Easy Raised Garden Beds

One of my gardening goals for this year is to get my oldest three children more involved.  I want them to learn how to grow their own food, and not just eat what dad grows.  I think it would be sad for them to grow up without any ideas how to grow plants, and think that it is a hard thing that only a select few with “green thumbs” can do.

Since I needed to build three garden beds, I wanted to make beds that were quick and easy to put together.  Fortunately, I saw a product at Home Depot that happened to do exactly what I wanted. It is an 8in x 8in x 6in block with slots that a 2×6 board can slide into.  There is a small hole in the middle of the bricks that a piece of rebar can go into to help hold the bricks together or stack them to the ground.  Each brick costs $2.97 at my local store.

PlanterWallBlockI also bought my redwood for the sides of the bed at Home Depots.  I wanted each bed to be 4ft by 3ft.  Of course, Home Depot doesn’t sell boards in those sizes so they have to be cut down.  Home Depot does do limited cutting for free, mostly to make the boards fit into customer’s cars.  I bought 8 foot boards that I had them cut in half for me for the 4 foot side.  I also bought 12 foot boards that I had cut in half for transportation.  I have my own table saw so I cut them into 3 foot sections myself.  I had to pay for one cut at Home Depot, so I paid 75 cents for my wood to be cut.

Getting these blocks and having Home Depot cut the wood for you is an easy way to build a raised garden bed.  If you don’t have the ability or tools to build your own garden bed I highly suggest doing it this way.

Once my boys and I put the beds together, we filled them as close to the Square Foot Garden method as we could.  That is 1/3rd vermiculite, 1/3rd peat, and compost.  Vermiculite is very expensive so I never quite make the 1/3rd on that.

Then I let the boys plan out what would be in their garden beds.  I bought a few new seeds for them in addition to letting them picks seeds from my collection.  We made a grid on paper and wrote out what seeds were going in each square foot.  I want them to remember what what they planted and see the different stages of growth for each type.

corran garden

Corran doesn’t want to grow vegetables because he doesn’t want to eat them.  I grew corn last year in one of my raised beds, and it actually did pretty good.  I picked a blue corn because I liked the color.  We ended up with a number of ears, but they were not particularly edible.  Corran does like corn so he picked a yellow sweet corn to fill most of his bed.

matthias gardenMatthias really likes carrots so he mostly went this those in his bed.  The Madhu Ras Melons are a type of honey melon from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  They are supposed to be from India and grow well in hot dry areas.  Our summers are very dry and tend to be fairly hot.  Hopefully, this melon will do well here.

ian gardenIan’s garden has the most variety.  He wanted to do corn to be like Corran, but does enjoy a few types of vegetables that he really wanted to try to grow.

I was able to plant Ian’s garden about a 5 days before his brothers.  Our weather has been nearly perfect for sprouting seeds so all of his plants have sprouted.  He is very excited about his garden, and the plants that are growing in it.





Saturday in the Garden: 02/13/2016

Today I spent quite most of the day working in the garden.  Most of my day was building another raised garden bed.  It the last of the beds that I plan to build for this growing season.  Rather then build two small beds, I built one large bed.  It is 15 feet long and just over 4 feet wide.  Like the other beds it is built out of concrete block because that is the best combination of price and durability for me.

Starting to put dirt in place to level the area where the bed is going.
A big stack of blocks

I am pleased with how this bed turned out.  It isn’t totally straight, but it is much better then my last attempt.  The large wood pieces in the bed are rotten tree stumps that were at the house when we bought it.  I am going to break them up and line the bottom of the bed with the pieces of wood.  Eventually, they will decompose and provide nutrients to the plants in the bed.

I also took a few pictures of the yard, and I had Lynn take some for me with her nicer camera.

I was suprised at how much my cabbage and kale seedlings look alike.  I think the one on the left is cabbage and the other is kale.  Now I don’t remember which pictures is which and can’t tell the difference.


My Tom Thumb Pea seedlings are sprouting nicely


Our little Almond tree has begun to flower
Onion flowers
The pomegranate tree is begining to leaf out

The plants are really starting to grow.  Our weather has been unseasonably warm with several days in the low to mid 90s.  All that warm weather has made for some very happy plants, and I can’t wait to see how they grow and eat the food that comes from them.




Weekend In Review: Raised Garden Bed and Lemon Cream

This long weekend we were able to get a number of things done around the house.  I was able to concentrate on cleaning up a section of our yard that was looking pretty bad.  We have Yucca growing in our yard that is very large, some of the plants are above 30 feet tall.  Some of it had been growing over our the fence into our neighbor’s yard.  A couple of weeks ago they built a 12ft tall retaining wall with a 6ft fence on top of it.  To do this they had to clear the yucca which they threw into our yard.  That added to the plant waste already there and some construction debris from their wall made that part look horrible.

I was also able to finish building my 3rd raised garden bed.  I sort of eyeballed the first two and they didn’t end up straight.  Since they are concrete block and are glued together I am stuck with them.  I had already started the third bed, but wanted to make it straighter to my back fence.  I measured the corner of my original bed, and it was about 15 feet from the fence.  I measured 15 feet from the fence where I thought the far corner of the new bed would end up.  As you can see in the following pictures I was way off on the first bed.

I had to dig much more then I had anticipated because I was so far off.  Even thought it was only about a foot deep the clay in my yard is hard and takes time to dig.


I made one big change with this bed.  I decided to use mortar to hold the bricks together rather then the construction adhesive.  The clay makes it hard to dig out a perfectly level area so I always get gaps. Using mortar I figured I would be able to fill the gaps behind the bricks to hold water and dirt in better.

For some reason I always end up with a dip in the bricks on the front wall.  Since it will hold dirt and water and I am never going to fill it to the brim, I really don’t care to much.  It is supposed to be functional rather then beautiful.  Putting the bed in parallel to the fence rather then just in an eyeballed straight line should help to save some space for future use.




I have mentioned a few times that I wanted to make lemon cream. A few days ago, I was finally able to do this thanks to Josh’s help! He is very handy to have around the kitchen!

I used a recipe from Dorie Greenspan. You can find the recipe here.

I have made this recipe once before so it was a little easier for me this time around. The one thing I did differently is that I was actually able to get my mixture up to 180 degrees F! I think the last time I made this cream I only reached around 170 degrees F.



I think I might have used up about half my butter stash on this cream. Fortunately, it was well worth it! The lemon cream in the jars is wonderful on any kind of bread and I have kept one jar in the freezer to bring out once the other is gone. I will probably do that again this time.

My lemon cream pie turned out as well. It actually stayed together when sliced. I had some heavy whipping cream left over from Christmas so I whipped some of it up into whipped cream to top the pie. I had some leftover store-bought pie crust in the freezer so the crust isn’t from scratch. Next time though it will be!

I would have taken a picture on our blue gingham picture-taking cloth but I was in too much of a hurry to eat my slice of pie!

I think the next thing I want to try making with lemons is lemon curd. But I am going to need more butter for that!