Traditional versus raised garden bed

Traditional gardening is a plot of land where you

The biggest problem we had with traditional gardening (especially in Kansas where the wind blows) is that every weed seed made it to our garden, creating a lot of extra work to keep the weeds from taking over the entire garden.  However, if we were 35-years-old instead of 75, we would probably still enjoy the traditional garden, because the advantage is the open space that allows plants to flourish, trailing across the straw mulch. It’s a beautiful sight.

Since 2008, we have been gardening in raised beds.  Our first experience was with a simple 6’ x 6’ bed and we only had cucumbers and peppers in it. We were living in the Kansas City area at the time and didn’t have a lot of space for a garden. This worked well through several growing seasons.

The next venture was at a daughter’s home; she wanted to give gardening a try with a bed that was 12’ x 4’ treated lumber.  It was a huge success. (See images below.) Our first raised-bed gardens showed us we needed to figure out how to get the garden to grow up instead of out, so we could raise more of everything. (We had a frame for the cucumbers to grow on, but we found it was definitely too short.)

First 12’ x 4’ garden
(May 2013)
June 4, 2013
June 27, 2013 
(Look how short that cucumber wire is in the back!)

One of the most difficult parts of a raised-bed garden is deciding much you can fit into a 12’ x 4’ bed.  If you love all the veggies, how do you pick and choose what to grow and what to buy at the market?

Tip: When it comes to raised-bed gardening, we found that watermelons are best left to the growers with big fields in this area and we buy them at our local Farmer’s Market.

Because everything is in close proximity in a raised bed, having a companion planting guide when planning out your garden is a must.  Some plants do not like being next to each other.  For example, carrots do NOT want to be planted next to onions.  And onions do not like to be near peas or beans. Go figure.

Even more importantly, you want to know what plants benefit from being planted by each other.  By planning out your garden strategy, you can produce an abundance for you and your family all summer long.

Tip: If you are going to have a raised-bed garden, buy yourself a scooter that will hold some tools, and whatever you might need for the day so you can save your knees and hips. (This is a good tip for anyone of any age.)

You will be the perfect height to pull weeds, and if you can scoot all the way around the bed, you can reach every weed without any trouble.  From the scooter, you can also do the harvesting of things like lettuce, spinach, beets and whatever you can easily reach… I’ve even picked bush green beans from my scooter.

Another consideration for a raised-garden bed is to start investing in tomato cages, bean towers, and anything that will allow your garden plants to grow up and not over each other.

As this season starts and progresses, we will be posting pics to this blog to give you a visual and understanding of what can be accomplished with a raised-bed garden.

If you’re new to raised-bed gardening, our recommendation is that you start with either 1 or 2 beds and then add an additional bed each year until you have your garden the perfect size for your family.

“The best fertilizer is a gardener’s shadow.” — Unknown


Do you have gardening questions? Ask our experts in the comments section below. They’d love to share their knowledge with you!


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