How to Start a Fall Garden with Raised Beds

Whether you have gardened before or you are interested in beginning, this is the perfect time to start planning a fall garden. Growing produce for autumn really gets going in August and September so taking the time in July to prep your space is so important. And what better way to do that than planning out and building raised beds!

fall garden with raised beds
How my beds currently look!

Using a raised bed to grow fruits and vegetables has so many benefits. The majority of Houston has notoriously bad clay-filled soil, so you can fill your raised beds with a healthy mix of nutrient-rich soil and compost that will serve your plants much better. Also, you have full control over the build of your beds so you can make them as big or small as you want, play with the design, and control the placement to maximize sun and water drainage. They can also be very attractive additions to a backyard landscape whether you live in the country or in a townhouse downtown.

Ok, so where do I start?

Consider your GARDENING GOALS. What are you trying to grow and for what purpose? This will tell you how much room you need so how big and deep to make your beds. For instance, lettuce can grow with shallow beds but root vegetables like potatoes and carrots will need deeper areas. 

Think about LOCATION and DESIGN. Most plants are going to need 6-8 hours of full sun a day and will prefer less windy, protected areas. You also want to have a flat level area to make sure you have adequate water drainage. Consider that you will need room to maneuver to work in your beds, and you may consider making them taller or wider so you can sit or don’t have to bend over so far. I am a big fan of square foot gardening so my beds are 3×4 and 3×6 feet which are easy to maintain.

Growing lettuce with square foot gardening

Decide on your MATERIALS. Beds can be made from a variety of materials like stone, brick, concrete, wood or metal. What you decide to use will be based on cost, how long you want your bed to last and ease of assembly. I made it easy for myself and bought galvanized metal beds off Amazon where all I had to do was screw them together. Here is a link for some different ideas on beds.

When you are ready to build your bed, PREP THE SPACE first. If you have grass, try to remove the sod, especially for aggressive grasses like bermuda. If you need to level the ground, do so now.

When building your bed, be sure to lay down a porous GROUNDCOVER like newspaper or cardboard. This will help prevent weeds but allow water drainage and roots to get through. Be sure to water it once laid down.

FILL THE BED with a mix of soil {50%} and compost {50%}. Add in minerals {I recommend one pound of this once yearly} and fertilizer {I recommend this product, 1 cup/square foot}. Rake everything in, soak it with water, and let it sit for a day or two.

How to Start a Fall Garden with Raised BedsNow you are ready to PLANT!

My Favorite Garden Resources

Fall is a wonderful time to begin a garden, and to especially get your kids involved! Popular vegetables and herbs to grow at this time include beans, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, carrots, squash, onions, garlic and parsley, among others. If you want some great resources to help you figure out what you’d like to try, I recommend the following::

Urban Harvest:: Local educational classes, events, online resources, farmers’ markets

Texas A&M Agrilife Extension:: Online resources like planting calendars, gardening guides

Epic Gardening:: great website, podcast, Instagram account for everything gardening

Year Round Vegetables, Fruits and Flowers for Metro Houston:: awesome local resource book by Dr. Bob Randall that is sold locally at places like Nature’s Way Resources in the Woodlands and Buchanan’s Nursery in the Heights

Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening:: great book with lots of tips for a healthy garden

The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible:: great book that has easy, basic tips to follow, especially for individual produce

Johnny’s Selected Seeds::great website for ordering seeds and transplants

How to Start a Fall Garden with Raised Beds
My 2 year old helping me water.


Happy gardening, ladies!

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Dani has spent the vast majority of her life in the greater Houston area, and there’s no place else she’d rather be! She loves all things Houston, from the culture, to the sports, to the FOOD {ohhhh, Tex-Mex}. After many years attending Texas A&M University {twice!} and the University of Texas Health Science Center Houston, she found her true calling practicing family medicine as a family nurse practitioner in north Spring. She absolutely loves building rewarding relationships with her patients and helping them live healthier lives in mind, body and spirit. When not at work, Dani is wife to her best friend and a fellow practitioner of medicine, Stu, and mom to two little spitfires, Emilia {2017} and Caroline {2019}. In her free time, Dani is an avid gardener and has a large passion for all things outdoors and healthy living. You can follow her on Instagram @summerskyegardens and check out her gardening YouTube page!


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