03/20/2020 by "George the Garden Guy"
There are many reasons why a raised garden is a viable alternative rather than a traditional garden. In order to have a successful raised garden, there's a few things you need to know to get started.
1. Probably the most important thing when planning a raised garden is placement of the garden itself. I've seen many people get energetic about putting in a raised garden with visions of fresh veggies and flowers while placing their raised gardens in an area where it was destined to fail. A raised garden must be placed where it will get either full sun or at least 8 hours of sun per day. Nothing halts the production and dreams of a flourishing raised garden than to put it in primarily shade.
2. Just as important as the placement is the soil medium you're going to use. If you fill your garden with any old dirt you can expect similar results in the produce. Your garden needs to have a mixture of mediums to get you to where you need to be. Remember the soil needs to breath so the roots can as well. So don't make the soil so heavy it doesn't drain well or enable air to get in. Use a mixture of peat moss, Canadian Peat if you can get it, also something organic would be a must. If you don't have a means to do any composting than Composted Cow will suffice in a bag. If you really want to get fancy you can add a little vermiculite. Lastly, you need something to keep the soil from packing down too much and allowing drainage. Either perlite or mulch fines work well. Of the above three main components of the soil, do a 1/3 amount of each. If using vermiculite just add about 10% of the overall soil volume. One last thing, this combination of soil must be mixed thoroughly!
3. Another thing you need to make sure of is that the bottom of your raised garden can drain through holes in the bottom. Don't be stingy with the amount of holes you put in.
4. If you're the typical homeowner watering your garden can be very sporadic with the busy schedules we all keep. Therefore I highly recommend putting in an irrigation system so that the garden gets watered on time every time. It can be very simple. You can just use a hose timer to be set on the times you want irrigation to happen. You can use either drip lines or small spray heads. Don't compromise on this unless you're retired and this is a real hobby you don't mind tending to every day. But watch when you have to go out of town! Many a garden has met its demise from gong on vacation.
5. Fertilize your plants. I always recommend Osmocote time released fertilizer. Get a product specifically for veggie gardens and follow the direction on the table.
6. When your veggie plants have finished yielding remove them from the garden and loosen up the soil again. You can chop them up and add them to your compost pile if you have one. This would be a good time to add a little organic matter you've been storing up for your garden. Don't think you can continue to use the same soil without conditioning it before every planting. Soil looses its nutrients.
7. Another thing to keep in mind is how to get the best yield out of your garden. In some areas you can have three different crops every year and turn your garden over multiple times! Here in Jacksonville we can do this. In the early spring, say around March 1 we can plant tomatoes, squash, beans, egg plant, herbs, and the list goes on. These plants should be done yielding around June. Then replant the same types of hot tolerant veggies which will end around the end of October. And guess what? Then its time to plant cool weather crops like all kinds of lettuce, cabbage, kale, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. This should come off around the end of Feb. and you start your cycle all over again. Gardening this way keeps you in fresh veggies all year!
For ideas on how to lay out your raised garden as far as where to put the plants, google for some ideas. Nothing beats a raised garden for fun, fresh food, a sense of accomplishment, and a stress reliever.
For more information on Holiday's Nursery & Landscaping, or if you want us to come and help you install your raised garden just give us a call at 904-613-9918.