Building Interesting Garden Boxes

alt I live in Utah. Specifically, zone 6-ish, or 0–5 degrees Fahrenheit.

One of my top priorities after moving into my house was to create a garden. The soil around my house is not ideal for gardening. It is a heavy clay and very sticky when wet. I decided to create some nice containers and try my hand at some version of square foot gardening. I wanted a nice space for my garden. I also wanted it to be asthetically pleasing. The garden box design I settled on can be seen above.

I wanted enough room to plant your standard vegetables that will grow in a garden in Utah, but also wanted to have enough room to play around a little. In addition, I wanted blackberries and raspberries. I wanted enough room to grown anything in sufficient quantities to make good use of the vegetables. For example, if one year I decided I wanted salsa and spaghetti sauce at the end of the season, I needed enough tomatoes, garlic, onions, peppers, et cetera, to make what I wanted. To sum it up, I wanted a big garden.

The Results

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First of all, this is a pretty crappy photo. Turns out, it is the best one I have of the actual garden. Some of the boxes need painted. You will have to paint them or stain them to keep them looking nice. Most of the boxes are 6 inches deep with a couple of exceptions. The garden box in the center is 12 inches deep (that is 3.048 x 10^-4 km for the metric mind). This is the one that I use for carrots, potatoes, beets, things that require a bit deeper material in which to grow. There is also one 8′ x 3′ rectangular box that is 8″ deep. I built this one a year or two after the original boxes and wanted it to be a little deeper. The 6″ boxes work just as well as the 8″ box.

I tried blueberries in one and failed. In another 8′ x 4′ box I have raspberries and blackberries. They do well.

So what can I plant in there?

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On a typical year I will plant:

4-6 tomato plants (last year I got about 100 pounds of tomatoes off of 6 tomato plants)
About 100 onions
16 square feet of peas
4 square feet of radishes
16 square feet of beans
some soy beans
2 cucumber plants (I am the only person in my house that will eat them)
Spinach (as much as I think I can eat before it gets too hot for spinach)
Lettuce  (as much as I think I can eat before it gets too hot for lettuce)
Pumpkins
Zucchini
Yellow Squash
Basil
Cilantro
Garlic
Carrots
Wild Flowers


Sometimes I will plant:
Potatoes
Beets
Kohlrabi
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Brussels Sprouts
Melon
Cabbage
Mustard Greens
Kale
Swiss Chard
Corn
Watermelon

What I Get

As mentioned above, I got about 100 pounds (or about 100.01 to 100.11 × FIFA soccer ball mass for the metric mind) of tomatoes last year. I had enough onions to use in all the recipes that required onions. I get more radishes than I can eat (I am the only one in my family that will eat them). I get more cucumbers than I can eat, enough basil to satisfy every recipe that calls for it, a few pumpkins for the the kids to carve, enough lettuce for a salad every night for 2 people (until it gets too hot for lettuce) and enough carrots to make me turn orange. Suffice it to say, I am never left wanting of whatever vegetable I am growing. I usually get sick of eating it before I run out.

That is just eating fresh. If I want to store things at the end of the season, I have to make adjustments and plan to have extra. That is what I did with tomatoes. I made tomato basil soup, and spaghetti sauce and canned it. And it was fantastic.