Introduction: Building a Raised Garden: the Mator Patch

In this Instructable I will show you how I built a raised garden with minimal cost and created a nice landscape at he same time.

You are more than welcome to post suggestions for improvements or other ways that I could have gone with this project, actually i encourage it.

Thanks for looking

Step 1: Location, Location, Location

I had this corner of the yard that was mess since I had bought the house. I got really tired of seeing it but didn't know what to do with it. I had planted a tree in it but the dog kept digging in the dirt and finally it had started to make it then we had a frost that killed it.

So here was my dilemma. I needed to do something with that back corner but it also had a pile of dirt and rock in the area. the previous owners had laid concrete and piled the excess dirt in the corner and throughout the yard.

As you will see in the pictures I have some crazy pumpkin plants all over the yard. The kids planted the pumpkin seeds from the previous Halloween’s pumpkin carving. What do you know they grew and grew, but alas no pumpkins. We didn't have any bees to pollinate the flowers and manual pollination wasn't working either. So the lawn mower came out and finished them off.

Once again inspiration struck me, that and www.gardenerschoice.com had some huge tomato plants they were selling at great prices. So here it was a place to raise some "Mators". It has to look nice though.

The previous owners had already put a small raised area lining the back wall of the yard and my wife decided that we should go with the same castle stones they used, naturally I agreed.

Time to plan and gather materials.

Step 2: Materails and Tools

Materails list
27 Castle stones (Lowes)
1 bag of Omni brand compost (Made localy)
2 bags of Steer manure (Made localy also)
7 Monster Tomato plants (gardenerschoice.com)
2 Tomato Trees (gardenerschoice.com)
4 Black garbage bags

Tools list
1 Spade shovel
1 Flat shovel
1 Pair of gloves
1 Bucket
1 Group of kids

Step 3: Dirt Displacement

Dirt Displacement fancy terms for shoveling dirt.
First thing I needed to do was move some dirt and filter out the river rock.

Basically all I did was shovel dirt to the opposite side. Then I paid the kids to come out and pick ut the river rocks, man was there a lot of rocks. There was enough here that I didn't have to buy any more rock for the project.

Step 4: Rock Step- Sorry It's Not a Fancy Dance Move.

After the dirt was moved and filtered I put the castle stones down.

At this point I begain filling the raised aread with the filtered dirt I also began mixing in my steer manuare. After the manuare was mixed in next I threw in some "Omni" compost.

The manuare needs a couple weeks in the dirt to settle in, straight manuare would just burn the plants up. It doesn't take long in the heat in Arizona to cook the ground for me.

I used black plastic yard backs as my liner to keep the weeds from growing through the rocks. Some people use it in their garden bu I didn't use any becaseu the ground is quite warm enough.

Then I laid the river rocks that were filtered from the dirt and started laying my walking area.

Step 5: Final Step Before Planting.

Here is the final step before we put plants in the ground.

I had to have a drain flow area should we get heavy rains during the Monsoons, we didn't, but I needed to be ready and have a path for the water to flow anyway. So I created a small follow through area with the river rock right through the garden wall. The water actually flows under the castle stones and out to the drain. Some of the castle stones are positioned directly on top of the river rock. This way water still flows around the river rock under the castle stones and out the drain. See the other picture for the completed look.

Step 6: The Plants

Time for some plants.

I ordered muy plants trhough the internet from Gardeners Choice They have what seems to be some outraguos claims that I thought I would put to the test.

Well they certainly grow, and would have grown better if not for the intense heat this year. I have been able kept them alive since May 2007, but they hvae grown like crazy. Now they are more like giant bushes gone wild. But not to many Mators have come off these plants, its the heat again. The tomatos we have gotten off of them taste pretty darn good.

Now that it is cooling off we will see how the mators do, I already have new babies.

Step 7: The Plants Are Coming Along

Here is some plant growth.

Pic 1 the plants are growing.

Pic 2 getting bigger

Pic 3 bigger still

Pic 4 BIGGER

Pic 5 getting some shade

Pic 6 some more shade

I will add some new pictures because I need some help to design a simple fence to hld the plants up. you will see what I mean when I post those pics.

Step 8: State of the Plants on 20 Sept 2007

Here are the most current pics as of 20 Sept 2007'

I am embarassed about them, but I didn't know the plant would grow this big. Plus I have also kind of neglected them, it was just to hot to get out there. All I could do was water, water, water and get back in the house.

So if you have suggestions about how to build a cheap support system or wahtever you can think of please let me know.

I do have plans on cooling the plants off next summer, I have another Instructable in mind for that.

Thanks for taking the time to read and provide any suggestions.

Step 9: State of the Plants on 11 Oct 2007

It is the 11th of October 2007.

