Yes, I did it….I broke up with my veggie containers. I know, I know, I’m stunned, too. I never thought I could do it. I’m still a bit shaken, but this is the story….
It was love at first sight for me and my containers. The attraction was immediate and our relationship got off to a roaring start. Long before everyone was doing it in containers, I was lovingly planting my herbs and experimenting with tomato varieties. I was weeping over aphid invasions and lamenting when I found my thirsty loves languishing over the sides desperately seeking water from somewhere….anywhere. I enjoyed the reckless freedom of no weeding and the euphoria of moving my containers at will, redesigning my patio space whenever I liked. It was all perfect…since I garden on a mere 1/4 acre lot, containers planted with veggies, herbs & annuals have been the ideal garden companion. We’ve been great together. When we started I had no idea it would last this many years!
So it’s was a crushing blow to my gardening senses when I realized that while my containers offer so much, they do have limitations. They just weren’t fulfilling all my veggie growing needs anymore. I know. I sound so cold. All these years that we’ve been together. It wasn’t an easy decision. All winter long I wrestled back and forth with what I would do when spring came. Would I go one more season with them or just cut-to-the-chase and break it off?
I almost backed out. I mean, it was a huge step….my containers have been front and center in my gardening life for soooo long. But deep inside I knew I needed a change. Once I fully came to my decision, I knew it was right even if it wasn’t going to be easy. Starting a new relationship with raised beds required planning, additional cost, and more sweat equity than I anticipated, but my recent harvest of French Breakfast radish and baby Peppermint swiss chard have me swooning!
I hope you don’t think I’m crass for sharing or going on like this, but maybe you’re considering making a change, too? If so, here are the top 6 reasons why I”m thrilled with my new garden digs:
Raised garden beds provide more space than containers, but still leave plenty of room for my shrubs and perennials. I put in two 4×4 beds and one 4×6 bed which adds up to 56 sq. feet of gardening space. I easily quadrupled my container space. It’s a wonderful addition.
Better Moisture Control
I always intended to add an irrigation system to my containers, but it was costly and cumbersome on my patio. So I hand watered every day, often twice a day on really hot days or long periods without rain. I also had to get someone to water if I went away for more than a day. Now I give my raised beds a thorough soaking every other day (less when it rains) and I’m done. More time to sit and enjoy the garden!
No matter where I put my pots on my patio, they caught the wind because of their height. Tomatoes and other veggies need deeper (taller) pots to accommodate their deeper roots. My new garden beds are lower and don’t get so badly beaten up by the westerlies that come barreling across my yard.
Better and Less Expensive Soil
Growing veggies in pots means replacing all that soil yearly. Ugh! Fresh plants need fresh soil and purchasing that much potting soil annually gets pricey! Even mixing my own potting soil was costly. While I do need to amend my raised beds to maintain a nutritious soil, it’s cheaper and less hassle. That means a little more time and money to invest in the plants!
Easier Clean up and No Storage
This was the deal clencher. It’s me, I know it, but I really dislike bleaching my pots at the end of the season. If you grow annuals and aren’t’ that picky, maybe you can get away without cleaning them every year. But edibles are different and sanitizing containers is a must for a good crop. My raised beds do not require bleaching and I can leave them right where they are….I no longer have to figure out to put where all those containers over the long midwest winters.
Extended Growing Season
This is something I’m looking forward to….I can extend my growing season in raised beds by purchasing a glass top! I can now have early lettuce and late season cold crops. More on this as I progress.
There you have it. My story and the six main reasons for switching from containers to raised beds for most of my veggies. I admit, I’m digging the change! I’ll be posting soon on how we built and installed our raised beds…..the costs, specs, materials, etc. It wasn’t hard. So check back.
PS Also, thanks for indulging me in my little garden drama. I really do love my new raised beds, and I haven’t completely given up on my veggie containers. I still grow cherry tomatoes and some herbs in them. We’re still friends.