Category Archives: Raised Bed Gardening

Florida Raised Bed Gardening- Spring Planting!

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Sometimes it’s fun to try something new.
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This year, in addition to having two raised beds, this gardener is growing tomatoes in a circle.
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In the center is a partially buried five gallon bucket with compost in it and holes drilled in the bottom. As water is added to the top, it filters down though the compost, watering and feeding simultaneously. Compost is so good for the plants and is so easy to make!
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The beds are getting fresh soil, and one if them is gridded in classic square foot gardening style.

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The grid is new this spring, and it really looks organized and neat.

The pepper plants you see in two of the squares were overwintered and are already producing peppers! It really is worthwhile to try to keep pepper plants alive over our mild North Florida winters, as they will produce in early spring that way.

Pepper plants started from seed in the spring typically struggle along through the summer, then produce lots of peppers in the fall. I picked bagfuls last year and froze peppers for later.

Raised beds produce quite well and require little space. If you’re interested in gardening in Florida, you can start anytime!

Summer is coming and it is a good time to plant some of the heat lovers like basil, okra, eggplant, sweet potatoes, and black-eyed peas.

If you’re interested in starting your own sweet potato slips for growing, I have a tutorial here.

Also, did you know that sweet potato leaves are edible? More on that in this post.

I’ll post more on what you can be doing now in the North Florida garden in my upcoming June To-Do List. Enjoy those fresh veggies! Hopefully it will be BLT season soon for you!

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How to Cover a Raised Bed Garden from Winter’s Frost

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BRRR! The weather in North Florida has been hormonal!!!

Looks like we have a few more chilly nights left before spring comes to North Florida. If you have young or tender plants that you want to protect from the light frosts predicted for this area, check out this nifty idea.

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All you need is an old fitted sheet and a few sticks taller than your plants. Poke the sticks into the ground at a level higher than your tallest plants and stretch the sheet over the bed.

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The sticks keep the sheet off your plants, and the fitted sheet helps to hold the edges down. This is great idea from the owners of the Florida raised beds seen on this site.

Easy to install, easy to remove.

If you can place the sheets in the afternoon, it will give the sun a chance to warm the trapped air, giving the plants a bit more frost protection.

Who’s ready for spring?

Florida Raised Bed Gardening Update

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Florida Raised Bed Gardening Update

Gardening is addictive. Last spring, this retired couple started out with a single raised bed. They harvested squash, tomatoes, peppers, and green beans.

The bed was planted for the fall with collards, kale, carrots, turnips, and radishes.

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The North Florida raised bed now has a neighbor.

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See? Once you get started gardening, it’s hard to stop with just one bed.

The gardener used my cheap DIY plant label idea, and planted another garden.

The raised bed idea is great for planting carrots, who need soft soil in order to grow straight roots.

We have gotten some frosts recently here in North Florida, but they have a neat way to cover their beds for the night. I’ll have to show you some pictures of that soon.

I hope your gardens are growing well. You can start planning for the spring and getting your seeds together. I have a post on how to get free seeds and  how to make your own compost. Gardening can be as expensive or as inexpensive as you want.

Winter is a time for yummy greens (especially in my favorite kale recipe!) and fresh hot biscuits. I have a super easy way to make biscuits that I will share with you later this week.

Fresh, hot, homemade biscuits with some easy peach jam? Yes, please!!!

 

Florida Raised Bed Garden and the Deadly Accessories

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Remember the monster tomato plant? Well, it’s still growing.

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This ‘Mortgage Lifter’ is super tall. Production is low, but there is at least one tomato on it.

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That’s not all I found on it.

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That is a tobacco hornworm. It can absolutely decimate a tomato plant. At first I thought it was a tomato hornworm, but my research assistant, Mr. Wikipedia, informed me that the tobacco hornworm has 7 stripes, whereas the tomato hornworm has 8 stripes.

Go ahead, count the stripes. 🙂

Those white pearly studs are its deadly accessories, the pupae of a parasitic wasp that will kill the caterpillar. Mr. Wikipedia went on to tell me some pretty gruesome facts about the wasp’s life cycle in the caterpillar. Apparently a virus is injected with the wasp eggs and 2 molts actually occur inside of the caterpillar before the wasp larvae spin the cocoons on the outside…it actually makes you feel a little sorry for the destructive garden pest.

