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3 Year Update for Raised Bed Gardening

This raised bed update is sponsored by Miracle-Gro.

Three years ago, I decided to build three really cool looking raised beds for my garden. These would be unlike anything I have ever done before. I went for not only function, but style. You can check out my original post and DIY guide here for my Metal Raised Garden Bed.

Over time, I received numerous questions about how the raised beds were holding up. I’ve learned a lot and would most certainly make some changes and improvements. I’ve also learned a lot about how to better position plants.

Plan Your Garden

When I first built the beds, I have to admit, I did very little planning. If I could go back in time – or even better, if I decided to move all the soil temporarily, I’d use the blueprints available at BonniePlants.com. From guides on laying out your vegetable garden, to some fun themes such as a grilling garden, you can plant and enjoy a higher rate of success.

Amendments and Plant Food

The first year of my raised beds, I didn’t amend the soil at all. I really should have added something more. Miracle-Gro has a really nice mix, Miracle-Gro Performance Organics Raised Bed Soil, which I am now using. The soil has an excellent foundation for any raised bed setup and will certainly add to a successful harvest. No mixing is needed, and its 100% organic – a necessity for my garden.
In addition to soil amendments, Miracle-Gro has a really cool plant food now out, formulated just for raised beds. Utilizing a combination of hydrolyzed feather meal, meat and bone meal, blood meal, and sulfate of potash, Performance Organics Raised Bed Plant Food is excellent for both new raised beds and replanting. Utilizing a plant food will really push your garden in producing some incredible fruits and veggies.

Both of these products by Miracle-Gro can be found at Walmart online and via the Pick Up Today service.

Excess Produce and Reducing Food Waste

If you are following me on Instagram, you may have noticed I embark on quite a bit of travel. Unfortunately for my garden, this means coming back to so much produce ready to be picked I get overwhelmed. I’ve been one of those people trying to pawn off squash to anyone and everyone. This isn’t always an efficient method and results in way more food waste than I really feel comfortable with.
One of the best things you can do with your garden’s excess produce is take it to your local food bank.
If you are wondering about food safety laws – which I did, you’ll be thrilled to know the USDA has this aspect of food donations covered.

All potential donors (whether they are gardeners, farmers market managers, restaurant owners, etc.) should be notified of the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act. This piece of legislation, which was passed by Congress in 1996, removes all liability in regard to food donations from donors if they take necessary precautions to ensure the safety of the food. If, for whatever reason, a donation was given by someone who understood it to be in good condition, but that food later posed a health hazard, the donor would not be held responsible.

Two excellent resources to find a local food bank or pantry near you are:

Donating your excess food provides a significant impact to your local community. You’re reducing your own food waste and helping those suffering from food scarcity by giving them access to fresh, healthy food.
With food bank donations in mind, I’ll be buying those 6-packs of plants from Bonnie Plants and ensuring I have excess ready to donate this year. I’m actually embarrassed that I haven’t made more of an effort to do this in the past.

Metal Raised Bed Build Adjustments

This year, I noticed significant bulging on the longer sides of my raised beds. One contributor I can think of which caused this is much greater rainfall than the previous years. Without enough time to drain, the weight of the waterlogged soil started pushing the metal sides out.
The sides need additional reinforcement, although I haven’t figured out a good method which allows me to keep the seamless exterior look. Have some ideas? Let me know in the comments below!

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2 thoughts on “3 Year Update for Raised Bed Gardening”

  1. I went ahead and used your raised beds as a blueprint for mine I made this summer. Mine are 8×3 out of space constraints. I used leftover pressure treated wood for the corners, and re:bulging I wrapped and stapled a piece of cedar 2×4 w plastic drop cloth and bolted it on to two additional pieces of wood I slapped on to each of the 8ft sides halfway. It looks sharp and if I want to add a rail for sitting down in the future it provides for another screw/contact point. There’s a study from Oregon State where they tried something similar for 4×4 posts and the result was greatly increased life for posts. Happy to share some pictures if you are interested.

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  2. I like these beds and the integrated irrigation. For the bulging sides, since you will need to remove the dirt in order to bring them back in, I would do 2 things. First, I would create better drainage at the bottom of the beds with a 6″ layer of rock, styrofoam, or something that will allow water to drain away easier. Then replace dirt on top. For the sides, I would run a piece of galvanized steel pipe across the middle of the bed, about halfway down from the top with flange floor fittings screwed on either end of the pipe. Then you only need to run small bolts in from the outside thru the flange fitting which would not interfere with aesthetic very much.

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