Thinking about starting a garden this year? Gardening in Florida is such a worthwhile endeavor. You can get fresh air, gentle exercise, and fresh vegetables!
I have been helping a retired couple set up a raised bed in their backyard. A raised bed is a great way to start gardening.
Many like the raised bed system of gardening because they have more control over the soil. In Florida, that is important because our natural ground is so sandy.
Also, many who have raised beds use the square foot method of gardening, as developed by Mel Bartholomew (see his blog here).
The first step is to select a site. You need between 4-6 hours of sun, really 6 hours or more is best. If some afternoon shade is available, your plants will appreciate the break from our blistering Florida sun.
They selected a site in their backyard that seemed to get the most sun.
The next step is to assemble the raised bed. Be sure to use quality wood, but be careful of using wood that has been treated with chemicals-remember, your food will be growing in this box!
This one was made by cutting a 4×4 into 4 equal lengths for the corners, then screwing 4x1x6 boards to the corner posts.
This raised bed framework was built years ago and was used as a compost bin until they decided to use it for a garden.
Next, lay a layer of cardboard or thick newspaper to smother the grass. Poke a few holes for drainage, then add a thick layer of leaves. The leaves will also help to smother weeds and will provide more organic material as they decompose.
Finally, add a thick layer of compost, at least 6 inches. This couple had been making compost using kitchen and yard scraps and had plenty of this rich material to use. For my tutorial on how to make compost, read this post.
Water the garden thoroughly to settle the soil and to be sure that it is level. Water will settle in any low spots.
The next post about raised bed gardening will cover how to plan and plant your Florida raised bed garden. This couple really wants tomatoes and herbs; see what they plant in Florida Raised Bed Gardening Part 2.