Raised Bed Gardening in a Swamp


How to overcome obstacles when gardening in a swamp.

When I tell people we live in a swamp they look back with a sense of wonder, “why would anyone live in such a place?”

I would admit that low land does come with a set of challenges and a few unexpected surprises. This property has become my favorite place forcing me to think outside the box. 

I have had to take my gardening experience and ideas to the next level.  Or as we say in our home, level up.  If you follow my Instagram stories, then you have noticed I am always moving dirt. 

Some have asked, “what about a tractor?” That would be nice, but we are not extravagant people, so I normally respond, “maybe one day.”  The additional labor from using a shovel and wheelbarrow keeps us fit and healthy.  At the end of the day there is a sense of gratitude.  

My grandmother used to say, “Rome wasn’t built in day.”  I remember her puttering in the garden day after day.  Moving dirt, plants and making everything her little bounty of goodness.  She set the example to care for God's blessings. 

So, while I am still young and have the ambition I will continue to work hard, find solutions and make improvements so that gardening in a swamp becomes a bounty of goodness.

So far things are shaping up.

a series of things that I have learned gardening in the swamp using raised beds.

Starting with Raised Beds

Last fall we started our garden by building up the ground and adding raised beds.  Then I rearranged these same beds and continued adding dirt because I did not want to garden on a slope.

That was an excellent idea and as I continued to move dirt additional raised beds were added.  This project is a labor of love and a year from now this space will have more of an established appeal.  

I had to embrace our environment and quickly decide if I was going to grow a thriving garden, the ground had to be higher. 

We get a lot of rain, especially this year.  We also experience a lot of humidity and almost every morning we have moisture. Which means the ground and plants are always wet.

We also have the occasional snake, thousands of toads, lots of crawdads, dragon flies galore and every kind of buzzing bee known to man.  The honeybees are bountiful which is specular.

There is also an assortment of butterflies, spiders and I have finally seen worms.  Just his morning there was a crane off the pond hunting for food.  

By selecting a raised bed garden, I can run interference with a lot of these obstacles and allow the positive creatures a place to visit so they can do their thing.  We have what I call a natural echo system and it is amazing.

But like I mentioned we have had a lot of rain this year, so the garden has been slow to grow.  Very slow, but after a couple months things are looking up and offering some hope.

turning obstacles into possibilities in the garden.

What I have Learned

What I have learned about gardening in a swamp is that I will stay away from starting seeds indoors.  Direct seed has proven to be the best option even if it means I begin later in the season.

At first, I felt defeated but after a few heavy rains I sort of thought, “don’t sweat it” we have a long growing season so worst-case scenario I replant for fall.

This attitude has forced me to relax, have patience and enjoy the journey more than ever. I also reminded myself that it takes soil a good 3 to 5 years to perform.  The exception would be if you are buying already prepped soil from a nursery.

Since I am not doing that, I have had to "chill out" and now that we have a "dog" direct composting is not an option.  I was going to fence off the garden, but I love the open space, so I built a compost bin.

I will share that project and my thoughts next month.  

Anyone reading this from my retired blog, Garden Up Green knows that I always implemented direct composting. That was something I learned from my grandmother and it's a simple yet amazing tip.

I am hopeful this bin will be a benefit because I really do not want a garden fence.  I will share that project soon because I am optimistic and toying with including this project in my new book.  

This bin and many others would be helpful; that new book comes out in 2025.  I am on the writing homestretch of Garden Up Green.  I just started the last and longest chapter where all of my DIY projects unfold.

A ridiculous number of original projects so I decided to break them down into three categories, Garden Basics, Garden Additions and Garden Flair.  Some overlap which means the most popular will be published.  

Even at that it is still a lengthy chapter, so I am giving myself the entire summer to write it.  Which means come September 1st it will be ready for editing.

Talk about a labor of love, this has become the largest, writing project I have ever taken on.  I'm in the mix of telling a story that brings forward the simple side of gardening loaded with information.

Here is your takeaway, do not let your climate determine your success.  Sometimes all you must do is think outside the box and take your ideas to the next level.  Gardening in the swamp has taught me to level up. 

See the good,
Carole West

gardening in the swamp.

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