starting a vegie garden

Waitakere City, New Zealand

I have usually grown my vegies in pots on the deck, works out really well, but I have now decided to make a vegie garden, so I am able to grow heaps more.
Can someone please tell me the best way to start, set up and get going with growing. The intention is to develop a raised garden on some existing lawn,
what do I need to do to get this going, what soils, fertilisers, etc, also do I need to remove the top lawn or just dig it in.????
So many questions hope it is worth it.

Belfield, ND(Zone 4a)

By a raised garden, do you intend to build a frame and add soil inside the frame to grow your veggies in? If so, how high are you going to make it?

If it's going to be a foot or so off of the ground, I don't see any need to remove the lawn first. That's deep enough that it's not going to grow through. If it's only going to be a few inches high, then I would remove the lawn first.

Waitakere City, New Zealand

Thanks for being so quick, we intend to use a wooden frame 1foot high (300mms), also on that subject I can get for free treated timber for the frame, I think that if I paint it, it will stop the leitching that would normally damage the soil then damage the plants, any thoughs on this. I thought of using the treated timber as it will last longer in outdoor conditions.

Belfield, ND(Zone 4a)

Do you know what the timber is treated with? I would try to find out, then make the decision whether it was safe to use near where I was growing food. I would be very careful with that, and consider lining the sides of the raised bed with heavy plastic if you do use them. Something that might be considered harmless now may be discovered to be harmful later.

Waitakere City, New Zealand

Don't know what it is treated with, will find out. So do you mean wrap each piece of wood in plastic or just line it like a swimming pool????
So until I find out what it is treated with, any more info on the actual garden.

Belfield, ND(Zone 4a)

I would line the sides with the heavy plastic and also along the bottom of the timbers where they meet the ground. I would leave the bottom open to the earth though, so the earthworms can find their way up into your raised bed to help break down the organic material. The earthworms put a lot of good nutrients back into your garden.

I would find the best topsoil you can to fill it with and amend it with compost and organic materials. A raised bed, like a pot, needs almost continual amending, since the growing plants take a lot of the nutrients from the soil. I'm not one to use commercial fertilizer, but if you are wanting to do that, hopefully someone will come along that can help you with that question.

Waitakere City, New Zealand

Thanks for that..

Burlingame, CA(Zone 9a)

Wilflower, you might want to take a look at the Yates Garden Guide for a lot of great local information. When I first started growing vege's back in Wellington I found it to be invaluable, although they do tend to push their own products quite a bit. Of course, since discovering 'Dave's Garden Guide' I don't use it much anymore. :-)

Here's a link that might be useful:

Independence, MO(Zone 6a)

I'm planning to make a raised bed this year. After reading a lot on web & books, I've decided to make mine 4x8' and a foot high, using 2x6" untreated cedar boards. I'd use redwood but I'm not independently wealthy so that's out. I plan to lay it directly on top of the grass; with any luck I'll be able to set it up between the clumps of daffodils in my back yard. One site suggested putting a layer of newspaper in the bottom, which I like, as it would stifle taprooted weeds like dandelions. But I don't have newspaper, either. I have 3 large pots with rather exhausted soil in them, from growing veggies in them last year; I plan to dump the soil from them into the bottom of the bed, then fill up the rest of it with about 25 cu ft of good topsoil and composted manure. Finally, to fend off the vast armies of squirrels and the rabbits that live under my garden shed, I plan to set bamboo stakes around the inside edge of the bed and wrap netting around it up the stakes. I expect that to end up about knee high on me, enough to keep the critters out. While the peas are coming up I plan to stretch some of the netting across the top, too, to keep the birds away until the peas are established.

Waitakere City, New Zealand

Thanks for that, sorry to take so long to reply, another great natural plant to keep away certain bugs - especially for tomatoes etc is marigold flowers. They really work I have only had to spray for mildew on the leaves due to the hot humid weather, have seen the white butterfly come around and then just disappear after smelling the marigolds. Have a great crop of tomatoes....

