Two winters ago, I decided to take my first baby step into vegetable gardening. And I do mean BABY step: I had exactly 2 romaine lettuce plants in two small pots on my patio. To my surprise, they grew wonderfully and we had some yummy salads all winter (I had no idea many types of lettuce grow well through the winter months!) By the time spring came, I was ready to take the next step and add a few more vegetables to my gardening repertoire. My cousin and I signed up for a series of gardening classes at the Jones Creek Library. The series consisted of 3 separate gardening classes on various topics given by the LSU Master Gardeners. The first class was on “Container Gardening,” and that’s when I realized there was a name for what I had done the previous winter! Container gardening is when you grow your flowers or veggies in a container – ceramic pots, plastic buckets, raised bed gardens, and even old bathtubs or wheelbarrows!
My first two little lettuce plants.
It turns out that there are many, many types of fruits and veggies that thrive well in containers, including tomatoes, peppers, beans, cucumbers, even blueberries! There are (long) lists of good container plants, as well as how much space they need and what season to grow them, online or in container gardening book at the library. Container gardening supposedly has many advantages, such as better drainage, and it is easier to manage pests, disease, and soil quality. As a beginner, I don’t know much about drainage or pests, but for me, I like container gardening because:
1) It’s pretty to look at! Decorative pots and brightly painted garden beds add some fun to our backyard.
2) It’s stress free! Just add soil and assign a plant to a pot! If the soil is all wrong and the plant dies, no worries, just dump the pot and try again.
3) I don’t have to dig up our backyard! I really wouldn’t know the first thing about shoveling large sections of packed dirt in our yard and tilling and preparing that area for veggie plants. I was more than happy to pick up some bags of soil at Home Depot that are veggie garden-ready, dump it in a container, and plant away!
So, container gardening was a no brainer for me, but when I decided to expand our garden last spring, I started to realize that buying a dozen new pots might not be the best choice. It was time for a dedicated vegetable bed garden! But to keep everything I liked about container gardening intact, we opted for a raised garden bed.
You can do a lot with raised gardens, such as create sprinkler and drainage systems for them and line the bottoms so it is completely separate from the soil underneath. But for our purposes, I just wanted something I could dump bags of dirt into it and paint it a pretty color in the end! So without further ado, here is our very beginner, basic, easy, and cheap way to make your own raised garden bed!
Materials needed are:
-two 8” x 10’ boards, each cut into 6’ and 4’ pieces (Home Depot will do this for free when you buy the boards). You can also choose the cut the boards into 8’ x 2’ pieces for a longer, thinner garden.
-hammer and long nails
-pretty paint (optional for some, but not for me!)
-dirt (we chose the cheap “topsoil” and added in some fertilizer)
-something to plant
With someone to help you hold the boards straight and square against each other, nail the boards together into a 6’ x 4’ rectangle. Then choose where you want it in your yard and place it there, fill with dirt, water it well, and plant your veggies! Super easy right?! Keep up the watering and occasional fertilizing, and in a few months you’ll be enjoying homegrown summer vegetables!
If you’ve read this whole article wondering what gardening has to do with being a mom, check out my post on Gardening with Kids here! It’ll give you 5 good reasons to build your own and plant some veggies this weekend!