2018 Learnings from my First Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

2018 Learnings from my First Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

2018 Learnings from my First Raised Bed Vegetable Garden 974 729 Eco Garden Systems

What I learned from my first year with a raised bed vegetable garden

In the Garden with Jessica

I had a dream about my garden last night. In the dream I was planting seeds in my Eco Garden, a raised bed garden. The seeds immediately grew into luscious, purple-hued tomatoes as large as the human head. The bright green stalks twisted and turned all over the raised garden bed as if searching for the best spot to deposit their harvest. I kept picking the tomatoes in amazement, saying “These aren’t ready yet!” over and over. I couldn’t keep up! When I woke from my dream, I thought. “Wow, I need to start planning my garden.” And definitely make tomatoes part of the plan for my raised bed vegetable garden.

I got out of bed and grabbed my garden notebook from last year. While I didn’t take notes daily, I tried to keep track of what was going on each week, or at least when there were major changes to record. 2018 was my very first year vegetable gardening, and I definitely had lessons dealt. Here are 3 things I learned that will (hopefully) help me this year—and you, too.

grape tomato from raised bed vegetable garden

1. Soil health is everything for a raised bed vegetable garden

My soil was a major problem last year. It pretty much ruined my chances of a prosperous vegetable garden. I chose a well-known organic garden soil and learned this: sometimes you get a bad batch. Being clueless, I had no idea that woody soil is not a great thing, and mine broke down quickly. It caused the soil to sink down in the middle of the raised garden bed, and drowned some of my root crops and lettuce.

The lovely folks at Eco Garden Systems evaluated my garden and determined I needed more soil and some fertilizer. They also tested my soil later in the season, and things were pretty spot on. As soon as I did that, the garden came back to life. It was getting late for some things to grow, but I did get to harvest some of my crops, like tomatoes, beans, kale, and peppers.

This year I will add compost and make sure to fertilize mid-season. Try these tips for perfect soil.

2. A raised bed vegetable garden needs less water than you think

Watering a vegetable garden can be a challenge to get right. With an Eco Garden, you don’t have to water often. The garden has a built-in water reservoir below a platform with an Air Gap to encourage healthy root growth. The Original Garden also comes with sprinklers to water the top. I even added a timer to the hose so that I could automate watering—check out this video to learn how. Except that I watered it too often.

Too much water, coupled with the bad soil, really caused some veggies to drown. Once I fixed my soil, I cut back to watering only when needed. I learned I should have trusted the garden – that reservoir lasted all growing season!

green pepper in raised bed vegetable garden
dragon fly in raised bed vegetable garden

3. Grow more of the vegetables you like

I’m an experimenter. I grow flowers in containers in the summer and fall, and my only plan has always been to hit the garden centers and pick what catches my eye. It usually works out just fine. But a raised bed vegetable garden seemed to need more of a plan. I created a grid to decide where to plant, but I still ended up with more plants that I needed. This was not a problem, though—you can overplant in an Eco Garden. So, I stuffed it full of goodies; the garden center had so many seeds and plants to choose from that I couldn’t help myself.

I liked having a big variety for my first year of vegetable gardening because I wanted to see what grew best, and what grew best together. While I haven’t yet finished my plans for this year, I think I will choose the vegetables that I like to eat, and grow more of each so I can get a plentiful harvest. Here’s a list of easy vegetables to grow in a raised bed garden; I will definitely be growing all of these. I also want to stick with peppers and tomatoes because they have been proven to grow really well in an Eco Garden. Check out the research. When my garden took off after the soil fix, both went crazy.

My daily life is full of cooking, and my family eats a wide variety of vegetables and herbs. The herbs did really well for me, so I will also be planting them again. My experimenting will stay in the kitchen this year, and I may even start some seeds indoors. It would be fun to try some unique varieties of tomatoes and beets—and grow some heirloom varieties.

The main thing I learned? It’s ok to experiment and make mistakes in the garden; that’s how you get better. The second season of vegetable gardening should be more successful for me. I think that dream was a sign. Fingers crossed that the tomatoes are exactly like I envisioned.

Tell us: What are your garden learnings from 2018?

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