Independence, MO(Zone 6a)

I set up the raised bed, 4x8' by 1' high, yesterday, using untreated cedar boards, and plastic joints and stakes that nearly sank of their own weight into my early spring lawn (Kansas City area). I've pretty well decided to line the bottom with landscaping cloth as I've got some strange weeds in the space that I don't want duking it out with the tomatoes. The bed slopes just a tad to the east so I'm not very worried about drainage. My next step will be to dump my 3 pots' worth of dud soil into the bottom of the bed and then fill up with 25 cu ft of nice fresh vigorous topsoil and composted manure. Then I'll let it settle for a week and finally fill it with tomato towers and cages and the bamboo stakes & netting and poke some peas in. -- Oh, it is soooo cool -- I can see it from my bedroom window.
My rabbit family already has clover and wild strawberries in the lawn; they don't need the sweat of my brow. As for the birds, I plan to grow sunflowers along the back fence just for them.
For the bugs I plan to grow rue, hyssop, dill, and marigolds, but I'm not past tossing in a few annual poppy and nasturtium seeds, just for fun. In my seedling nursery the rue and hyssop are already started, along with artichokes, 3 kinds of tomatoes, and husk cherries. I'll sow bok choi in a couple of weeks, and direct-sow lettuces and chard and the dill and marigolds. The last frost date around here is mid-April and I expect to pull out the harvested snow peas and put in the tomatoes around the 1st of May. Oh, yes, those big pots will have potatoes and leeks -- they both need hilling up so I expect them to be able to play nice together.
Oh, this is half the fun of gardening, imagining a 4x8' Garden of Eden while the forecast calls for snow!

Waitakere City, New Zealand

good luck with your garden and I am sure it will produce wonderful fruits for you to enjoy, nothing like going outside to pick your own produce.....Yum
Also another tip try planting basil amongst your tomatoes - another natural stopper of white fly.

Good eating

Brisbane, Australia


i recently started growing vegies in pots. Will be starting a raised vegies garden in spring. So far I have tomatoes, lettuce, strawberries, carrots, parsley and recently planted potatoes.

I was wondering if anyone knows how long it takes for the above vegies to fruit or be ready for harvest?

It being winter right now, i think it's slowed down the tomatoes, but there still growing reasonably well.

In spring i'll be adding Celery, Zucchini, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Beans, Peas, pumpkin, along with the above vegies. I'll be using treated pine railway sleepers and the garden will be 3m x 3m and 200mm high. The landscape place has suggested using 2 different types of soil, both organic materials.

Another thing, does anyone use a compost bin? If so, what is better to use. A worm compost or a standard compost bin? Not sure what to purchase, which would be the best option.

Santa Rosa, CA

I'm not sure about the weed cloth under the raised bed. Many roots can grow several feet down into the earth. I didn't use it (expensive) and just get some suface weeds.
If you have gophers I would put 1/2 inch wire down before you build your bed.
Also, expect to add more soil next year as it settles quite a bit the first couple of years.
I kinda of went all out the first year (put my back out putting in a garden to "get healthy"after quitting smoking!). We bought "turkey mulch" from a local soil place, added garden soil from the same place.
I now make my own compost and have access to chicken manure (which I compost because it is so "hot"), aged horse manure (hot if fresh)and goat manure mixed with straw.
I messed up by doing an 8x8' bed, but my new beds are going to be 4x8'.
I also add yuk from my fish pond to my compost and water the plants with the fish water from time to time.
We are now starting to do the pottager thing adding fruit trees and flowers to our small garden area. I have a new greenhouse to play with also.
Gosh! I talk so much! Hope ome of this helped!
I also hope I can find my way back here!

Danville, IN(Zone 5b)

I have found no till garden to be an excellent way to weeding....helps since I am now limited. You can google and Youtube all sorts of info on "No Till Gardening"

Tonto Basin, AZ

A couple of thoughts, wilflower.

