Paula Pettis is the owner of Prissy Pots Landscaping. She is a writer and speaks at garden association meetings.

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No Room to Grow
by Paula Pettis    

A variety of crops can be grown in raised beds. Raised beds can be 12 inches tall or waist high, it is the preference of the homeowner. These taller beds require very little bending for the harvest and are a beautiful addition to the backyard.

As Audrey Hepburn once said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” I can safely say that we all believe in tomorrow and love planting gardens. The biggest obstacle that faces many homeowners is the lack of space for a garden. Who wants only one tomato plant? Not me! There are several ways to get the biggest bang for your buck and take advantage of very little space.

Raised garden beds have proven to be a huge success and produce a bounty of vegetables and herbs. Raised beds are made out of a variety of items such as hay bales, treated lumber, cinder blocks, stone, fencing, and pallets. Raised beds can be built up on legs so that no bending down is required and can be as simple or fancy as you may like. A bed that is longer in length and no wider than 4 feet will make harvesting easier by allowing you to sit at the edge of the bed and easily reach the produce rather than having to step into the garden.

The key to the success of any of your gardens is LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! Gardens that are placed at the very back of your property will be forgotten about. Incorporate your gardens into your outdoor patio areas where they are easily accessible for watering and harvesting. Gardens need sunlight so placement will be subject to the sunniest area. Fence in a small area for raised beds and make it attractive. Vegetables and herbs can be combined with your flowering plants. Container gardening has reached far beyond pretty flowers and now includes vegetables as well. Many homeowners have great success with containers. The beauty of raised beds and containers is that you can control your soil. Many homeowners are plagued by poor soil conditions which results in terrible gardens. Always use a nutrient-rich garden soil when preparing your gardens. This is a great time to use your compost pile!

As with most projects, things can get a little overwhelming at first. If this is your first garden, start small. A lot of vegetables can be grown in a 10-foot square bed. A thick layer of mulch will help conserve moisture in the soil and help keep weeds at bay. Stay on time with the harvest. Picking vegetables when they are ripe allows the plant to redirect its energy toward growing the next crop. As one crop is finished, go ahead and remove the plants and plant another vegetable in its place. Succession plantings will lead to several harvests spread out over several months. Since space in your kitchen garden is at a premium, plant those vegetables that you will want to harvest a little at a time.

Even if you build have a beautiful raised garden bed or containers, pests may become a problem. Ants are a big problem for many homeowners. Sprinkle ground cinnamon where you do not want ants – they will not cross a line of cinnamon. A huge problem with planting a tasty garden is that deer will want to taste it too! Many people build a fence around the garden but it has to be a tall fence. A few other tips are to hang scented dryer sheets from posts, shrubs, or trees; hang bars of soap from trees that surround the garden; last but not least, my grandmother’s tried-and-true method, which is to bag up hair from her local salon and sprinkle it around the garden. Of course, all of these methods will have to be repeated every few weeks but it is worth the effort to keep the deer from eating your crops.

Herbs are a wonderful addition to mixed containers. I have found that many of my clients harvest their herbs more frequently when they are in containers just a few steps away from the door. Upright rosemary and lavender make wonder thriller plants while cilantro, parsley, basil, and chives are great fillers. I have used a wide variety of herbs for spiller plants such as mint, oregano, prostrate rosemary, and thyme. Terra-cotta pots filled with herbs are a great addition to flowerbeds. The pots add texture and height to flowerbeds.

Stepping outside your backdoor to harvest fresh and delicious vegetables to cook and serve; what could be better than that?



This small area of the lawn was transformed into a kitchen garden only a few steps from the back porch. While the garden beds are edged with stone and landscape timbers, the garden is not raised. The harvest from this garden will provide enough vegetables for immediate consumption by a family of four and excess that can be canned or frozen for future use.


A bounty of squash is easily harvested from this raised container garden. Back aches and weeds are a thing of the past.


Adding pots of herbs to the flowerbeds create additional color, height, and texture. This flower garden is planted on the outside perimeter of a fenced garden. Keeping all of the plants to harvest in close proximity of each other will make harvesting easier.


Raised garden beds allow year-round gardening in most areas. As you see, hoops were added to these beds to provide easy protection from the cold. The homeowner can remove the cover as needed.



A version of this article appeared in a State-by-State Gardening print edition in October 2015. Photography by Gary Bachman.



Posted: 09/30/15   RSS | Print


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