I have just two words of advice for anyone who wants to start growing vegetables for the first time.
I speak from experience having raised vegetables in a traditional garden plot and now in raised beds. Once the raised beds are set up, it is far easier to grow vegetables in them than in a traditional garden plot.
Spring prep? With a traditional garden plot, you have to wait for the perfect conditions when the ground is not too wet to get out and turn the soil over and prepare it for planting. You can either dig it by hand or use a roto-tiller; neither is as easy as it sounds. Then once the garden is dug up and smoothed over, you generally figure out where the rows will be and hill them up a bit, leaving paths in between them. Tired yet?
With raised beds, the soil dries out faster in the spring, so on the first sunny day you can just whistle your way out to the garden, remove the few weeds that might have sprouted, rake smooth, and plant.
Summer care? With a traditional garden plot, there will come a time, generally around mid-summer, when you will stand there and look at the WHOLE garden and see that it is full of purslane and foxtail, crabgrass and false daisy. Weeds! You can’t even think where to start weeding, and so you abandon the garden to the weeds, venturing in only occasionally to see if perhaps under that morning glory vine you can find those pepper plants you lovingly grew from seed, carefully planted out in the spring, and then abandoned to the weeds.
With raised beds, there will still be weeds, but you can attack them one raised bed at a time and see real progress as you work.
Fall clean up? With a traditional garden plot, it seems like such a big job to clean up the garden that you often end up leaving everything, including your good intentions to clean up the garden, to the ravages of frost and snow so that in the spring, you have to first clear off the old tomato vines, pepper plants and corn stalks before you can dig it all up again. And if you do clean it all up in the fall, you still have to dig the garden up again in the spring.
With raised beds, you can clean up each bed as it winds down, top it off with some compost, and then in the spring, you can start planting again within minutes of deciding it is a perfect spring day to do so.
Another advantage of raised beds? You can start out with just one, perhaps only four feet wide and eight feet long, and then once you taste the success you’ll have growing vegetables in it, you can add more beds as time permits.
Eventually you’ll have a nice big garden and you’ll be growing all the vegetables you could ever eat, plus some extras for the neighbors, your co-workers, family, and perhaps a food pantry nearby.
Two words make it all possible… Raised Beds.