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A few years back I decided I wanted to start gardening so I could control what goes into the herbs and vegetables I eat and cook with. To be honest, having to go buy fresh herbs every time I wanted to cook got a little tedious and time consuming. I first thought I would try an AeroGarden, it seemed really cool and could stay completely controlled inside. But at some point I realized that with all of the replacement parts and everything that it was going to be a bit expensive to maintain that, and the AeroGarden couldn’t fit a lot of herbs or grow much. So I decided on a raised planter bed because it was easy to keep upstairs at my apartment, and small enough to maintain. I did a LOT of research on different raised garden beds and decided on this one:
I also used some black mesh type material (pick up at any home depot) to line the inside of the bed to make sure i had less dirt fall out through the slats.
Working on my raised garden bed has been really fun, and I’ve learned a lot about plants and vegetables in the process. It’s definitely a learning curve though, i’m definitely guilty of murdering my little plant babies and I have done so on a semi-regular basis.
Filling your Raised Garden Bed:
To fill the bed I use a good quality raised garden bed soil like the Kellogg Organics Raised Bed and Potting Mix. I prefer this brand because I know the quality is better and I’m getting organic mix. This is the brand I used for most of my garden soil mixes, unless they don’t carry a particular type of product, along with Dr. Earth products which I use for fertilizers and ongoingplant care.
Planting your Herbs:
When planting the herbs, I lightly water the soil first and then get started on planting. You can also use a fertilizer of some sort in the holes you dig to plant your herbs, which I do use – I use the Dr. Earth Tomato and Herb fertilizer and it works wonders. Dig a hole a bit deeper than container the herbs come in so you can place the plant up above the soil level in their planter, by about a half inch. When taking your plants out of their containers, lightly squeeze and brush off the excess soil. You’re squeezing the plant to make sure the roots loosen a bit so they acclimate to the soil better.
Place the herbs or plants in and cover back up with more soil to make sure it is secure. I also use a vegetable scrap compost on top of the bed to maintain moisture levels in the soil and to continuously provide nutrients to my veggies and herbs.
Vegetables and Herbs to use:
- fresh herbs
- root vegetables (make sure the roots don’t need to dig too deep)
Watering and Care:
Make sure you plant like herbs and vegetables in your raised garden bed because you want to ensure that your plants aren’t getting too much to too little water. I have in my garden: Parsley, tomatoes, sage, dill, basil, and tarragon. These plants do not all require the exact same care but the care that they do require is similar so they are great to plant together. I water 2-3 times per week, depending on how hot it is outside and how my plants are looking. If I notice that one plant in particular is looking a bit drier I water that plant directly a little bit instead of the entire garden box. For the most part these are great if watered 2-3 times per week, and kept in the sun! Basil especially loves the sun.
When to plant your herbs and veggies:
Most plants will do best when planted at the end of spring on the cusp of summer. This doesn’t go for all plants, but it’s a good rule of thumb for a lot of the herbs and vegetables that you would use in your raised garden bed. If starting from seed, you will find that you want to start these seedlings indoors and move to your raised bed about 6 weeks after planting the original seedling.
Every plant will sprout and grow differently, but a lot of plants average 6 weeks to be ready for planting. Realistically, if starting from seed, you would plan on starting indoors around mid-April and moving to your garden bed at the end of May/Early June. This won’t go for all plants, a great place to check on general or individual plant care is the Farmer’s Almanac online. It’s a great resource and it’s been my go-to for years to research my plants and what to grow in my area.
Lastly, WHY should you start a raised bed garden:
I LOVE my garden and work on it all the time. Working on a garden is really therapeutic and you feel so amazing when your plant babies do well. It’s also a great way to get your children involved in getting to know real, healthy food. When you get children started young eating and learning about healthy food, it creates a real lifelong understanding of our relationship with food and why it’s important to put a focus on what we eat.
I’ve used plenty of my fresh herbs in cooking and I can tell the difference between my herbs and dried or store bought. Just last night I made shrimp scampi and topped it with the parsley from my garden. It was great because I had everything else, all I was missing was fresh parsley, which I snagged from my garden!
Start planting people!