So if you see a tobacco hornworm flaunting some bling, let it be- Nature’s Pest Control is on the job.

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Let’s end on a happy note, shall we?

Many cherry tomatoes are being harvested and enjoyed. The green bean plants have produced much for them but are ready to be converted into wonderful homemade compost!

It’s almost time to start the fall garden!

Here in North Florida, we can plant many spring crops again, as well as start many of our fall crops. If you are in Florida, be sure to consult the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide provided by the University of Florida.

Have you been thinking about what you want to plant in August and September?

 

Florida Raised Bed Gardening-Monster Tomato Plant!

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very tall tomato plant

Have you ever seen a tomato plant this tall?

That tomato plant is on its way to towering over NBA players.

Temperatures here in North Florida have been mostly over 85 degrees, and tomatoes have trouble setting fruit at higher temperatures, especially the larger tomatoes. They do get a bit of shade, and we are hoping that the plants can hold on through the hot months to come. If they can survive until it starts cooling down a bit, they may get a bumper crop of tomatoes.

What do you think about the height? Should they prune it to keep it under control or should they just let it go and see how tall it can get?

Florida Raised Bed Gardening: Harvest!

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If you have followed the progress of this raised bed, you may have been wondering about the growth.

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The above pictures were taken 2 weeks ago.

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Look at it now! The first green beans were harvested this last week and the gardeners were so excited!

 

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They planted ‘Kentucky Wonder’ bush beans and some yellow wax beans. They were able to eat green beans for lunch that they grew in their backyard.

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yellow squash plant

They have signs of little yellow squash growing too. They should be able to harvest squash in just a few days.

If you have been thinking about gardening, you can start small with a raised bed. The husband in this gardening duo had never planted a seed before, but he is now able to harvest vegetables from his backyard.

Please don’t think of gardening as expensive, complicated, or difficult. Start small, and enjoy the process. Gardeners are always learning, so don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know.

You can read about how they started their garden in this post, and follow their progress.

Florida Raised Bed Gardening Update

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If you have been following the raised bed gardening saga, you know that the garden has been built, filled and planted with transplants and seeds.

Thanks to God’s warm weather and gentle showers, the bush green beans are up!
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It’s so exciting to hide a small, hard seed in the ground and see a lively green plant emerge.
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I spotted this amazing display of color the same day. I love the color combination. I love the pink snapdragons with the yellow and purple pansies. I must plant some snapdragons next year-those are so beautiful!

Gardening is so exciting-and you get to eat the results too! Speaking of eating, have you tried my favorite kale recipe yet? It’s so delicious and good for you!

Florida Raised Bed Gardening (Part 2)

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If you are going to plant spring vegetables in Florida, the time to do so is now. Did you read about starting a raised bed in my earlier post? If not, go ahead and read Part 1 and then come back. 🙂

Look at this beautiful compost that they had for their raised bed! They employed the easy method of making compost. Over about 10 years, they kept adding kitchen scraps and yard waste to a pile and let the worms do the work. 🙂

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After the raised bed is assembled and filled with compost, it is time to plan and plant.

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I just took a trowel and sketched out the spacing before we planted to be sure that everything would fit and that the spacing would work.

This couple wanted vegetables, herbs, and flowers. We planned out the placement of the vegetables, putting the tall tomatoes in the back (north) of the bed. Peppers and basil went in front of the tomatoes. Yellow squash and bush beans were in front.

Some take string and carefully measure out their square feet and plant according to this guide, but we treated the square as a whole unit, not as individual squares.

 

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In the picture above, the couple is planting their bush bean seeds in rows. They have such great compost to plant in and I am sure their plants will just love their home.

Cilantro, basil, and yellow squash were also planted from seeds. They planted tomatoes and pepper plants as young transplants rather than seeds.

With all the warm weather and spring showers that we have been getting, the seeds should be coming up soon.

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A few marigold plants were placed in the raised bed. These will attract pollinators and look pretty.

It is really amazing how much can be crammed into a small but carefully maintained space. In a month, this Florida raised bed will be full of young plants. Little fertilizer will be needed because of the great compost. What a great use of space!

If you want to learn more about making your own compost, you should read my post about how to make compost.

Hopefully soon I will posting about little sproutlings in this garden!

How is your garden doing? Have you planted yet or are you expecting snow in your area?

Florida Raised Bed Gardening (Part 1)

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Florida Raised Bed Garden

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.