How To Make Raised Beds for Gardening with John Kohler : The Renegade Health Show Episode #610

Monday Jul 12 | BY |
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John Kohler is a super-gardener…

If you ever have a chance to visit his house, you’ll see how committed he is to growing incredible, nutrient rich foods.

He’s also a stickler for detail and his art of gardening.

Today, he talks about how to make raised beds for your garden.

Check it out…

Your question of the day: Do you have a garden?

Click here, scroll down to the bottom of the page and leave your comments now!

John hosts an amazing health event in Northern California that is coming up…

The Raw Health Expo is from July 31st to August 1st and is in Sebastopol, CA. To find out more and to attend (the price is super-reasonable… I think to little actually!) click here…

Live Awesome!

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.


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  1. Debbra says:

    Hey! We have three raised beds. Two are 4×8 and 12″ deep and one is 3×8, also 12″ deep. We are going to do more. Those mentioned above are built like John’s but I have plans to build one like Mimi Kirk did which is waist high. We are also going to make some great use out of the side of our house – a narrow space between the fence and house and make a very long and narrow bed to grow mostly veges that trellis and probably some corn too. Some sunflowers for fun. 😀

  2. David Barriga says:

    Hola, John and Kevin, Good show, I prefer soil/mulch gardening. soil can be analized for ph level/micro nutritents.
    Have to convert to raised gardening, due to disability. BUT, bottom line: we raised our own fruits/veggies—full nutritents/clean food, WE are what we eat.

  3. cid says:

    Yes have one every year….Grow the best watermelons one could ever taste.
    Can & freeze a bunch and give allot away. Had a truck farm many years ago……Sold to individuals, local stores. & ones that hauled it to other places to sell. Seemed at that time we were the only ones that that could grow okra here, or were willing to grow it.

  4. Sarah says:

    I planted my very first garden this year and boy did I learn a lot!! I did raised beds but I did not add good compost or rock dust. My soil ended up being terrible- very sandy. My garden is growing but very slowly and I have lost many plants. Next time I will pay much closer attention to the quality of my soil. I have been using the Ocean’s Solution and that may be why anything is growing at all. But you still need that good quality soil to begin with. Like I said, it has been a learning experience. But that means my next garden will be fantastic. I love being able to grow my own food. There is such a satisfaction with gardening.

  5. Mary says:

    Getting started on raised beds is expensive, with buying the sides and then filling with compost. Where would you get rock dust anyway and is there a brand or something to look for in it? How much is recommended? I have grow containers and had a garden where i used to live, but here is sand, so I NEED a raised bed.

  6. Karen says:

    I grow at least tomatoes and a few other things every year. I need to learn more though and would like to have raised beds like John. I’ll be doing that sometime in the future. One thing that causes me concern are the critters – squirrels, cats, tree rats – they get into things and we have to share a lot with them. I really love any gardening shows.

  7. What a wonderful gift you keep bringing. Great information and a whole new site to explore. We have 8 raised beds and this info has been great. Lots and lots of greens and much more this year. Thanks so much!

  8. Jan says:

    Love to garden and I highly recommend the book he refered to “All New Square Foot Gardening” by Mel Bartholomew for someone new to gardening or for someone who wants to garden but dislikes pulling weeds, plowing, & tilling. I have many fruit trees and strawberries plus my lettuce, onions, carrots, turnips, and much more.

    Mel Bartholomew also has a cookbook titled All New Square Foot Gardening Cookbook which is nice if you have children. He has a section called Kid’s Corner, he gives tips on how to store, signs when each crop is ready to pick and when it is too late, when to harvest, as well as companion planting. This book is much more than just a cookbook. Most of the recpies are cooked some are raw. It is much healthier than SAD diet.

  9. Stehpanie says:

    not yet… but next month we are finished our duplex remodel and i hope to put in at least a couple raised beds so we don’t miss the fall growing season in texas. YEE HAW!

  10. Maria Matos says:

    Kevin, Thank you soooo much for this video. You guys must of read my mind. I was looking for info. on how to built raised beds. I did start a small garden this year on my deck, with plant pots. They grew very well. Some tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers,etc. Very happy with the outcome. Next year want to do the raised beds. Thank you both for the great info. you share with the world.

  11. Angie says:

    YES! I love it! Plants growing here now: strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, peas, red potatoes, anaheim chiles, basil, onions, beets, carrots, cilantro, broccoli, tomatillos, acorn squash, raspberries, blackberries, two kinds of apples, and grapes (which really just hang over from the neighbors’ yards, but they share). Did I mention I love it?! 🙂

    In light of your recent experience in South America, it cracked me up when he said that if you just eat potatoes all the time you’ll be missing nutrients…


  13. Sharon says:

    No garden:-(

    Just wanted to comment to make sure your wood is free of arsenic which is a common wood preservative. Your organic garden can turn into a major health nightmare if you accidentally use treated wood. Heard a doctor talking about two of her patients. The kids were really sick and it turned out to be arsenic poisoning from the well-intentioned “organic” garden.

