How We Set Up Our First Raised Bed Fruit & Vegetable Garden

by Rachel on March 28, 2012

in Home Sweet Home Event, household, organic

Gardening - How to set up a raised garden bed for square foot gardening

Our supplies ready to go, plus one nosy dog

After choosing to eat more organic produce and experiencing sticker shock at the grocery store, I decided to take advantage of our acre lot and start living off the land in our own small way. Since I’m a beginner gardener and have had many failed attempts at even keeping houseplants alive, I didn’t want to mess around with traditional gardening where you till and aerate the existing soil. We live in Florida and have poor soil quality, so instead I chose to create raised garden beds.

This has numerous advantages including less weeds and totally customized soil mix. Depending on how high you build your beds, you may also avoid bending over all the time. I purchased several Greenland Gardener raised garden bed kits at Sam’s Club. Each 4′x8′ kit was only $40, and this seemed like the best price compared to other kits I saw at Lowe’s and the cost of buying your own durable wood such as cedar.

Not to mention, my husband wasn’t too keen on toiling away building frames all day. These frames are made of composite recycled wood so they will be durable, and they lock into place without any tools required. It probably took 2 minutes to assemble and I was able to do it myself.

Gardening - How to set up a raised garden bed for square foot gardening

Laying down the peat moss over the weed mat base

So first we layed down matting to suppress weeds – we purchased a 100′ roll at Sam’s Club for $25. You can also use recycled material such as newspaper, but it was quick and easy to just roll this out and cut around the frames.

Gardening - How to set up a raised garden bed for square foot gardening

Adding the soil mixture

Gardening - How to set up a raised garden bed for square foot gardening

Now our raised garden beds are ready!

Next we added our soil. I used a mix of peat moss, cow manure, and moisture control soil. Now that I’ve read the book All New Square Foot Gardening (after the fact of course, cause that’s how I roll), I will probably use the recommended “Mel’s Mix” of peat moss, vermiculite, and compost next time. I have a compost tumbler on the way so I can start creating my own organic compost, but if you buy commercial compost, Mel recommends buying several different varieties of compost.

Gardening - How to set up a raised garden bed for square foot gardening

I soon learned that gardening is hard work! Reese wisely opted to supervise from a shady area.

Gardening - How to set up a raised garden bed for square foot gardening

The dogs were eager to get in the garden, which has been a recurring theme

After laying out our soil and spraying it with water, it was time to place our transplants. In the first 4×4 area, I have chives, oregano, and basil, jalapeno peppers, red and yellow bell peppers, and cayenne. The second 4×4 area has white, red, and yellow onions and a few shallots planted from bulbs.

The rear garden bed has 2 strawberry plants, 2 raspberry plants, and several types of blueberry bushes that were specifically created by the University of Florida for our area.

Gardening - How to set up a raised garden bed for square foot gardening

This project took us several hours including shopping for supplies. Now that we have a better idea of what we’re doing, I could probably get a frame and soil set up and transplants put in by myself in about 30 minutes-1 hour depending on how many plants you’re transferring.

Puppies in the Garden

Kea was ever so helpful

Growing Tomatoes on the Patio

Our creatively named Patio Tomato plant

If you’re looking for a quick way to get started gardening, I highly recommend the Greenland Gardener kit (this is not a sponsored post, I’m just impressed so far with its ease, price, and sustainability).

You may want to check out this book which has been helpful (and probably would have helped more if I read it FIRST!):

Here are the kits on Amazon – significantly more expensive, so hurry and buy them from Sam’s Club if you’re interested. They flew off the shelves at our local store.

