The Phelan Family’s Minibed Gardening Adventure (A Most Excellent Photo Essay)…

In late December 2020, my wife and I began to rethink our garden. We were planning to move into a new house in the spring of 2021, so we would have a new place and thought it might be a good time to try something new. I’ve been an avid reader of Herrick Kimball for well over a decade, maybe closer to 15 years, and I was very inspired by his new minibed gardening technique. With his technique in mind and his minibed trilogy in hand (I bought the PDF and had Office Depot print it and bind it for me), my wife and I spent several dozen hours planning our new garden. I hope you enjoy this little photo essay we put together to show some of the joy we found in minibed gardening. I hope it inspires you to try it! —Grady Phelan, Waco, Texas

We rented a small trencher that trenched about 4 inches wide and 18 or 20 inches deep.
Using a string line we trenched around the minibed area. We wanted to prevent Bermuda grass from coming under the plastic, so we folded the plastic down in the trench to create a rhizome barrier.
Here we are finishing the square. Notice how we trench past the other line so we got a good corner. The corners need to be cleaned out with a small shovel or by hand.
Our silage tarp is 40′ x 50′ so I made our square about 38′ x 47′ so the trench would get at least 12 inches of plastic down inside. We also used 30 inch minibeds but we did a full 24″ between the beds for walkways and from the last bed to the edge of the plastic.
Here we are beginning the box assembly process. We set up a jig on the picnic table so we could easily square up the corners of the boards.
Twenty-four, and counting.
Using a sharp pocket knife and a 1/2″ guiding stick, we cut the plastic out of the first 24 minibeds.
We used 3/8 inch rebar in three of the corners, just like Herrick suggested. Seems to work great.
After scrounging some more lumber, we made the rest of the minibeds. 80 in all.
Instead of cutting all the plastic out of all the minibeds this first year, we decided to only cut out what we needed for each plant. Here are the minibeds we plan to use for tomatoes.
For our peppers we cut out the plastic, planted the transplants and then mulched with straw. This seemed to work great!

We tried this method for drying out our peppers. Simply put the peppers on a string and hang them out in the sun and wind to dry. It worked great!
Peppers in the front and little okra plants toward the back. The okra seems so fragile at the beginning…
… but they grow up so fast!
We save okra seed every year. This is our third generation for the “Star of David” variety.
One of the best things about the minibed garden is that it is kid friendly! We have five children and they are all able to help or otherwise participate in the garden. It’s very easy to know where to walk and where the crops are being grown. It’s also easy to show them how to distinguish weeds from the crop in the minibed. I always felt that doing the work in bite-sizes helped keep me motivated, and this garden is the same way.

You can’t BEET this! Harvest time is very rewarding in the garden.
Even our littlest one loves the garden. She’s able to stay out of the beds… for the most part.

Don’t forget to plant flowers!
We really love our new minibed garden! Even though we are only one year in, minibed gardening looks to be very successful for many years ahead, even in Texas!

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Herrick’s Comments…

This photo essay pretty much speaks for itself. Obviously, it isn’t just about a minibed garden. It’s about a down-to-earth family working together. It’s about parents teaching their children from a young age how to grow their own food, which is one of the most important life skills a human should know. This is truly inspiring, and powerfully endearing.

Thank you, Grady Phelan, for sharing your beautiful family, and your family’s minibed gardening adventure here!

For those who are not familiar with the Minibed gardening system, you can watch several YouTube videos HERE. And the Minibed Gardening Trilogy PDF is available HERE.

3 thoughts on “The Phelan Family’s Minibed Gardening Adventure (A Most Excellent Photo Essay)…”

  1. What a great testimony to not only the benefit of the minibed system, but more importantly of a family growing and learning together. This is the type of family that will keep us strong and free. God bless them.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Saw the YouTube version yesterday afternoon. It’s encouraging to see folks adopting your methods so well, and obviously enjoying the results!

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