  14. Diane says:

    Live on a channel leading to a huge lake. Took out 4 big bushes to make a garden along sea wall. Two tier, I have tomatoes and peppers on the lower tier with greens in about half. Top tier are herbs, green beans, teas etc. I have worked ground for about 4 years to make it organic. Love the summer and all the fresh vegetables.

  15. Christine says:

    I try to plant things that don’t need too much attention, such as papaya, pumpkins, cucumbers and bananas. I enjoy planting them. When harvest time comes I feel proud to share with my neighbors

  16. Sophia says:

    I love gardening! It’s easy to turn your friends on to gardening by helping them set one up. 🙂 I have three raised beds that are only 6 inches high. I have all different kinds of tomatoes growing (purple, pink, yellow, red), tomatillos, peppers, arugula, strawberries, herbs, Hopi, yellow, and butternut squash, and sunflowers.

    I also have a native plant garden that has bee balm, bee plant, anise hyssop, coyote mint, and much more. The native plant garden helps promote biodiversity and the declining bee population, because the main problem is that they don’t have their native plants. So if everyone plants a native plant then the bees would be very happy! 🙂

  17. Mike says:

    Yes, I just bought Mel Bartholomew’s book, the “All new Square Foot Gardening”. Just as Jan said, highly recommended. This is the kind of gardening everyone should try. Even for people without a yard.

  18. Isabelle says:

    Hi Kevin, this has nothing to do with gardening but I want to share this with absolutely everyone:

    I think EVERYONE needs to know about the Aircar. It has been around for several yrs as a prototype – they had one at the 2009 Geneva Car show & it looks like a lot of progress has been made since then. I was just thinking that with your huge audience maybe you could pass the word that this is the ONLY way of the future. In particular now since the Gulf devastation, we simply can’t reply on fuel powered vehicles any more.

    Thanks for a great website & your fantastic initiative of getting out terrific health and raw food info out to the world!

    Forgive me but I think this info is just too big not to share…..

    Love you both

  19. LuAnn Agustin says:

    We have a small organic garden that I really do have to give my husband the credit for. Currently, he is harvesting loads of different varieties of tomatoes, zuchinni, cukes, strawberries, squashes, bell peppers, basil, parsley, different lettuces and greens. Our avocados and bananas aren’t fruiting yet but I am eagerly looking forward to that day… 🙂

  20. Michael T. says:

    Yes, we have a garden, and in Hawaii we grow things year round. Summer is cooler and rainy, so it is mostly greens. Tomatoes and squash do better during the dry winter months. Raised beds are usually done with rock borders, since wood rots so quickly in the tropics. And there is no shortage of rocks here on this volcanic island.

    There are lots of bugs here, however, so it is tough to grow some items such as cucumbers, large tomatoes or peppers. By the time the fruits ripen, they may be full of fruit fly worms. So these crops are typically grown in greenhouses.

    Thanks for the show, I love to see people’s gardening ideas.

  21. Moira says:

    Yes! I have a garden for the first time this year. Did raised beds, two 4 x 4’s. I had tilled the ground adding rock dust and coffee grounds as well as mulch and then decided to do the raised beds with a base of newspaper, straw, Bumpercrop manure, and some mulch-type dirt. My friend’s garden (she used Miracle Grow) was planted prior to mine and doing much better than mine for quite a while. Then mine went crazy! with growing and I am thinking the roots hit rock dust since my beds are not terribly deep and have a lot of straw in the layers. Whatever gave it the impetus to grow, I am SO happy as I have lots of tomatoes, collard greens, peppers, greens, watermelon, crenshaw melons, one bean plant survived, and several types of cucumbers and it is exciting to watch everything grow! I have OceanGrown, but have been hesitant to use it. Has anyone else in addition the one person above used it? Is anyone using chlorine-free water to protect the microorganisms? Thanks for a great and motivating show today.

  22. Dana says:

    Yes, I just bought the Square Foot gardening book this year. I did 2- 4’x4′ boxes. I followed the planting design that Mel describes in the book. You can really fit alot into a small space. So far I’ve had about 50% success. Not sure exactly what happpened but that’s OK, I’m excited about the things that did grow. I have been harvesting lettuce, chard, kale and parsley to use in my green smoothies. It’s so satisfying to walk out to the garden in the morning, pick the greens, make my smoothie and drink it. I have tomatoes, brussel sprouts, peppers and squash that are doing well, can’t wait to harvest. I agree with John, just do something. Even if it’s just herbs in a pot, it will bring joy.

    Best of luck to everyone!

