Pacita Wilson, Pineapple Park & Erin Thompson, Growin’ South
Raised beds make gardening as simple as possible, the 'no work' kind. Growin' South's raised beds make outdoor spaces extra beautiful and inviting, which I knew my clients would love. As a self-taught gardener, Erin Thompson started Growin’ South to help others learn to grow her thriving kitchen gardens with minimal effort. With her signature raised beds growing to fame in the Southeast, Erin shares expert tips on growing herbs, lettuce, and vegetables to yield gorgeous, bountiful harvests. If you’re new to the gardening world, a “raised bed” is a large structure made of wood, metal, or plastic that sits directly on top of the ground.
Erin highlights the foundational pillars of starting a garden. Her number one tip is to put your garden where you will see it all the time. Nothing gets better unattended, as she says. Secondly, you need to ensure your garden receives at least six hours of sunlight every day. It's time to talk about water - a garden needs a lot. Place your garden near a water source to save time.
Erin is a self-proclaimed lazy gardener, making this a necessity for success! Getting a raised container is the final foundation step for your soon-to-be new love of gardening. When choosing your container, ensure it is big enough, and you can put in 12-18” of soil. For DIY, Growin’ South custom builds containers for clients and delivers along with soil and plants for clients to install their gardens themselves; or you can always purchase from them directly or Home Depot.
A number of advantages can be gained from raised soil beds, including easier access, greater control over soil composition, better drainage, and a warmer soil temperature for earlier planting and faster growth. Particularly in the South, a properly prepared raised bed allows plant roots to breathe. Less weeding and maintenance are always a plus too! If anyone has tried to dig in the Georgia red clay, they know it is nature’s cement.
Erin Thompson says, “all you need is a 4x4 space to grow food - functional and beautiful simultaneously. And the best thing you can put in your garden is your shadow.” Discover your planting zone before deciding what to plant. In Georgia, we are lucky to be in zone 7B with a year-round growing season. Erin has provided an exclusive planting design plan for Pineapple Park clients, and we have included it below.
Let’s start with a few master gardening secrets about two key elements, watering, and soil. Water your plant at its base, supplying water to the roots, not over the top. In fact, you want to keep the green leaves of the plant as dry as possible. Wet foliage makes the plant more susceptible to diseases and insects. By watering in the morning, the soil has time to absorb the water before it evaporates in the day's heat. When you water in the evening, plants sit in the water all night, opening them up to mold, mildew, and diseases providing a breeding ground for pests. Watering anytime is better than not watering at all.
Incorporating flowers in your herb and vegetable garden make it gorgeous and can be beneficial to your plants. Erin has provided a chart for companion planting that keep insects away and help the entire bed thrive. Erin emphasizes enough how much of a game-changer raised bed gardening is! It eliminates 90% of the hard work and makes it much more fun. Don’t go another season missing the garden you’ve always dreamed of.
Ready, Set, Plant!