Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Raised Beds from Bare Bones and a First Time Tomato Grower's Mistake!

Photos of my 1st garden in March 2013 
from the bare beginning and right before I re-vamp it for 2014

I had 3 old metal troughs to begin with and I placed them on cinder blocks.  I built my gardens in troughs because I do not have soil in the hill country. Our ground is all limestone rock, so build raised beds & bring soil in.

3/4 of the troughs were filled with 'garden' soil mix (NOT TOP SOIL) from a local landscape supplier & 1/4 compost at 6" deep on top of the garden soil mix.  Top soil can carry weeds, diseases, and unwanted pests. 

I also added mulch to the top layer using cedar & hardwood mulch at about 2 inches depth after I planted my transplants. 

I found scrap lumber to build raised bed veggie boxes.  I recruited my husband to help build them!

I planted indeterminate tomatoes in 2 of these troughs! 

WOW! How funny to look back now and see how that was such a brain fart! 

I had never grown tomatoes before and didn't realize the INDETERMINATE tomatoes meant they were going to get 6-10 feet TALL! It was hard to manage but in return I had a whole continuous season of heirloom tomatoes!

I had problems with birds drilling holes in my tomatoes and lots of tomato worms!


Cherokee Purple Heirloom

They tasted WONDERFUL and sweet! I had a drip irrigation on all my tomato plants so the foliage never got wet unless it rained. 
If I let it get too dry for a period of days or if it rained a few days in a row these tomatoes would crack a lot.

I planted marigolds all around my tomatoes. I had a lot of tomato horn worms (caterpillars) and I would not spray, I would just pick them off by hand and place them in a feeding dish on my bird feeder for the wild birds.

Green Zebra Heirloom

These tasted very sweet, and I would eat them with fresh mozzarella. The yield was a little smaller than I thought. Heirlooms will have a smaller yield compared to industrial varieties.

One of the many harvests I brought in the house.


I also planted Japanese cucumbers which did really well in the trough. I choose Japanese cucumbers because they say they have less seed or smaller seed. I bought all transplants that year.

My Cucumber Plants - I had planted two hills of three plants per hill in this one four-foot trough.

I had A LOT of bees working the cucumber flowers! It was humming so loud in the mornings! I had never planted cucumbers before & I let these get too big before picking. Cucumbers are tasteless and more dry/fibrous if left too long.

Gourds and Loofah

I started with a few 3' X 3' boxes and I had planted Gourds & loofah sponges in the long 18' X 3' wood box. I had never planted gourds & loofah sponges before and I sure learned a lot from doing so. 

I have come to realize you should not plants gourds in a veggie gardens and especially near other squashes. It greatly hindered my pumpkin crop. I had an outbreak of squash beetles. 

I now know to grow gourds far away from the garden as I have been told they can be very invasive, which you will see the aggressive vines as the photos progress below.

The gourd & loofah sponge flowers are white & they open in the evening. They stink like rotten dung but attract many flies and sphinx moths.


I always loved cooking with real whole foods, wanted a deeper connection to where our food came from & learned how rewarding a garden can be - not just through the seasonal harvests but how it influences your life in all aspects of your mind, heart & spiritual being - it brings our family closer together & nurtures our soul through therapeutic adventures.


  1. It look so pretty i wish i had more room to grow veggies.

  2. That's my little sis! She did so good for a first timer!!

  3. Oh my goodness, your garden beds and the veggies that flourished! Just beautiful, all around! I'm inspired.

  4. She's a natural! We're going to have a watermelon growing contest this summer with our cousin. It should be A LOT of fun!!

  5. I love seeing what you did last year, and the changes you are looking to make for this year. I'm hoping to have my first garden this year... so we'll see!

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