  23. Veronika says:

    I love John Kohler’s videos! Seeing him in his Hawaiian shirts brightens my day, lol. I’ll definitely look into the Raw Health Expo. Great choice for an interview, and I hope you interview him again in the future!

    We do container gardening on our apartment balconies and have been successful so far: cherry tomatoes, lemon tree, blueberry bush, strawberries…and we’re working on planting more. I think Ocean Grown is making our strawberry plants grow like crazy. We’re also using compost. We planted an Everbearing variety, which isn’t supposed to produce many runners, but ours is growing 2-3 on each plant, and even the runners are growing runners! So we got 12 new baby plants in the last couple months.

    I have the same question as someone above – where do you recommend getting rock dust? I looked online and there are a few websites that sell it, but I’m not sure if all rock dust is created equal, or whether we should get a certain kind.

  24. Currently in New Zealand and traveling the world we don’t have a garden. But when we did have a house, we had a garden. We miss it while traveling, but plan to have a big garden whenever/wherever we ultimately land.


    Great info Kevin!


    Jonathan <– Currently in New Zealand

  25. Ivy says:

    It’s true that before I ate raw, I was always cooking food and had no idea about going raw until far later.

    I grow my garden in a community plot, they are getting popular. People ask how to find one, and I always say to call your community centers and ask. Ask around for word-of-mouth community areas. In my 15x15ft plot I raise it with 2 yards of compost after sheet mulching in the spring, then two weeks later, one tilling will do just fine, plant in late April or May depending on what you grow & plant garlic and clover in November.

    I just pulled 20 lbs of Kale out of two rows in my garden! (estimated weight) It was enough to fill my friends king cab and my trunk full of stiff fresh flat leaf Kale! 🙂

    Tip: never use pressure treated wood, typically they have been soaked in some sort of chemicals. The organic community garden I’m in banned pressurized and treated woods.

    Front yards & back yards are perfect places for gardens. Thank you so much for the post.

    Watering: 1 inch of water saturates 6 inches of soil, and it’s enough to add 3 inches 2x each week. Timers and drip systems are great for weed control too if they can set to every three days or every other day. My plots are so big I put wood boards down where I want walkways so I don’t compact the dirt badly. The rows follow the sun from East to West & roots are always pulled after sunset. There is harvest times for each plant – google plant lore for more cool info.


  26. Jane says:

    Your raised garden it the best looking garden I have ever seen. You do not even have to get on your hands and knees to do the really hard work. I am inspired to do the same. Thanks for the great video. Loved the tour.

  27. Brenda says:

    I do have a garden. I have four raised beds, three planter boxes, and several large pots, a couple in ground fruit trees and I still find myself going to the farmers market. 🙂

  28. Nihacc says:

    I have a little balcony full of pots with tomatoes, pepper, mint, sunflower, parsley, cilantro (coriander), buckwheat, red cabbage, lettuce and chard! It’s my little paradise. I hope someday I’ll have a garden!! 😀

  29. Deirdre Braddock says:

    I just bought a house in Guerneville. I have purchased many starters but so far I have not yet planted any of them. I’m worried because I have so little experience with gardening and there isn’t much sun due to living among the tall redwoods.
    But….recently I dropped an old, wrinkled beet into the soil along with a bunch of other raw, vegan kitchen scraps in an effort to restore nutrients to the soil. I now have beet greens! I didn’t do anything. I didn’t even water.
    I’m a little bit afraid of the unknown at this point.
    Someone please report where rock dust can be purchased or obtained inexpensively in Sonoma County and what is specifically meant by “compost.” Do I have to make my own and wait for it to be ready? Or is it as simple as layering fruit and veggie scraps in between rock dust and soil in the raised beds?

  30. Matthias says:

    We just take a few seeds out of organic vegetables we eat anyway and it works really great. This way you don’t pay anything for seeds and even have organic seeds. Tomatoes, bell peppers, pumpkins, squashes all work really great. Just take a few seeds out of the vegetables when you eat or prepare your vegetables and plant the seeds.