Although I'm leary of treated lumber, I use it (just not aresnic treated - probably banned in NZ llike in the US) and I line the bed. I've used heavy plastic as a liner and found it unsatisfactory because it began to deteriorate within a couple of years. My choice now is the cheapest thinnest plywood I can find.

As an alternative, in one bed I tried cedar, which is relatively inexpensive. It has held up well and shows not sign of rot, but I used 1" thick material, which warps a lot. It's unsightly and lets too much water out the sides. Next time 2" stock.

Good luck.

Hutto, TX(Zone 8b)


You may want to consider changing the shape of your raised bed. If you make it 3 metres square, then you will not be able to reach the middle from the outside and you will have to walk around in your garden space. Also, you might want to go a little deeper, 200 mm isn't very deep for most plants, unless you have good soil under the raised bed too.

I would suggest making beds 3 metres by 1 metre, about 300 mm deep, or even 400 mm if possible. you could leave a half-metre or so between each bed. That would allow you to use all the space for growing, and there wouldn't be anywhere that you couldn't reach from an edge.

For the things you've planted in pots, the seed packets for the varieties you planted should have a days-to-maturity listed. If not, you can look it up online if you know the cultivar name. There's no way to know exactly if you don't have the cultivar, though. Also even the days given is only a guide, it can vary depending on the weather, soil conditions, and moisture.

Good luck expanding your growing! Once you get started you want to keep doing more. : )


Tonto Basin, AZ

Quote from dreaves :
. . . You may want to consider changing the shape of your raised bed. . . 3 meters by 1 meter. . .)

He's right, IMHO, on both width and depth. I like 600cm spacing between rows, I have an easier time with the wheel barrow. You'll enjoy raised beds gardening, but I should caution you, it can be addictive.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Colleen - my rule of thumb is to allow three months from seeding to harvest for most vegetables, and six months for sweet potatoes. Trying to remember how long each vegetable needs, gives me a headache! LOL

Foxboro, MA

I based my raised bed off the description in this book.

At my mother's suggestion I put down wire fencing at the the bottom of the bed to help deter any moles, voles, etc. Try to get a small mesh though since if they can fit their heads through any opening they can get their bodies through. I did not turn the soil over. Just covered it with 12 inches of new soil. My local landscape supply sold a 50/50 mix of soil and compost so that's what I used. My veggies were huge. Now I add additional compost, alfalfa meal, bone meal, and kelp meal once or twice a year to keep it happy. I tried some cover crops at the end of the season last year but all of the plants that were still in there shaded the seeds too much and I didn't get much of a crop. I'll try again this year though.

I HIGHLY recommend that you invest in some fencing. An ounce of prevention..... I went with a simple roll of wire fencing and 4 metal poles in the corner of the bed. We tied the ends with zip ties which made it really easy to take down for the winter. I will also recommend that you stick with a bed that's not much more than 3 feet wide. It is really hard to reach into the bed if it's much wider than that.

If you don't get many free worms with your soil you may want to buy some red wigglers. I added 1/2 pound (~ 250 worms) to each 3 x 12 bed. They are quite happy in there and making new babies for my soil. :)

Foxboro, MA

Hi Wilflower,

Couple more thoughts, if you're going to fence in your bed it will be easier to water if you lay down soaker hoses first. It gets hard to water just the roots once everything fills in. And if you want to kill the grass but not use landscaping fabric, just apply a thick layer of newspaper or cardboard over the grass before adding your soil. These will smother the grass but break down over time and allow roots and worms through.

Pulaski, GA

I'm researching No Till Gardening. Does Dave's Garden have a forum for that topic? It does have one for container gardening and lasagna gardening.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Lasagna gardening is the same thing. As far as I know.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Where did you see lasagna gardening I didn't see it but I'm sure it's there. Lol

Palm Coast, FL(Zone 9a)

I used the 'lasagna' method one year with fabulous success! takes a bit of planning and gathering materials, but over time, you end up with a very rich planting bed.

