I get asked a lot, “How do I get started with a garden?” Well you are in luck because I am starting 2 raised beds and would love to have you follow right along. So get ready, get set, let’s garden! Fall is my favorite time of year to plant because Spring in Dallas, Texas goes from cool to hot so quickly. Fall is a little slower fading into cool weather.
I am a huge fan of raised beds. I can’t express to you properly how much better your plants will grow, how much easier controlling weeds will be and over all how much more you will enjoy your garden if you will construct some raised beds. The down side is they can be pricey to build and fill. Don’t let this stop you! I am in the same boat as you are. I thought outside the box and I asked a few friends if they would be willing to sponsor me. This means that they will shell out the cash in exchange for fall and possibly winter veggies for a season. Pretty sweet deal for all involved. I always put in the disclaimer that ,in gardening things can happen, from pests to early freezes, but they were willing to take that risk. Another up side for me is that it is very motivating growing veggies to share with someone else. Things that you might let slip by for yourself you make time for when someone else is involved. Am I right?
Step 1: Find the perfect place. Vegetables need at least 6 to 8 hours of sun. It would be best if you find a place you can see from your house or pass by everyday. Out of sight is out of mind so to speak. You will be much more likely to water veggies you see wilting. Why not try your front yard like I did? I started with two raised beds in my front yard. Since I did not want to commit to a fence right away I covered my beds with chicken wire. Once the plants are established the rabbits don’t bother them so much but they love new tender shoots of just about anything.
Step 2: Go to your neighborhood lumber store and buy 3 16 ft 2 x 12 boards. I bought pine as cedar is just too pricey. Get the nice man to use his very cool lazer guided saw to cut 2 boards in half or two 8 ft sections and the other board into 4 equal pieces. Pick up at least 24- 3 inch deck screws. Haul it all home, borrow someone’s drill if you have to and put together your 8′ x 4′ beds. It will cost you somewhere around $65.00.
Step 3: Now to fill your new beds. If you are placing them on grass it is a good idea to lay some cardboard boxes down first so you don’t have a problem with grass growing up. You have several options for filling your beds. You can get soil from some where on your property like I do. I dig dirt out of my chicken yard. You can buy soil in bags from your local nursery or my favorite option; visit Living Earth Technologies. See locations here. They sell soil mixes and will even deliver if you don’t have a truck you can borrow. My favorite is the vegetable mix which will run you about $45.00 per cubic yard or a slightly less expensive mix is the planting mix at about $35.00. You will need 1 cubic yard to fill both 4 x 8 beds half full. What do you fill them the rest of the way with? Well that’s where you get creative. If you have made your own compost, use that. However if you don’t have any compost of your own go on Craigslist and see if someone has horse manure free for the taking. I met a super nice lady that has a big pile of aged horse manure on her property. A few shovels and individual half-pints of ice cream for my strong boys gets my truck filled with great compost.(We have been blessed with a truck recently but for a long time I had to borrow one. Don’t let this stop you either. These same boys can be paid for hosing out a truck bed.) If you don’t have the advantage of available muscle then maybe a family in your neighborhood does, for a small price. If all else fails contact your local scout troop and hire some of them. We are not quite done yet. After you get the compost in put in 2 or 3 bags of shredded bark mulch per bed. Split a big square bag of peat moss between the beds and do the same with a big bad of perlite. Fork all this together and you are done. This might seem like a lot of work and a big expense but if you build this good foundation you will have a beautiful garden and yummy healthy veggies for years to come. Total cost around $150.00.
Congratulations! You did it! You are ready to plant. After you have rested, check back to see what to plant in your new raised beds.