Watch My Food Grow ~ A South Florida Raised Vegetable Garden

Florida Backyard Raised Vegetable Garden

And the garden begins again….

March 17th, 2012 by Lila Steinhoff

I went from one 4-ft by 8-ft box for an above-ground, or raised, garden to multiple boxes this year. One box was very successful… so much so, that I oped for a second one in February. My son had a box that he no longer used, so we disassembled it and moved it to my yard.

Moving it required a trip to the nursery for more soil. The move began by mounting the sides of the box to a flatbed trailer to contain the cubic yard of soil it would take to fill the box. Getting the dirt home was not an issue, but moving it from the trailer to a tarp was more shovel work than I wanted to do. Unfortunately, it comes with the territory. Two hours, and a few sore muscles later, the dirt was moved and the box was removed from the trailer to be reassembled in my yard.

Assembling the Box for a Raised Garden

While my 2nd box came already cut and included hardware, complete instructions for assembling the box from scratch can be found in an earlier post.

Both my sons had a part in getting the box assembled and filled. The pre-cut, exterior grade, 3/4-inch plywood was the hand-me-down from my son and was reassembled in my yard.

My my brother constructed a frame of PVC  pipe to tie cord to which, in turn, will support the green beans as they grow. Choosing what to plant and getting it in the ground was my job.

Weed Barrier is essential

A weed barrier material is essential for above ground gardens in Florida. Weeds and unwanted grass are tenacious and will make their way through 12 inches of soil. The weed barrier keeps out weeds and grass that grow up from the bottom, but lets air and water through. I prefer Weed Block 10-year Fabric made by Easy Gardner. It can be purchased at big box home improvement stores.

What Is Growing

Once the soil was shoveled into the box, it was leveled and given a good soaking prior to planting. Next on the list was choosing what to grow and where to put it. I select only what I eat and in a quantity that will keep me in fresh veggies throughout the growing season. In Florida, the season begins in October and is finished by June or early July except for something like okra that will take the heat.

This year I chose four kinds of tomatoes, three varieties of bell peppers, poblanos, jalapenos, banana peppers, okra, acorn squash, spinach, green beans and herbs… cilantro, basil and chives. Two boxes will grow enough fresh produce to last until the end of the growing season. Of course, seed for something like cilantro must be spread every two weeks or so. Cilantro bolts rather quickly.


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5 responses so far ↓

  • Hi Lila. I’m just finishing up my fall planting and looking at what to plant for the summer. I have a 2 ft x 8 ft box and some pots that I had tomatoes, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, eggplant cauliflower and peppers in. Can’t say my harvest was that good but the plants seemed to thrive and I really enjoy the process more than the harvest. I love planting sunflowers for the summer and last summer I did 2 varities of sweet potatoes which I’m going to order slips to plant for the summer. If your interested let me know and I’ll order extra for you as well. I also do a compost of my kitchen scraps with a zillion red wiggle worms assisting me and again if you need some I’ve got plenty. I’ll be watching this site to see your garden grow. Best of luck. Bob

    • Hi, Bob. Long time…. Thanks for the good words. I’ve been away and just got back, and I hope to post regularly.

      I thank you for the offer of the sweet potatoes, but my boxes are completely full for the summer. I am very interested in composting, though. I’d like to talk to you about it a little later in the summer.

  • For years I planted flowers then realized I should use a patch to grow food. My family loves fresh veggies and it is always so exciting to see them grow in our yard. Right now I am growing tomatoes and bell peppers. Reading your blog reminded me I want to plant basil for pesto sauce and some chives – I love the smell. Great blog!

  • For years, I planted flowers then I realized it would be wonderful to have a patch of vegetables. My family loves fresh veggies and it’s so exciting to see them growing in our yard. Right now I have tomatoes and peppers but this reminded me I want to plant basil for pesto sauce and chives – I love the smell! Great blog and good luck.