The plants are now 9 months old and still growing strong.

I built a tall trellis out of an old patio umbrella and it came out looking pretty good and is working great. I built it about 2 weeks ago and now that the weather has cooled off I am getting more blooms and the plants have covered the trellis. Lets see if I get some tomatoes in the next couple of weeks.

Take a look at the newest pics below.

Step 10: Update 17 OCT 2007

The dogs got in to the garden again! Dig dig dig and then lay down in it.
The toamto plants have already out grown the trellis the i put up a week ago now I have to build it bigger. The plants are over 6 ft tall now they are growing like crazy!

Good news FINALLY I have some Red bell peppers growing! FINALLY!

I'll add pics soon.

Comments

author
ElvenChild made it! (author)2011-05-21

witch the red pepper and tomato plants the dogs wouldn't dear go back there again

author
Ace Fix it made it! (author)2010-05-25

My dog has destroyed everything I've planted over the past 5 years of owning a house.  it has been very frustrating.

author
scafool made it! (author)2008-12-29

I read your other instructables on this garden corner and a couple of thoughts came to mind. comment to step 1: Halloween pumpkins are almost all hybrid varieties. They might be able to produce vines but they can't produce seed so you get no pumpkins. comment on tomatoes: High levels of nitrogen push them to produce leaves instead of fruit. Potatoes do the same thing. Fruit likes potash and phospate. (Potatoes are the same way.) Usually excess nitrates wash out with rain or gas off after a year, but high nitrate fertizer is for grasses, like lawns, hay or corn. If it is extremely hot tomatoes sometimes have a problem pollinating themselves too. As you have noted in a comment, tomato pollen changes once the temperature gets to over 90 degrees, and the normal temperature for the flowers to be fertile is between 75 and 85 degrees. If you had high temperatures and more nitrogen than needed you might expect a lot of blossoms to drop instead of setting fruit. Just a couple of thoughts you might like to check out.

author
LucyBelle made it! (author)2008-07-01

Mr Rig-it, you don't want to grow peppers with tomatoes. they are not good companion plants. also for a support structure, always use your imagination and whatever you have on hand. experiment !

author
Mr. Rig It made it! (author)Mr. Rig It2008-07-01

The bell pepper wern't planted with the tomatoes, they were in a seperate planter. But thank you for the info I didn't know that.

See my other instructable for an update to see what I have growing now. I hve already harvested some. click here

author
zoe_roses made it! (author)2008-04-18

If you have problems with tomatoes not ripening, you might be watering to much. red tomatoes are when the plants go to seed. they only go to seed if the watering is spratic, so water deeply, but less often. this will help the tomatoes to ripen.

author
Mr. Rig It made it! (author)Mr. Rig It2008-04-18

Ahh... that sounds like good advice. I hadn't heard that before. I wil try that this time. Thank you!

author
blizz86 made it! (author)2008-03-27

lol yes your tomato stands ARE upside down.. i know that the heat in CA and AR arent really similar but i know its both HOT. but did your tomatoes end up ripening really small (so its like cherry tomatoes) and the random 2-3 regular sized tomatoes?

author
Mr. Rig It made it! (author)Mr. Rig It2008-03-27

yeah the stands are upside down I was trying something that didn't work out that well.
As far as the tomatos I had one or two small ones (cherry tomoates size) that my son found and promptly ate. Other than that I had a lot of good size tomatos they just didn't turn red. Even after I pulled them off the vine they would go bad before they turned red. I think it was just that particular hybrid type.
You can see the updated version of my garden with the new fence in my lastest instructable The Doggy Retreat Go to the last step and check out the pics.

The fence itself is another instructable I am working on. I am almost finsihed just need to paint it, then I can publish it.

author
blizz86 made it! (author)blizz862008-03-28

hmm lol :D but yeah all mine ripened correctly.. they were really sweet too ! thanks for the reply

author
Ibanezfoo made it! (author)2007-09-19

Your cages are upside down :)

author
Mr. Rig It made it! (author)Mr. Rig It2007-09-19

Your right they are. I was trying some alternative thinking. The plants kept knocking the cages over with their weight, so I decided to flip them upside down and drive the rods in the ground for more support. It worked for a while but the plants out grew them, really out grew them! I ended up having to literally cut the cages out from the plans. They cages were really to small to start with. I will go out and take a pic today and repost it. If you have any ideas on how to restrain these things after i post the pic please tell me, I could use the advice with this one.

author
Granny_Leah made it! (author)Granny_Leah2008-03-01

If you want neater plants, buy a bush variety - you had indeterminate ones. They just keep on growing!
You need to fence your puppies out of the garden. Do they have anywhere else to dig?