I will warn you that this hobby is kind of addictive! We’ve since added 2 citrus trees and a peach tree, more tomatoes, and I ordered another 4×8 raised bed kit. I think I might grow some more tomatoes so I can make a bunch of tomato sauce to freeze.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Danielle March 28, 2012 at 6:50 pm

We absolutely love our raised bed. I wish we had more land to grow more veggies but our 4×8 raised bed will have to do :) Just wait till you can get in and eat what you grow. It’s awesome.
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Rachel March 29, 2012 at 7:52 am

It’s pretty impressive how much you can grow even in a small space :)
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Gena March 28, 2012 at 10:34 pm

I’ve wanted a raised bed for a LONG time! Those are awesome and the prices aren’t bad either! Good for you! I hope that you’ll post about your produce again this season!
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Rachel March 29, 2012 at 7:39 am

I definitely plan to update. We planted everything about 3 weeks ago and it’s amazing how much everything has grown already!
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April H March 28, 2012 at 10:59 pm

Your garden looks great! Can you come share your veggies with me???
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Sara March 28, 2012 at 11:12 pm

My husband and I have been talking about trying a similar set up. Our dogs were not kind to our garden last year as they were in it every chance they got! Thanks for sharing, this is a really great post!
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Rachel March 29, 2012 at 7:41 am

Our dogs have been overly interested in our garden too. The older dog snatched the first 2 ripe tomatoes from our plant, and snapped one of the younger blueberry bushes in half when we first started. We’ve now fenced everything in…it seems the garden is a never-ending project! Now that it’s safe from the dogs, the birds are picking at the fruit.
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Nicole March 29, 2012 at 11:24 am

wow you got a great bed. you have a talent on that. keep it up.
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Rachel March 29, 2012 at 3:33 pm

I just have the ideas, my husband does most of the work actually so I have to give him credit for most of it :)
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ohkeeka [The Type A Housewife] March 29, 2012 at 12:41 pm

I love your raised beds. Mine are 4 x 4 and I kind of wish I had gotten bigger ones! I’ve been buying mushroom compost because my husband isn’t sold on the idea of a compost tumbler (he’s convinced it will smell & attract insects!), so you’ll have to let me know how yours works out!
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Rachel March 29, 2012 at 3:36 pm

The one we bought seems pretty sturdy and we’ll probably put it in a back corner of the yard. I will definitely do some type of review – who knows, maybe I can convince the company to let me do a giveaway if I like it enough :)

Also, I don’t know if all your sweet potato posts are trickling into my subconscious, but I found myself buying sweet potatoes this week!
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Traxis March 29, 2012 at 12:52 pm

You have a nice and very adorable helper there.. Can I invite your dog too to help me.. :) Thanks for this great tip..You gave me idea on what to do this weekend..
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Rachel March 29, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Some days I am ready to give the puppy away permanently, haha! She has been on a destruction rampage this past week, maybe she’s teething.
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Amy March 30, 2012 at 11:14 am

Wow, you have a huge backyard! I love the idea of raised beds. Hopefully I’ll be able to do some the next place we move this summer. Yours turned out great!
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Rachel March 30, 2012 at 12:31 pm

The large fenced in yard was one of the main reasons we picked this house. We are loving it so far (except for the upkeep!).
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Kathy April 22, 2012 at 12:07 am

Kea looked like a great help!! How nice it is to have such a big lot. I keep saying with our next house we want to buy a house with land or maybe even build. I just want a larger place to garden and to allow the kids to play. I am sure you will enjoy all of these this summer

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rebeccabasset July 4, 2013 at 5:28 am

I can’t keep the Birds away from my Peach Tree’s, but you have given me a new look on things, so thank you!

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Rachel July 5, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Our peach tree hasn’t started bearing fruit yet, but we’ve also had a problem with birds getting our fruit. We ended up putting netting over our raised bed garden as well as a motion activated sprinkler system to scare them away.

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maureen July 6, 2013 at 3:05 pm

I printed out the info for my sister. She wanted information because she has a patch of land where she can grow things (I live in a condo and can not). But she wants fresh fruit and veggies for her children.

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courtney b July 19, 2013 at 1:10 pm

this really helps especially when my last garden died :(

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