Q&A with Tara Nolan, Author of ‘Raised Bed Revolution’

By Shelley Pierce | February 12, 2017
Image by Tara Nolan
by Shelley Pierce
February 12, 2017

Tara Nolan is a freelance writer from the Toronto, Canada, area. Working as an editor and digital consultant, her publishing background is diverse. She’s worked everywhere from Yahoo! Canada to Canadian Home Workshop. For over six years, Tara was the web editor of CanadianGardening.com where she won a Canadian Online Publishing Award for the Seed to Supper newsletter. She is a member of the Garden Writers Association and a co-founder of Savvy Gardening. She loves to write about travel, gardening, decor, and health and fitness for print and online publications. If she’s not writing, you’ll find Tara in the garden, mountain biking, or handcrafting a new project.  Read on to learn about her latest book “Raised Bed Revolution” and enter below to win a copy from Quarto Publishing Group!

1. What exactly is the raised bed revolution and how do we join?

For me, Raised Bed Revolution represents the idea of gardens for everyone! Raised beds make gardening accessible to a wide range of aspiring and expert green thumbs, from new homeowners with their first yard, balcony or small patio, to those who may have trouble bending down and kneeling in the garden. And with so many people becoming interested in having a raised bed in their outdoor space, whatever its size, there are some pretty amazing, unique ideas out there! A raised bed can be placed virtually anywhere, provided you have six to eight hours of sunlight a day””and not just in a yard. So whether you build a raised bed from lumber or toss a few cement blocks together to outline a raised bed, you’re a part of the raised bed revolution! And I’d love to see what your readers have built””they can share photos on my Facebook page.

2. How does your book help us find raised bed inspiration?

I’ve tried to cover all aspects of raised beds, from project plans for raised beds that will work in big spaces””backyards, community gardens, etc.””to plans that will work in small spaces, like balconies, wee patios, etc. I also tried to provide lots of different types of projects for different skill levels. I have project plans that will appeal to both experienced and novice woodworkers, as well as a whole “Not Handy? No Problem!” chapter for those that may not have the tools, skills or space to build a more complex raised bed. There are also tons of inspirational photos that were provided by colleagues in the gardening world, as well as green thumbs I was introduced to throughout the writing process!

3. Your book presents many different ideas for raised beds. How do we decide which style of raised bed gardening is right for us?

Aesthetically speaking, the style is totally up to you, but the size will depend on the space you have. Also, if you have trouble kneeling or bending over, you may want to raise the bed up even higher. I offer a plan in the book with benches, which allows you to sit while weeding, planting, etc. A standard, rectangular raised bed that you would put in the yard would be about three to four feet wide by six to eight feet long and 10 to 12 inches high. But those measurements can all be modified to suit your space! Some of my raised beds are on wheels, while others have been fashioned from antique market finds.

4. What is one of the most creative and clever raised beds you have seen?

I love when old items have been upcycled or adapted to accommodate a raised bed. A lot of people are using old stock tanks, typically used to hydrate livestock. Savvy retailers have caught on and are creating that metal stock tank look without the bottom. I’ve also seen some innovative wooden raised beds. For example, when I visited the Keep It Simple Farm in Redmond, Washington, I saw the cutest raised bed on top of a chicken coop. And when I visited P. Allen Smith’s Moss Mountain Farm this past spring, I saw a raised bed in the shape of a pyramid built for strawberries that I’m itching to recreate. I’ve also seen some pretty neat rooftop setups. And one of my most popular projects from the book is a salad table I built from a small antique dining table. It’s gotten lots of attention on Savvy Gardening, the website I run with three other garden writers, as well as on Pinterest and a couple of other blogs.

5. What advice do you have for those people that are new to raised bed gardening?

Make sure your raised bed gets at least six to eight hours of sunlight a day, fill it with the best-quality soil and compost you can afford, and plant what appears most often on your grocery list! Also, don’t start with multiple big raised beds if you’ve never had a garden before. Start small, maybe building one, and work your way up so as not to become too overwhelmed!

6. Does your book offer raised bed solutions for those living in small urban spaces on up to those with sprawling landscapes?

Absolutely! I tried to provide options for a variety of spaces, from big backyards to patios, balconies, decks””or even your driveway! I also have a couple of vertical gardening solutions for readers who don’t have a lot of square footage, such as the tiered herb planter. An antique table was easily turned into a salad table, so I can walk out the back door and snip fresh lettuce on my deck. I provide a few growing tips, as well, for everything from growing garlic to attracting pollinators to your raised bed.

WIN A COPY OF “Raised Bed Revolution“!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight on Sunday, February 19, 2017 (be sure to provide a valid e-mail address) in answer to the following question:

Why do you want to join the raised bed revolution?

Be sure to include a valid e-mail address. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualified entrants, and notified via e-mail. (See rules for more information.)

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  • Jenny Travis
    Comment added May 20, 2020Reply

    You also need to be careful what materials you use for the construction- some wood preservative is very toxic to use near veg. https://www.ramsburyraven.com/life/home_and_garden/diy-raised-garden-beds/

  • Tracy A Benson
    Comment added April 7, 2017Reply

    Your items are great for places with minimal amount of space or anywheres to be exact. Beautiful designs.

  • Samantha pendergrass
    Comment added February 15, 2017Reply

    Love it!

  • patricia skinner
    Comment added February 14, 2017Reply

    I have two raised beds for my tomatoes. The tomatoes grow wonderfully. I need to make a salad table for lettuce and spinach.

  • patricia skinner
    Comment added February 14, 2017Reply

    We have two raised beds for tomatoes and our tomatoes always do wonderfully. I need to do a salad table for lettuce and spinach.

  • Elizabeth
    Comment added February 13, 2017Reply

    I've been growing wildflowers in my current gardens. I want to add some raised veggie gardens!

  • Melissa
    Comment added February 13, 2017Reply

    I want my kids to be connected with their food and where it comes from.

  • Eduart Duka
    Comment added February 12, 2017Reply

    Joining the revolution this spring.

  • Anne
    Comment added February 12, 2017Reply

    A raised bed is the best way to create sunny garden space close to my house by building the beds into a sloped area. All of our flat spaces are heavily shaded by large trees and the raised bed also permits gardening with less bending as my husband and I get older!

  • Miguel Böhmer
    Comment added February 12, 2017Reply

    The "raised bed" is an ideal solution to define and structure some areas in my garden.

  • chester marx
    Comment added February 12, 2017Reply

    As I mature, I realize to continue to garden a raised garden will be a "must".

  • Sarah Hinman
    Comment added February 12, 2017Reply

    Love it. Can't wait to have one for Spring planting!

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