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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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