The Beginning of a New Startle Garden

The Beginning of a New Startle Garden

If there’s one thing I love about gardening it’s creating a planting space from the ground up.  Here we have the beginning stages of a new startle garden located at the Tiny House property, Quail Grove.

We’ve been clearing trees for over a month and during the process I was scoping for hours of sunlight and where I might want to spend time gardening.

Just so happens it was near the creek.

Before I could bring in raised beds we had to remove this massive Bois d’ arc tree.  We burned and burned and Robert went after this tree with gusto.

When it was finally gone, excitement surfaced, view the before here.  

The Beginning of a New Startle Garden with raised beds

Begin with the 2 x 4 Raised Bed

I brought in 2 x 4 raised beds made from 2 x 4 lumber, building plans can be found here.

This display is the first layout; each bed will go another layer up before we fill them with dirt and the corners will have rebar to secure the corners; this addition makes it less difficult to replace boards years later.

Tall raised beds are wonderful and they make it much easier to garden for a few reasons.

  • Fewer Weeds
  • Easier prep and clean up time
  • Maintains moisture
  • Less bending over
  • Makes a wonderful Startle Presentation

Inside each raised bed begins with natural matter

Filling Tall Raised Beds

I’m often asked how much dirt does it take to fill in tall raised beds.  In my new book, Startle Garden I actually cover setting up raised beds in detail. I don’t use just dirt; natural elements are also incorporated giving each bed a dynamic boost that welcomes worm activity.

These elements in addition to the soil include,

  • Natural Matter
  • Direct Compost
  • Animal Fertilizer like Llama Droppings

At this property, we have dried tree debris everywhere, I mean everywhere.

Between raking, burning and repeat the process I’m also using this matter to fill in the bottom of these beds.  It’s applied pretty thick and will pack down after a good rain; then we can cover it with dirt.

How a raised bed is establish and maintained can help you grow an amazing garden.

The Beginning of a New Startle Garden project

Startle Garden Number #1

My first Startle Garden happened last summer at our farm, it was such fun and I really enjoyed gardening with smaller raised beds because it helped me focus and not get overwhelmed.

I’m a believer that gardening should be an enjoyable activity not something that consumes every moment and every hour of the day.

At Quail Grove, I’ll be installing several of these gardens at our location and I can hardly wait to make it happen.

Startle Garden Placement

How Many Gardens Will Carole have?

Back at our new homestead I plan to have at least 3 set ups similar to this and I’m pretty sure they will all be near the creek.  So far this is my favorite place and you know what else?

I’m going to learn how to build a bridge over the creek so we can get to the rest of our 2 acres by foot without using the main road.  Y’all it’s going to be awesome and I sure hope you’re following along.

Those additional gardens will be included after we remove more stumps, this seems to take forever.  For now, I’m going to enjoy the beginning stages of this new garden and I can hardly wait to fill them with herbs and blooming perennials.

It’s possible I’m having way too much fun and Robert well he just enjoys seeing me happy when we’re out here, it’s like this green haven of wonderful everywhere I look.

Beginning Steps to setting up a New Startle Garden. Learn more about this low maintenance garden system. #StartleGarden, #gardentips



  1. Patti says:

    It sure does sound like you’re having fun. I’m jealous. I can’t wait to see this bridge you’re talking about, and what a great gift to provide startle gardens for the new homesteaders. Carry on!

    1. Carole says:

      I really am having fun I feel so alive out there and we’re just counting the days… What’s even more fun is transitioning the blog to a new location of sharing. The bridge well that will probably be a project Robert and I do together… which should be interesting because we’re both pretty bull headed..

  2. Karen says:

    I love what you’re doing, Carole, and look forward to watching those boxes fill up. My first Startle Garden is pretty basic, but your design here is so inspiring. I have plant to build more beds next year and you’d better believe I’m copying your layout – and maybe even continue on beyond!

    Cant’ wait to see this unfold.

