Sunday, June 12, 2016

Book Review & Giveaway: Raised Bed Revolution

If you think that a raised bed is nothing more than a simple rectangle made of wood, this is the book that will change your mind.

The revolution, that author Tara Nolan writes about in her new book, is a fresh and innovative approach to the design, materials and construction of raised beds.

Image by Proven Winners from Raised Bed Revolution  © Quarto Publishing Group 
and Tara Nolan 2016.  Used with permission of the author.

With a growing interest in homegrown vegetables and fruits, raised beds have become increasingly popular. They elevate the traditional backyard veggie patch and make it organized and neat. Raised beds can be used for more than just vegetables of course. Here is just a sampling of the great ideas presented in the book:

• Creating a raised bed where you park newly purchased perennials is a smart idea. Plants raised in nursery pots are quick to dry out even after you plant them. I found my success rate with new purchases increased exponentially when I placed the plants for a time in a raised holding bed where I could keep an eye on them and water them regularly. Then I wait until fall or the following spring to plant the more established plants in their final positions.

• A small raised bed is a great way to control an aggressive spreader like mint or oregano.

• Placing a cutting garden in a raised bed makes a garden that is utilitarian neat and tidy. Tara also suggests that adding flowers to your raised vegetable beds is a great way to attract beneficial insects and valuable pollinators.

 Photograph by Donna Griffith.  Image from Raised Bed Revolution  © Quarto Publishing Group 
and Tara Nolan 2016.  Used with permission of the author.

Growing herbs is yet another way to use a raised bed. There are a number of plans in the book, including this vertical herb planter, that allows you to grow herbs in close proximity to your kitchen.

• A raised bed can be used to create a garden pond. I love the mini bog garden project that uses a stock tank on wheels. The stock tank has an industrial vibe and the bog garden functions almost like a container planting. There is also a more traditional pond framed by a raised bed in the book. The ease in this type of pond design is the lack of digging required. Raising it up also makes it easier to access the pond's filter pump.

A raised bed that also serves as a cold frame.

A raised bed can help extend the growing season. A simple row cover can transform a raised bed into a mini-greenhouse that can really be useful in the chilly days of early spring. With a few modifications, it's easy to turn a raised bed into a cold frame that will allow you to grow cold weather crops into the winter.  

Photograph by Donna Griffith.  Image from Raised Bed Revolution  © Quarto Publishing Group 
and Tara Nolan 2016.  Used with permission of the author.

Raised beds have lots of advantages, which Tara details at length, but just to give you an idea, here are a few:

•  One of the beauties of raised beds is they allow you to garden in a small footprint.  The pole beans, in the picture above, are a beautiful example.

• The soil in raised beds thaws drains and warms up earlier than soil in the ground making it possible to get a head start on cool-weather crops like peas, lettuce and beets.

• Because you fill a raised beds with fresh, nutrient-rich soil, you can garden almost anywhere; on top of gravel, clay or poor soil, pavement and even rooftops.

• Raised beds make it easier for those gardeners who may have trouble bending over or kneeling down to plant and weed.

Photograph by Donna Griffith.  Image from Raised Bed Revolution  © Quarto Publishing Group 
and Tara Nolan 2016.  Used with permission of the author.

Included is lots of practical advice on choosing an appropriate site, as well as the size, height and spacing between your raised beds. Tara offers tips on types of wood to use, alternate materials, and what soil is appropriate for a raised bed.

The book aims to inspire readers with tons of ideas and easy-to-follow projects. The wide range of plans all have a picture of the finished project, as well as pictures of the step-by-step instructions.  A detailed drawing, list of materials, tools required, and a cut list make each item achievable by the average DIYer with basic carpentry skills.

I should also mention that as well as the raised beds, there are plans for various plant supports, an obelisk, a protected strawberry planter and a classic Versailles-inspired planter box.

Photograph by Tara Nolan. 

For those who aren't particularly handy with a hammer and a saw, Tara devotes an entire chapter to creative up-cycled materials and containers. I love this washbasin on top of an old sawhorse that Tara's Dad put together for her.

Photograph by Donna Griffith.  Image from Raised Bed Revolution  © Quarto Publishing Group 
and Tara Nolan 2016.  Used with permission of the author.

And here an attractive way to up-cycle plastic pails to grow veggies.

This is not a book that you need to read cover to cover just to get started. The information is well organized and presented. Chapters are subdivided making it easy to find a subject or an answer to a question you might have.

If you are interested in fun and creative garden projects, you are going to love this book!

I have a copy of Raised Bed Revolution to give away to one lucky reader. I will have to send these books through the mail, so I will have to limit entry to readers in Canada and the USA.

Please leave a comment if you would like to be included in the book draw. The draw will remain open for the next 7 days. If you are not a blogger, you can enter to win on the Three Dogs in a Garden Facebook page. Please make sure there is a way for me to track down your email address should your name be drawn.

About the author:

Tara Nolan is a freelance writer, editor and digital consultant. For over six years, Tara was web editor of Canadian She is a member of the Canadian Garden Writers Association and is co-founder of the blog Savvy Gardening. Tara has written for many publications including the Toronto Star, Glow magazine, Elle Canada and Canadian Living. Raised Bed Revolution is Tara's first gardening book.


  1. This sounds like a really wonderful book, Jennifer!
    I love that little ladder planter.
    I can see how one can get wonderfully creative with this.

  2. This book intrigues me and I would love to win a copy.

  3. Count me in! Would love it.

  4. Jennifer girl isn't it amazing how many different ways you can grow plants?
    I love the raised bed method ... the herbs in that ladder are perfect .. I have to keep that in mind now for next year maybe ?
    Looks like a great book ... wonderful review girl !
    Joy : )

  5. A raised pond? Intriguing! Might even thwart the raccoons!

    1. The raised pond uses a standard pre-formed plastic pond liner and a rectangular wood frame. The idea would come in handy for a property where there is underground cables, or in a place like mine, where the backyard is basically the septic bed. I am not sure it would thwart might just raise the underwater buffet...unless you had some sort of nighttime cover for the pond.

  6. Love the galvanized planters on wheels! Thanks for the chance to win!

  7. I would love to add this book to my growing library of gardening books :) Thank you!

  8. I just recently started to follow your blog and have enjoyed it thoroughly. This year I am growing more herbs and veggies in containers on my deck. There's so much yet to learn. I would love to have a chance to win a copy of the Raised Bed Revolution. I can be reached at

  9. Love your article.. I've been looking at different ideas as I get older.thanks for a chance to win

  10. Very useful and inspiring post Jennifer.

  11. Sounds like a great must have book to get, TARA. Thank you, Jimmy

  12. Wow, just the book I need - you must have read my mind!

  13. Love the focus you give to up-cycled materials and containers. Would love to read all c about it in your book. Kudos! Jodymurphy116 (at) gmail (dot) com

  14. I like the water trough gardens/ponds- we have one filled with succulents, one for bamboo and one with fish. Versatile!

  15. I think there are many good and different ideas here, certainly makes you think!

    All the best Jan

  16. Appreciate the chance to win in interesting book!

    Su (1936school@blogspot .com)

  17. Awesome book! I have been container gardening and want to know more about raised garden beds.

  18. I've just had some raised beds made so am looking forward to see how they turn out. This looks like an interesting


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