I love fresh summer vegetables, don't you? Living in the suburbs makes gardening a bit challenging. But, I have some great tips for growing tomatoes and other vegetables in a small raised bed garden that will make it simple!
Bring on the fresh veggies!
I grew up in rural Missouri, surrounded by lots of land and space. Every summer, we would have a garden in our backyard and fresh tomatoes were my absolute favorite!
After being spoiled with that, it's really hard for me to enjoy tomatoes that aren't ripened on the vine. They taste completely different.
So for several years now, I've insisted on having a small raised bed garden to grow our own vegetables! As they say, you can take the girl out of the country but not the country out of the girl;-)
If you have been considering your own garden, but thought you didn't have the space, read on!
Tomato Fest is a great source to help you determine the best time of year to plant your vegetable garden based on your geographic location. Just a hint, in most areas in the midwest, that time is NOW, late April to mid May. You want to plant them as soon as the risk of frost has passed and nightly temperatures are mostly 55 degrees and above.
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SUPPLIES for Raised Bed Garden:
Steps for Small Raised bed garden:
1. Assemble the raised bed kit.
No tool was needed for my kit from Home Depot. Most of the raised bed kits are very similar. My advice would be to find an inexpensive option.
It is a fairly cheap structure, but the key is just having something that keeps your plants confined to one small space. Assembly of our kit took me less than 10 minutes.
2. Choose a location for your garden.
Select a location for your garden to allow for plenty of morning and mid-day sunlight. Your location should receive 6 - 8 hours of sunlight daily. I'll be honest, I like to place my raised bed in a place that gets a little bit of shade in the late afternoon. Those July and August days can be brutally hot.
3. Remove sod and apply weed mat:
Confession: even though I know the best practice is to remove the grass, I did not! I simply covered the ground with the weed mat and called it a day. Occasionally, I will put newspaper down under the mat, but that didn't even happen this year as I forgot!
4. Add garden soil to the raised bed:
Find a garden soil that's on sale and get it! Before adding my garden soil, I used some filler dirt I had in pots from last year. Then, added the garden soil on top of that. Soil can get a bit pricy.
5. Spread around the soil:
6. Plant your vegetables in the raised bed:
This year, I got 4 regular sized tomato plants, one grape tomato plant, cilantro, two cucumber plants, and sweet mint. This sounds like a lot for a small raised bed garden, but it works!
In case you're interested, my tomato plant varieties are Red Beefsteak, Big Boy, Celebrity, Beef Master, and the grape tomato Tami G.
Before putting the veggies in the garden, determine the best location for each of the plants. I got nine plants, so I visualized a 3 x 3 grid and planted one plant per square. See below for a visualization:
I love vegetables that come in peat pots! Just rip the bottom off of the pot and put the entire thing in the ground.
7. Keep the variety / vegetable name tag with each plant:
I love keeping track of which varieties work best for me. A simple way to do this is to just leave the original vegetable name flag stuck in the soil by the plant.
One of my dad's favorite hobbies is gardening. My mom tells me they planted over 40 tomato plants this year, not to mention all of their other vegetables! There is no way in this world they will eat all of those. So, I'm sure they will be sharing with family and friends.
Dad usually starts all of his plants by seed and has the process down to a science. I have done this in the past, but it's worth the few extra bucks for me to just buy some small plants.
As you might imagine, considering the love my dad has for gardening, he will quiz me on which of my plants are producing the best! With my plant tags in place, I am ready!
We love guacamole. My daughter makes the best guac ever! I'm looking forward to her making this with our own cilantro all summer long. I'll share her recipe soon.
Mint spreads, people! I keep it in a separate pot and just bury the majority of the pot in the garden. Otherwise, I find it takes over. BUT, it is definitely worth having!
Infused water is great with mint, cucumber and lime. It's a really fresh summer drink. Frankly, there are lots of great recipes using mint. Here are a few ideas you might like:
8. Put cages around tomatoes:
Ensure each cage is deep in the ground around the tomato plants. As the tomato plants grow, you'll need to be sure you pull drooping branches through the wires to keep the plant off of the ground.
I tend to not stake my plants. But should your plants become really heavy, this might be necessary to ensure your cages hold up the plants.
I will also be putting tomato cages around my cucumbers very soon. This will keep them off of the ground and out of the mud. As the plant grows, train the cucumber vine to grow up the cage for support. With guidance, the vine will wrap around the cage.
9. Use Miracle Grow for Tomatoes:
I love this stuff. I try to put it on my plants every 1 - 2 weeks all summer. It really seems to make a difference in the plant growth. Miracle Gro Tomato Plant Food can be used on all of the vegetables, not just the tomatoes.
10. Optional: Mulch your garden:
This is a step I skipped, but I may go back and do this. Mulch really helps to hold in the water to keep the plants from drying out. This becomes especially helpful in the heat of the summer.
11. Take care of your garden all summer and enjoy all of the fresh veggies!
This is the fun part, you guys. Water the plants as needed. A deep watering is necessary to help the roots grow deep for a healthier plant. Most plants need at least one inch of rain (or watering) weekly and more if it is really hot.
Just keep an eye on your garden, giving it a little TLC and you will enjoy fresh vegetables all summer. When my plants start to bear fruit, I will give you an update!
Do you enjoy summer gardening?
If you have any tips for a small raised bed garden, please share! I'm merely an amateur gardener who loves to learn more as I go.
For more outdoor ideas check out these posts:
Thanks for stopping by today.
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