This is a journal of my vegetable gardens. Skippy was my first dog and he thought the garden was his, even though I did all the work. Now Suzie and Charley follow in his footsteps. We're located near Boston (USDA zone 6A). I have a community plot, a backyard vegetable garden, fruit trees, berry bushes, chickens, and bees. I use sustainable organic methods and do my best to grow all of my family's vegetables myself.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

late fall is a perfect time for new raised beds

I was walking my dogs this afternoon and noticed my neighbor has built a couple new raised garden beds. And she has a nice big delivery of dirt waiting to fill them. This made me think - why I am waiting 'til spring to build my new garden beds? This is a perfect time of year to start a new garden! Any fresh soil, manure or compost added now above tired or compact soil will help to refresh it over the winter. (Judy noted this in a recent comment.) The freshly added nutrients will work their way down over the winter while existing worms and soil microbes do their job aerating and mixing soil layers.

I have been thinking that I need to get a plan for my whole garden before I start. But an alternative is to start small with just a couple beds for now. Hmm.... A new thought.... Especially if the snow holds off for a bit longer.



Anonymous Kate said...

I will be waiting for you to post a couple of pictures for your new garden beds. Good luck!

December 04, 2013 9:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is your recommendation for affordable buying of large amounts of soil for raised beds? Thanks, MV

December 06, 2013 1:06 PM

Blogger Thomas Generazio said...

I have to agree with you! I've taken the start small approach and installed the first two of many beds. The rest will go in sometime during the spring. Planning a new garden is hard work!

December 09, 2013 10:41 PM

Blogger Pam said...

Hi Kathy:

I'm late to this party but will add my two cents. You will probably find that you make new raised beds whenever you can find time. I'd like to make new beds in late fall so I can add old horse manure and it will have time to settle - but life does not always cooperate. So I make new raised beds in fall, winter, and spring. We don't get much snow but we do get lots of rain so the gardens are muddy in winter. If the day is mild, I'm out digging and cleaning up.

With your new BIG garden, you are biting off a lot at once. Be sure to do lots of strength training and weight lifting this winter - ;-).

A couple of years ago, Hurricane Sandy was coming so I had to harvest sweet potatoes earlier than expected. My husband was away so I spent two very long days on my knees pulling up sweets and hauling them to the house. Our house is on pilings - 15 stairs from yard to house. I counted those stairs so many times during those two days. Sweet potato harvest:: 182 lbs.

I cured them for two weeks in the guest bathroom with a heater and a humidifier. Temp: 85 degrees. Humidity similar. Fabulous sweets!

You're going to have lots of great memories but the first couple of years with a big garden are a lot more work than you (or I) expected when we began.

Take care,
Pam from Chesapeake Bay, VA

February 08, 2014 8:45 PM

Blogger Pam said...

Thomas, you are right. But planning is the easy part. Making new garden beds is a lot of hard work!

February 08, 2014 8:46 PM

Blogger kathy said...


That's A LOT of sweet potatoes. I bet you've been enjoying them this winter.

I am sore right now and heading to bed early because of my strength training, i.e. snow shoeing with my dogs.

I am getting nervous about being able to actually get my new garden beds in. Nevertheless, I am planting seeds. We'll see what happens....

February 08, 2014 9:04 PM

Blogger Pam said...

Hi Kathy: My two cents again. I've been in a similar position (move to a new place with lots of land). Your new garden is 20' x 60' - 1,200 sq ft. That's a big garden by any standard, especially when you plan to keep your community garden plot (600+ sq ft) this year. The plot will keep you busy and you can't ignore it because you are a leader (and role model) at the community garden.

When we bought this land (5.5 acres) I was in heaven! I could have a huge garden, no limitations! We fenced in a 60' x 60' area. (I never used all of it.) The "big garden was about 450' from the house. It was a pain to go up there dozens of times a day, especially in summer when I needed to switch soaker hoses around. We had lots of rain - weeds were unbelievable. Could never get them under control.

Two years ago, I downsized. I made four 4' x 16' raised beds nearer to the house. Last year, I added four more so I have 8 raised beds (4' x 16') near the house. I'll probably make at least two more raised beds this this year - I want a flower /cutting garden and a plant propagation bed. Maybe another bed for tomatoes.

This year, I will "retire" most of the big garden, except for the fruit section - 14 blueberry bushes, 2 fig trees, 2 peach trees. I'd like to grow more fruit.

Here are my thoughts about your new garden. This spring, for your new garden, consider making beds that are roughly same size / square footage as the garden at your old house. The new beds will supplement your community garden plot. Making those beds and preparing the soil will be a lot more work than you expect. After this season ends, take stock. You will probably give up the community plot. In the fall, you may decide to make more raised beds. You may want to make another growing area that is roughly equivalent to your community plot. Go through another growing season, then take stock again.

When I think of you making raised beds on 1,200 sq feet of land in one season, I shudder. I also feel tired and sore. Been there, done that.

Sorry this is so long!

Pam from the Chesapeake Bay in VA

February 09, 2014 3:54 PM


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