The Evolution of our Raised Bed Garden

The Bucket Garden of 2013... oh how far we've come.

Until I became a homeowner, I had never grown a vegetable in my life. But when I purchased my first house and actually had space for a garden, I wanted to give it a try. I didn't want to create something permanent because we just didn't have the time and I really wanted time to research and plan. This was our solution - the bucket garden!

The bucket garden was created completely with what we had available at the time. The buckets were leftover from interior renovations so we cleaned them really well and spray painted them to add some color to the back yard. They're sitting on carpet we pulled out of the house because we didn't want to mow between them. And the cement pavers were recycled from another part of the yard to create a little walkway (and cover that ugly carpet). 

So aside from the paint and plants, everything else was free! That first year we bought tomatoes, cabbage, herbs and pepper plants from our local nursery. We watered them once a day and for the most part, everything grew really well. We didn't know anything about soil content or fertilizer or pruning, but overall, everything grew and we harvested more vegetables than I though possible...

...that is, until I read a book called Edible Estates - Attack on the Front Lawn by Fritz Haeg. 

This book is THE reason we decided to rip out our entire front yard and turn it into a vegetable garden. What Haeg was saying was that instead of mowing your lawn, you should eat it, which makes all the sense in the world to me. Why did I want to water a yard when I could be watering vegetables that would feed my family? 

While this book wasn't really a "how-to," it did present real stores of families all across the United States that were growing food where they lived and it inspired me to build raised beds similar to what I had seen in the community gardens at Franklin Park Conservatory. And if you don't already know, the community gardens at Franklin Park Conservatory are one of the best kept secrets in Columbus.

So here it is! The great raised bed project of 2014: . 

Dave built the raised beds with 2 x 4s and corrugated tin, we had to have the soil and gravel trucked in from a topsoil company, and I started nearly all the plants from seeds under a grow light in our basement. But as author Bill McKibben wrote on the back of Edible Estates, "there are things better than lawns - more beautiful, more helpful, more fun!"

I hope this inspires you to throw some seeds in the dirt this spring and see what happens!