Lake Charles, LA(Zone 9a)

i did a wait-and-see method. i started my seeds indoors and see exactly how many would germinate. once the seedlings get tall enough, i figure out the proper spacing for the plants and dig my plot. then i slowly add more to the garden as the seedling grow.

Multan, Pakistan

I wish to ask your experience of growing vegs on deck ... It sounds great to make a vegies garden your own and enjoy freshness of food! I believe in current time, It is easy to grow vegetables anywhere - windowsill, garden, garrage or in small container as long as you are use-to. I will try to put up my experience as I am starting experiments on unusual types of vegetables.
More information on Growing Veg Indoors:

This message was edited May 13, 2012 7:51 AM

Wildwood Lake, TN

You can also build a greenhouse to protect your plants once you have gotten the hang of it. I have one next to my garden shed where I keep my tools and it has been a lot easier to manage with better results. I got mine built really cheaply by and for the quality I recommend them. But there's also do-it-yourself manuals out there on the web and books on how to build sheds and greenhouses at the home improvement stores.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> Also, expect to add more soil next year as it settles quite a bit the first couple of years.

I agree. Compost and organic matter, especially, need to be replaced every year. Whether you just top-dress or turn it under, it will be consumed by soil life VERY quickly until you've added so much that the soil is super-rich ... and then it will still be digested FAIRLY quickly.

What would a good recipe be, for intensive growing? Adding 2-4 inches of compost every year? More?

I would work against compaction by turning under (every few years) amendments that won't decompose or compact very quickly. Pine bark (fines, shreds and chunks) will last 2-3-4 years. Grit, Perlite, coarse sand, and very fine gravel, of course, are forever. Peat and vermiculite turn to powder in one season at most.

Wood chips and sawdust will suck the nitrogen right out of your soil if you turn it under, so compost it first. Also, it does not last as long as bark, and tends to create gross fungusy masses while breaking down (in my beds, anyway). Use wood chips as a top-mulch, and only turn wood under after it's mostly broken down.

(Or, bury wood deeply after looking up "hugelculture". That's like lasgana gardening on top of a woodpile.)

My tendency is to turn or double-dig clay soil deeply every year for the first few years, adding as compost as I can afford, bark, manure and sometimes grit. If it's a gooey, uniform pudding texture, I know that it isn't letting air in or water through.

For my soil, this seems necessary until the soil is so amended and organic and full of life and roots that I think it will sustain it's structure for several years - and then I still want to turn it deeply every few years so it doesn't settle and squeeze out all the air channels. Maybe in time a broakforking would be enough to keep it "open".

I have yet to create soil that didn't revert to clay within a few years, expect for on e shallow bed that was mostgly bark, grit and compost with just a little clay. Now, it is around 30% roots and has to be "cut" instead of shoveled!

But I usually only add 1-2" of compost each year - really I need to double or triple that for a while.

>> My local landscape supply sold a 50/50 mix of soil and compost so that's what I used.

That does sound like a good way to start! Some placves sell a three-way mix: equal soil, sand and compost. I think that sharp, irregular crushed rock in a coarse grit grade (1-3 mm) is better than sand for drainaged, but sand does seem to help friability.

I think my clay is so heavy I might need to mix it with three parts compost. But once the compost was digested by worms, bugs and microbes, I'd be back to pure pudding-clay. If I had all the money in the world and a team of strong backs with wheelbarrows, I think I would start with 25-25-25-25 clay, grit, bark and compost. Then I would add another 15-20% compost per year every year (often top-dressing). I'd mulch with 2" of coarse bark adding enough coarse bark to maintain the 2", and then every few years turn the mulch under along with medium and fine fresh bark plus yet compost.

Hopefully, after 10 years of that, it would be good enoguh soil that it only needed 2-3" olf compost every year and some mulch.

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