Planting Dahlias in Raised Beds: Worth It?

Planting dahlias in raised beds

In the past, we’ve always planted our dahlia tubers directly into the ground of our garden beds. This year, however, we’re experimenting with planting dahlias in raised beds. The question is, will it be worth the investment?

Like the good little researchers we are, we started with a hypothesis–a smartypants way of saying that we had an idea, based on a bit of past experience, that we wanted to investigate further. Having always planted our dahlias in the ground, we had come to recognize some of the challenges that came with that method (more on that in a moment).

So, we came to this project with the hope of finding a better way forward. And, we see a few possible advantages to planting dahlias in raised beds.

Of course, as with any experiment, we also see some possible risks.

So, it’s safe to say that there’s a certain about of uncertainty…fear, even…that we’re feeling as we wait to see what happens next.

We dedicated an entire episode to this project on our YouTube channel. You can watch below, and we would love if you would subscribe (HERE), and follow our adventures in farmsteading. Not even kidding…when you subscribe, we become giddy with joy! πŸ₯°

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Planting Dahlias in Raised Beds…Versus In-Ground

Like I’ve already mentioned, we had only ever planted our dahlias directly into the ground in past seasons. But, this has come with some challenges that we were hoping to mitigate.

Planting dahlia tubers into the ground

Past Challenges of Planting Dahlias In-Ground

One of the biggest challenges for us has been the fact that our land is very, very, very rocky. It’s a constant headache when we’re trying to till, create new beds, or plant anything.

Not only do the rocks slow us down while we’re trying to get work done, but once you pick them into buckets, you have to do something with them!

We also have a lot of very mature trees, and their roots spread far and wide.

And then, there’s the fact that we’re…ummm, shall we say, not as young as we once were. So, working on our hands and knees all the time is getting to be more and more cumbersome.

{ Related: How We Created a New Landscaping Bed }

Raised beds make it easy on the body to plant dahlia tubers

Potential Advantages of Planting Dahlias in Raised Beds

There are two huge advantages that we’re thinking of right off the bat.

The first is reducing the strain on our bodies. Planting into raised beds means that we can sit beside the beds to work (rather than kneel), and that really feels a whole lot better on the back and knees at the end of the day.

This raised bed kit makes building the beds quick and easy. And we love these stools for toting around the farm.

The second item in the plus column is the fact that we can fill our raised beds with fluffy, healthy, rock-free soil and compost. No more headaches of picking out rocks or chopping up roots that are in the way. Just yards and yard of gloriously fluffy soil.

And that bed of floofiness should make the process of harvesting our tubers for storage in the fall both faster and easier (we hope!).

Now…to be fair, these advantages do come with a cost.

There’s the literal cost of building the beds and buying the soil, for starters. I mean, have you looked at the price of lumber lately?! Oof.

And there’s also the investment of our time and energy to create this bit of infrastructure, which…let me tell you…is no small thing. Hauling 30 yards of soil is a workout like no other, my friend.

We’re hopeful that all of the investments we’ve made into building our 5 raised beds (for this year!) will pay off. If so, we will consider adding even more next year.

{ Related: Our Crop Plans for Year 1 of Flower Farming }

Pink dahlia

Let’s Talk About Those Vulnerable Feelings…

As first-year flower farmers, we have loads of doubts and fears going on inside.

What I’m about to say applies to, oh, I don’t know, pretty much every single aspect of human life. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to start a farm, training to run a marathon, cooking a new recipe, beginning a new relationship, or any other aspiration…here’s the thing:

Whenever you strive for something/someplace bigger than where you are currently, there will be uncertainty and emotional risk.

It simply comes with the territory. You cannot try new things without also risking failure.

If you haven’t watched the episode on our YouTube channel that goes along with this post, now is definitely the time to watch it because we get all kinds of honest about this conversation. (And also, c’mon already, why haven’t you watched it yet! FIND IT HERE)

While the risk of failure is not optional, how we deal with it is a choice.

We’re very aware of the fact that if we don’t get a handle on those feelings of uncertainty, doubt, and fear, our farm is pretty much destined to fail. We HAVE to be willing to take risks, try new things, and go outside of our comfort zone. And, when we encounter all those very natural and human feelings that go along with that, we HAVE to manage it properly to continue forward toward the life we’re trying to create for ourselves.

Now that I’ve said the big, squishy, philosophical thing, let’s bring it back down to the very tangible and real stuff that’s happening on our farm: Planting stuff in the ground!

{ Related: Going From Homestead to Farmstead }

Rob and Kristi are first-year flower farmers who specialize in growing dahlias.

Doubts & Fears of First-Year Farmers

Whenever we plant something, those dreaded feelings of uncertainty start to percolate. Transplants, seeds, tubers…it doesn’t matter. It’s all about doing the best you can, and then you just kinda hold your breath and…….wait.


Will the plants grow? Will they produce like we want them to? Will we be able to sell what we harvest? Will we even have enough to harvest? Will we be able to make a living for our family?

I’m not going to sugarcoat it and say that it gets easier. I’ve been hobby-growing for a lotta years before we decided to start farming for profit, and it has never gotten easier for me. I’d wager to bet that any farmer you talk to has these exact same feelings while they’re waiting to see how the year’s crop will turn out. So it really doesn’t matter if you’re growing tulips in a pot on your balcony or 1,000 acres of wheat. The feelings are the same.

Although the feelings don’t get any easier, the way we deal with those feelings is what makes doing this work possible.

This thing we’re doing…building a farm, cultivating a new life for our family, striving for a life well-lived…is all an audacious adventure that carries some risk.

But the truth is, there is no great reward without risk.

Those feelings of uncertainty can leave us feeling paralyzed with fear, or we can use them to identify when we’re doing something wholeheartedly courageous, and we can lean into that discomfort in order to pursue our dreams.

It’s all a choice, and there is no question which path I will always choose.

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As first-year flower farmers, we're tackling the doubts and fears that come with the territory as we plant our dahlias for the season.

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