planning your own raised garden

There may still be snow on the ground, but it’s not too early to start planning for healthy, fresh summer vegetables, grown in your own garden. 

Raised beds are a popular alternative to in-ground gardening. Planting in raised beds makes it easier to enhance soil quality, control weeds and prevent crop diseases. Raised gardens minimize kneeling on the ground and muddy shoes. It’s simpler to protect raised gardens from hungry bunnies. They can be built to fit most spaces. Raised beds don’t need to be big – you want them small enough to tend the plants without stepping on the soil. Some gardeners even choose to build elevated gardens on backyard decks.

Many vegetables can thrive and produce high yields in raised beds. Consider trying your favorite combination of carrots, beets, radishes, onions, parsnips, lettuce, spinach, kale, tomatoes or potatoes. 

Find a location that has level ground and gets the right amount of sunlight. Six to eight hours per day is ideal. Cedar is the most common wood choice because its natural oils help prevent rotting. Make sure the bed allows for at least 12 inches of soil depth. Plants need a minimum of six inches to root, but to accommodate a variety of vegetables, most gardeners build boxes at least 12-inches deep. Your soil mixture should consist of topsoil, peat moss and composted manure.

Ask for garden gloves and a cute hat for Valentine’s Day. Then plan ahead, and you’ll be ready for planting season. Try The Old Farmer’s Almanac for a basic guide to planning and building your own raised garden. Go to and search “how to use raised beds in your garden,” then visit The Mustard Seed for inspiration and advice.