    1. Carole says:

      Thank you Karen – back when I shared the Easy Reach Raised bed and took it to THG to giveaway there was this awesome lady at my workshop and she mentioned starting the bed short and then each season adding a couple more layers until eventually it got taller. Basically so it wasn’t so much work in the beginning stages. Which I thought was a great idea so with the beds you already have you could do the same. Just add a couple more frames, stack them on top and fill. Do this in the fall which will make carrying that garden over winter much easier too. I”m anxious to see your garden and glad I’ve inspired you. I’m loving it..

  3. mickie mclaughlin says:

    Carole…I was thrilled to open this blog today. You are making so much progress with your property (and at the same time inspiring your followers to get busy). I had to laugh at your plans to build a bridge across the creek. Sounds SO like the younger me. (I have a few years on you).

    Thank you for the lovely message about “being just a mom”. Why do we women play down the importance of our influence on the next generation….and our grandkids. It has to be because we are so busy and it really is hard work sometimes. Moms really are the glue of the family.

    Happy Mothers Day. mickie

    1. Carole says:

      Hello Mickie and Happy Mother’s day to you!!
      Glad you enjoyed today’s email that was a fun one and I was beaming to share this new space. Okay well the bridge will probably be a project Robert and I work on together because when I mentioned it he perked right up. I may have to video this one because when we work together it can rather entertaining. It starts like this… Well this is what I was thinking and then I step in and say… Well this is what I was thinking.. and then at some point we compromise our ideas. I’m already laughing because I know this is going to happen. I’m definitely enjoying this property and once we’re out there full time there will be video on the blog which will bring this all to life. As for “Just being a mom” I believe yes it’s because we get so busy and definitely the glue the holds everything together or at least tries to. Hugs!!

  4. Mandy Black says:

    This looks really cool! I’ll have to get a copy when I get ready to garden again. 🙂

    1. Carole says:

      Hey Mandy – how are you? Well because you know me I can say this…. It is really cool!! Okay you’re smiling now so it’s a good day!
      Startle Garden is sweet – it’s like a workbook in addition with all the goodness. Happy Mother’s Day!

  5. Jane says:

    the bridge sounds fabulous…do some stories of your process. would love to see the both of you working on something you love together! We have lots going on, but hubby & I have been talking about finally starting a garden or at the very least getting those beds ready. I have your beautiful book and can’t wait.

    Happy Mother’s Day, xo

    1. Carole says:

      Thank you Jane – I will be doing some stories and video it’s going to be a blast. So excited about you gardening can hardly wait to see.. Have a fantastic weekend!

  6. Looking good! What do you plan to grown in that tall bed with the heavy board trellis?

    1. Carole says:

      Well I’m probably going to use that trellis for an annual that I can trade out each year starting with my Grandma’s Italian Flat beans. I’m focusing on fall planting this year and using spring and summer to prep beds.

  7. Lucy says:

    I am so keen to read your blog about gardening beds. Your help is appreciated. I am new to gardening and I want to grow more vegetables and edible crops. I want organic gardening with good productivity.

    1. Carole says:

      Hello Lucy – I switched to raised beds about 4 years ago and since then it’s just worked much better. I do a lot of other things in addition to gardening and the beds allowed me to decrease labor. I’m an all natural gardener, it’s awesome! I don’t seek perfection just growing herbs, crops and flowers we enjoy. Hope you have a great weekend.

  8. mickie mclaughlin says:

    Carole…..I forgot to ask you if ashes from my fire pit could be added to my little gardens directly. My compost pile is so full of huge worms I am dreading digging into the soil. I have always just piled my leaves, grass and kitchen waste on top of my 4 foot area with no turning, but after reading your G-mother’s direct compost process, I have begun to do that now. I just love experimenting.

    just looked out on my deck where I have scattered bird seeds and have doves, wrens, a chip monk AND A PARAKEET. I bet someone’s pet has escaped the cage . I just love nature.

    1. Carole says:

      Yes I do that all the time, ashes are great for the garden.. The Direct composting just makes life easier glad you’re giving it a try. Nature is awesome and so full of blessings.

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