Wondering what type of bed is the right one for your garden?  Today Kim {our inadvertent farmer} has come to the rescue to give us the 411 on garden beds, pockets and pots!

We have already laid the ground work in our new how to garden series by learning all about ground site selection and how to improve gardening soils.  Today we’re going to learn about the different ways we can garden, what type of beds or containers to use.

I remember when someone mentioned having a garden a picture of a large tilled flat garden came to mind.  Today the variety of ways people garden is simply astounding!  We have raised beds, gardens in pots and boxes, many people have learned to even hang their gardens on a wall in pockets, and of course there are still the traditional flat tilled gardens in the back yard!

I’m going to start with my very favorite way to garden…raised beds!

How To Garden

In my garden are 12 raised beds made of wood, but they can also be made of concrete blocks, composite decking material, or just about anything you have on hand.  The great advantage to raised beds is the your soil warms up and dries out earlier in the spring.

Raised beds keep little (or big) feet from trampling on the soil and compacting it!  Keeping your soil friable (loose and easily crumbled) is very important for healthy root systems.  With raised beds you have defined spaces between paths and growing surface.  This also has the advantage of looking tidy and organized.

Another thing that I love about raised beds is they lend themselves very well to crop rotation.  Since they are a very defined space you can keep track of what is planted in each bed every year.

Raised Beds ~ How To

This is one of my raised beds planted with early tomatoes.  As you can see it is easy to cover these beds with early or late season protection.

For those of you with less space gardening in pots is a really great option.  With pots you have a very contained growing area and you have to be especially aware of  water and nutrients for you plants.  Make sure you have a very good potting soil to start with that is slightly heavy as a very light soil will dry out too much.  Adding a layer of mulch to the top of your pots will help them from drying out.

You can grow almost anything in a appropriate size pot as you can in a more traditional garden.  Tomatoes love pots as do salad greens, peppers, and potatoes.  You can add a tee-pee type trellis and grow peas or beans.  Squash and melons can be grown up and over the sides of large pots on a back patio!  Even fruits can be grown in pots.  There are dwarf blueberries and all kind of very small fruit trees that would feel right at home on your back deck!

Pot Plants

And let’s not forget strawberries in pots!  This is the very best way around here to keep them up and away from the slugs.

If you do not have a deck or patio or just want to try something groovy and different…try growing on a wall! There are systems for doing just that.  Most of these involve some kind of pockets for putting each plant in and a way of hanging them.  I would suggest you get one with a system for watering built in and some kind of backing to keep the water from off or your wall.

There are many plants the lend themselves to such a system, most greens, strawberries, and things that grow on soft stems…avoid plants that get woody stems like broccoli as it would tumble right out of these!  Even tomatoes can be found growing upside down from plastic sleeves under the eaves of apartment building right here in my own small town!

Ground Garden

There is of course the traditional grown flat in the ground garden!  This was last year’s tomato patch.  It was tilled in the fall with lots of compost and manure added to it.  Then in the spring I covered the paths with newspaper and straw while covering the growing surface with black plastic to help warm it up for my baby tomatoes.  This way is much more work and later on in the season is not nearly as neat looking as raised beds but is an effective way to use a larger space.   Eventually I want to build permanent beds here too.

Almost anybody has the space for at least a small garden, even if it is just a pot or two on a sunny deck.  I would encourage you to find what system works best for you and your family and go out there and plant something!

How to Garden Series:

Step 1 –  Ground Site Selection
Step 2 – Improve Gardening Soils
Step 3 – Garden Beds, Pockets and Pots 101
Next Week – Stay tuned…

If you have any questions about starting a garden or anything we’ve talked about today, please ask it in the comments or on the Tip Junkie Facebook page.  We want you to succeed and would love to help you!

Kim is a small organic farmer who lives in the Pacific Northwest raising organic fruits, veggies, critters, kids, and…a camel!  She blogs at the inadvertent farmer where she dishes on living the authentic country life.  She also hosts a yearly summer-long series and contest called KinderGARDENS that is aimed at instilling the love of gardening to the next generation believing that dirty hands make for healthy, happy kids!