  31. WOW!!! This is amazing and the timing is right on too. I just built some raised beds for our garden actually last week and finally transplanted the veggies we had growing in pots into it that needed much more ground to flourish and bring forth much fruit. I just sort of happened upon the idea myself kind of through intuition cuz the soil was so poor in the ground after I Rota-tilled it and saw all the rocks and sandy low nutrient dirt like gravel and not soil at all that one would think plants would flourish in. So I planned to put raised beds up on our patio also to keep rodents out (which by the way is another advantage of raised beds not mentioned in the Vidio with Kevin & John) but then I realized due to the weight factor decided to move the constructions to the garden I had Rota- Tilled and so at least the ground underneath was broken up and I got better soil from our compost in the woods of old debris like leaves, pine-needles and top soil…to filol the polanters…much more healthy looking. Definitely a GREAT solution that saves on space too and can be put on a patio, roof top, or anywhere one has especially where the sun is shinning and it can get the necessary light and love!!! Remember the LOVE ingredient is so important and to talk and sing to and with your plant friends. I would really recommend some of the tips in the Ringing Cedars book called Anastasia for some more practical ideas of how to get your seeds to produce for your individual needs by first soaking them in your own mouth saliva, yes in your mouth enzymnes, and so it can adapt to your personality and needs. And also some other helpful tips. Not to take Anastasia like the Gospel Truth or anything but an interesting story that “rings” true (pun intended, LOL)
    …Anyway, to answer the question of the day KEVIN, YES, we do have a garden, actually more than one, a veggie garden for food for the body and a Memorial Garden to fuel the soul, kind of a rememberence of souls gone before us to the hereafter transitioned on after living their lives here. A real good idea for a garden is to set up a sacred place for meditation and rememberence of loved and special ones where they have a place to rest in peace and be thought of…my parents are among the ones I personally include there for example who died while I was away in a crazy religious cult for about 22 years including the last 14 years of their life in the flesh on this earthly plane. Anyway just another garden idea that is also pertinenet and great to share. Thanks Kev and you too Ann Marie for all you do to help us get further on in this journey and In JOY it too!!! THUMBS UP To Renegade Health… and yes Gardening and Raw Organic Vegan Food!!!

  32. rainbow says:

    thanks, great show, as ever, and good timing too. i am in the process of moving (again) and am at the beginning stages of creating two raised bed gardens (one for me and one for the kitty to romp around in). right now the space is a lightly covered patio of concrete, so we’ll see how much gets completed right now, but i am excited to be working on this project and looking for all the guidance i can find on what to plant and how to create the space. thanks again for all you do. peace to you and to ALL life! rainbow 🙂

  33. Fontrella says:

    No I am sad to say I don’t have a garden. I live in a apartment but I am going to try to grow small items on my deck like herbs, greens and wheat grass.

  34. Elaine says:

    Garden? You bet!! We’ve gardened for many years, organically for the past 15 or so. Five years ago, I started Square Food gardening and love that method. I’ve had some soil challenges the last 3 years, however and will get some rock dust and use more of our homemade compost to fill my beds. I think the rock dust will solve my growing problems!

  35. Makorev says:

    Yes. I started several years ago with soil simply piled on the ground, since the limestone/coral where we live is pretty brutal to dig in and lacking in minerals and other nutrients. It worked well but grass infringed on the edges and the soil gradually spread due to rain and erosion from watering. Four years ago we pulled the soil back up and placed 4x4x8’s around the border, stacked about two feet high. We have one bed, approximately 40’x7′. While I’m still able to access the entire bed from one side or the other, I would agree that a width of 4′ or 5′ would be preferable. Also, I plan to raise the sides to 3′ or so to minimize bending and consequent back strain. As I mentioned once before, I compost seaweed (minerals) with manure (nitrogenous) and yard refuse and chipped branches (carbonaceous), accelerating the digestion process with bacteria and other specially selected micro-life (cf bio-dynamic farming. I find that seaweed seems to be quite effective as a replacement for rock dust and is more readily available for me.

    This year I mixed the native top soil with my compost and we did quite well producing kale, collards, onions, tomatoes, mustards, bush beans, eggplant, kohl rabi, leaf lettuce, cayenne peppers, and several herbs(stevia, sage, rosemary, parsley and various basil varieties). Apparently, due to the mineral content being higher than usual we had virtually no problems with pests– very unusual for us. Also, the good soil seemed to encourage our plant to flourish, reducing weeding by at least an estimated 50%. Even those weeds were easily removed due to the loose, aerated soil. I agree, DON’T WALK ON THE SOIL!

  36. Ivy says:

    To: Deirdre Braddock
    I’m in Santa Rosa, near you, so the best place around here is Harmony farms in Sebastapol. The rock dust, oyster shell calcium, cottonseed mix, lime etc… everything is there, they are an organic farm supply store. They also have inoculants for beans and stuff.
    I’m just starting a group online for Sonoma County so feel free to join in the local info and discussions and post a pic or questions about your garden there:

  37. Betoman says:

    yes, and don’t forget to mulch to reduce evaporation

  38. Gloria says:

    Hi there John,
    Thanks for your great video. I live on the Gold Coast Australia and being July it’s mid Winter-NICE
    We get lot’s of grasshopers which ruin everything – Please Help as nothing seems to kill them. Gloria.

  39. Diana(Ohio) says:

    I have had a garden since I was about 10 years old. Dad said I was old enough, so he helped me make my own raised bed and from then on I did all the work. The pride and joy was undescribable everytime I would harvest something and share it with my family!!!!!
    No matter where I have lived since I have had a garden either in the ground or at least in containers on a porch.


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