author
Mr. Rig It made it! (author)Mr. Rig It2008-03-27

Thank you for the infor on what type of plants they were. Ihad no idea there were types like that. I have reworked the garden and made a 2ft lattice fence this one will keep the dogs out and I have provided the dogs with thier own space. I made an instructable on on both the fence and the doggy space. Look for them soon.

author
eatsalot made it! (author)eatsalot2008-03-27

it might be easier just to build some little "ladders" out of wood and have them grow up that or you can put 2 2x4's in the ground and run some twine across the 2 and add more string as they get taller

author
Mr. Rig It made it! (author)Mr. Rig It2008-03-27

Thanks for the info. Those plants are all gone. I have now built a 2 foot lattice fence and have planted, bell peppers and Anaheim Peppers.

author
koiwings made it! (author)2008-01-16

I have used cages built from concrete reinforcing mesh for several years and my Dad used them several years before that. They are about 6 ft tall and hold the plants very well, I occasionally have to reroute a branch or use some flexible plastic tape for support. Determinate and Indeterminate Tomato plants will help dictate how tall the plants will grow. HTH

author
Mr. Rig It made it! (author)Mr. Rig It2008-02-16

That is a great idea! I remember for next time. My plants ended up growing 12 ft tall, (no kidding). I couldn't build a fence tall enough to hold them so I slung them over the wall :-). The darn things got to big and my dogs kept getting in there and digging and kill almost every thing I have. I pulled up the rest of the tomato plants and only have the bell peppers left. So I have a big area now for the dogs to dig in :-( for now anyway. Thanks for the comments.

author
writerlady made it! (author)writerlady2008-03-08

tomato plants will produce nothing but leaves if you don't prune or pinch them back. you want to force them to produce fruit instead of leaves. Great Instructable, good pictures.

author
Mr. Rig It made it! (author)Mr. Rig It2008-03-22

Thank you for your comments. The instructions with these plants said not to pinch them back. It was just to darn hot here in AZ for them to pollinate. Just as soon as it cooled down in the fall I had all kinds of tomatoes. The problem was the would not turn red. I left some on the vines for months, literally, and they would not change color. Even after i picked some they would go bad before they changed color. They were hybrids though. I bought a new tomato plant the other day from Home Depot I am betting it will do well when I plant it. I ahve to rebuild the garden area, the dogs dugg it up. After 12 months I had 3 plants still living with vines up to 12 ft long. I got sick of them so I pulled them out and let the dogs have the garden for the winter. Now I am rebuilding everything and I am in the middle of building a better fence to keep the dogs out.

author
ikaruseijin made it! (author)ikaruseijin2008-02-16

My grandfather did exactly the same thing! Concrete reinforcing wire about 5 feet tall, 3 feet diameter. Bury the bottom row of reinforcing grid, then you drive 2 (2"x2" 4 foot tall) stakes into the ground at the perimeter of the cage and tie them up nice and tight. The tomato plants can't knock it over no matter how big and cranky they get. I inherited the cages and I stacked two of them the one time I had a mutant radioactive cherry tomato that grew to 9 feet tall. Worked like a charm.

author
quickthinker made it! (author)2007-10-10

i think you need to prune them down, or something.

But nonetheless, awesome job with the garden. For the life of me, i dont think i'm capable in plotting anything related to plants and flowers

author
Mr. Rig It made it! (author)Mr. Rig It2007-10-11

Thank you for your comments. I ended up building a trellis for the plants to grow on. Actually they now seem to be outgrowing it. I added a new step at the end as an update it has some pictures of them now. They look a lot better. Thanks again

author
kirnex made it! (author)2007-09-21

Great instructable. Your raised bed turned out beautifully, and I love your pictures. I bet your yard looked great this summer.

Just a quick question about the company you bought from (Gardener's Choice). How was their service? Were you happy with your purchase(s), in hindsight? Any info you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

author
Mr. Rig It made it! (author)Mr. Rig It2007-09-21

Kirnex,
Thank you. The raised garden looked pretty good when the plants were younger, once they got big, well... you can see for yourself in the last step pictures.

Gardenerschoice.com left a lot to be desired. While their prices are a really good, their packaging is severely lacking. They sent me a dead twig of a tree, but promptly refunded it. They also refunded for some other plants that died/cooked in the mailbox.

The plants that are alive grew almost as they said they would. I have only gotten one decent size tomato from any of my plants, but I am sure it's due to the heat. I have a few babies already since the weather has cooled down. We'll see what happens.

I did find a place that packages their tomato plants very well Selected Plants.com their webpage is nothing fancy but they seem to know what they are talking about.

Check out the ordering page for an example of how they package their plants.

Thanks again.

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