The Garden Plot


I didn’t have a garden last year, unless you count this little stone bed by the driveway. I grew a few peppers and cherry tomatoes in here, along with some herbs, while I contemplated my garden conundrum. (Rosemary still going, second winter in a row.)
(That’s Ross’s truck parked in my driveway. He wants to sell it, so he left it here and took my truck back to Norfolk after Christmas.)

I considered portioning out a corner of the front barn yard to make a raised bed garden. It would have to be fenced off high and secure to keep livestock out of it, and really, growing vegetables right in front of them almost sounds mean, doesn’t it?

Then I got this other idea…. I started this deck project to the side of the studio last year. It remains uncompleted, but that’s about to change. Here are several different views of The Area.
This area of the yard is a problem area. It’s sloped and inconvenient and pretty much useless. There’s nothing growing in there–I’ve lived here through the seasons now, so I’m sure of it. It’s just grass. Grass that has to be cut. Grass that has to be cut with a weedeater. You can’t do it with a lawnmower. It’s a laborious task. There are other options, such as try to get some attractive ground cover going, but there’s a lot of grass to contend with before that would work without ongoing management. I’m not interested in pursuing that option.

I started this deck not sure how I wanted to finish it, so I stopped the work on it for awhile. I just wanted to cover up this area–but that’s a lot of deck, more than I need. Railing will be added to the lower platform, but what about the rest of the space, yet open? I left an opening to make steps down to lead behind the stone bed to something to be built on the remaining open area. What if I decked the remaining area and put in raised beds? And probably framed it up the sides with some fencing, a screen door, so the garden beds would be protected from the chickens and dogs. Handy to the kitchens in both the house and the studio, and no worries about deer. Good use of space and can even be attractive.

This spring, it’s going to happen!


  1. brookdale says:

    Sounds like a Master Gardener plan! Looking forward to seeing the end results.
    Does the spot get lots of sun? The rosemary is still alive, so it must be OK!
    Raised beds are the way to go. They DO seem to need more water, but warm up earlier in the spring. By the way, have you read “Lasagna Gardening” by Patricia Lanza? Her gardens need NO tilling or digging, you just lay down newspaper or cardboard and build up the gardens from there. A good way to go on a slope.
    Good luck!

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      Square foot gardening in raised beds needs no tilling either, which is why I want to go that way! I know about lasagna gardening, but I plan to go the route of square foot gardening with a good soil mix. Building out a platform integrating it into the deck will eliminate the slope issue and automatically give me nice walkways between the beds. And yes, plenty of sun, and there is water available right there.

  2. SarahGrace says:

    Great idea! From my reading and what friends have said, raised beds produce the most per sq. ft. Plus they are easier to weed. 🙂 We are still not going to do a garden this year. Still too much we need to figure out and landscape before we put in a garden along with all the protection it would need from our critters.

  3. outbackfarm says:

    Fantastic idea! It’s the perfect place for several terraced garden spots. You probably have some leftover lumber and you have a big truck and tractor. And tons of manure! You’d just need some good soil and some good strong men helpers and there ya go.

  4. Mary in VA says:

    I would terrace it. That will cut down on how much dirt you need to move and would make it easier to maintain different beds for different plants. You can terrace it with deck lumber or railroad ties (whichever is easier to get in your area).

  5. FujiQ says:

    There’s only problem with gardening…you keep finding reasons to have more sq ft. I could still see you having a muuuuch larger garden than that, but still, that’s a great use of the space! I have heard lots of good things about raised beds. Are you planning on digging down, i.e. amending the soil at least 6 inches down? That will make for some EXCELLENT carrots, which, I must say, are great for small spaces 🙂

  6. MousE says:

    Oh yes, raised beds would be lovely there! Suzanne, I have a question regarding the raised parts of the decks. I don’t see cross bracing on the uprights in the taller section. Shouldn’t there be cross bracing to stabilize the deck and prevent wobbling? Something to ask your handy people? If you don’t mind me asking.

    Spring, yay! Planning for spring. How lovely. :dancingmonster:

  7. MousE says:


    Why is Ross selling his truck? She asked, curious. = 😀

  8. thimblevee says:

    Sounds like a splendid plan to me!! Definitely raised beds or terraced. I can’t wait to see the plan carried out and planted!!! V

  9. bonita says:

    Sounds like a great idea. Two comments, from experience with raised beds: Leftover lumber will rot quickly, making more work in 3-4 years. Railroad ties are usually treated with creosote–which can burn vegetation and leach into soil. (Making treated landscape lumber a better option.)

  10. EightPondFarm says:

    I am not sure I quite understand, but am positive it is a great plan! I had a hillside I could not take the tractor down to cut so decided to make it a garden last year. I was able to get water there, but I did not do enough to terrace out the area and it was so hard to get up and down that darn hillside to harvest. Grew fine, just hard on the old legs. We had a lot more trouble keeping chickens and deer out too but it sounds as if you have that problem solved. Love the proximity!

  11. boulderneigh says:

    Great idea!

  12. joykenn says:

    I don’t understand either quite what you are planning. I could see terracing the hillside beside the truck all the way up the slope. Are you planning on leaving the bed with the rosemary and turning that into an herb bed. Then a raised bed above it to the lower deck without a rail or steps down behind the rosemary bed. Where would the decking go? All the way to the rosemary bed? Then the raised bed on the remaining slope, where the two railway ties are now?

    Whatever you decide to do I do think you are right that this area is MADE for a vegetable garden area. Square foot gardening is the way to go for less effort and maximum yield. My problem is I can’t decide when to take out the tomatoes and what to plant after. Sigh. I hate to rip out vegetables in the hope that I can grow something else.

  13. DeedainSeattle says:

    Try getting a hold of the book, “Concrete block gardens” or something like that…it was an eye-opener for me! Yes, the blocks do cost money, but they are cheap, moveable (even by me, 5’4″) and I love sitting on the edge of my raised beds, tilling or weeding so easily! They also don’t rot, or give off toxins like creosote railway ties. I plant carrots, lettuce, spinach, and bush beans in the holes, and the author TELLS you how to make your own soil from compost, sand, and I think it was peat moss… You can make low beds or tall beds (mine are 3 high) and they warm up quickly in the Spring! Try it!

  14. AspenFlower says:

    If I’m understanding correctly…you’re thinking about putting in a decked of raised beds in that patch of lawn space in pictures 1 &2? What about building a garden out yonder on that patch of land to the left of Picture 5? That looks like a good plot of space to occupy for a garden, and that way a raised garden out in front of your studio next to the deck won’t make things look too cluttered with things. Open space is good in front of a house, in this case your studio. What about planting instead a flower garden…that would be nice and welcoming instead and would fill in the space quite well with there being a slop on that patch of land.

  15. holstein woman says:

    Suzanne, I think it sounds wonderful, I only wish I could say the same for mine. You go girl!!!!

  16. AspenFlower says:

    *Slope I meant slope not slop. & I also meant putting in a flower garden in that patch of land in front of the studio, like on the ground kind of a flower garden since there’s a slope there. That would look nice…or outdoor plants perhaps. I don’t mean a flower container garden but a flower garden right in that soil there. I think flowers or plants are beautiful & they do make a home look welcoming. Since that’s a front entry way area you can bring in some logs or rocks to line the garden area and then plant some annuals or plants. Also, I meant that a veggie/herb garden should be planted out on that land yonder in pic#5 just in case you do decide to extend your garden. But yes, what’s important is that you are happy with your home since you’re the one living in it! Do as you wish. I’m just giving my opinions of what I think would look nice there. I love decorating & landscaping, and I’m sure you do too so whatever you decide, just have fun with it!

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      AspenFlower, the area you’re talking about can’t be used as a vegetable garden. The septic is buried there and that area needs to be left clear. There is a very large flower garden on the other side of the studio and I absolutely don’t need another to (not) take care of, LOL.

  17. patty1297 says:

    Or a great area for a hot tub to enjoy after a long work day. Drinking wine under the stars and dreaming of the future.

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