Garden Photo of the Day

Rewarding Vegetable Gardening in Wisconsin

By: Kim Charles

Kathy Riesterer from Wisconsin, has bridged the gap between the busy living we all experience, and vegetable gardening.

"Growing up on a family ranch in Montana gardening was a summer hobby my mother and father enjoyed. It was a large garden that had to be rototilled about every two weeks. Maintenance was key to keeping it weed free and growing beautifully. Those were the days! The lazy days of summer!
Fast forward to the now: raising my children on a small acreage in Wisconsin I thought I am going to do the same. Then came soccer practice, football camp, 4-H camp and projects, summer school and summer trips, and then on to baseball practice and teenage jobs, to “mom I need to hang with my friends,” and that is just a touch of what occurred over the years.
Busy lives with active, working kids and parents that try to add a vacation or two in the mix leaves little time for weeding and maintaining a garden. This is why I garden with a unique, raised gardening system; it is a self-watering garden bed that allows me to leave it when the schedules get busy. My husband actually designed and created this system in the 90's after his grandmother stopped gardening due to the strain it caused her back, but with a raised garden bed she was able to get back to what she loved without the pain of bending over.
My children were raised with gardening and because of that they also love to garden and appreciate the opportunity our gardens give us to bond, learn and grow together. It IS the reason I garden. Love my gardens! I hope you enjoy the photos. All the amazing and delicious vegetables were grown right in my backyard."

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  1. frankgreenhalgh 09/04/2017

    Hello there Kathy - A great story and fantastic innovation to enable vegetable gardening with your hectic lifestyle. I have also used raised beds to produce tomatoes, but the system was nowhere near as sophisticated as yours. My problem was that I needed a ladder to pick the tomatoes at the top of the bushes. Cheers from Oz

      1. Maggieat11 09/04/2017

        Loved it :-) , Frank! Thanks for sharing!

      2. user-7007498 09/04/2017

        Hi, Frank. "Raised veggie beds" are all the rage, but never thought about needing a ladder. Great photo. Hope things are going well. We have had a cooler than usual summer here in PA with abundant rain. Gardening has been fun. We had some cooler temps with highs around 60 degrees the last few days. Fall is approaching. I am sure you are getting excited about spring in your neck of the woods.

        1. frankgreenhalgh 09/04/2017

          G'day Kev - Great to hear from you. Yes spring has arrived after a warmer and drier winter than normal. My multi-faceted strategy to stop the wombats digging up my lawn failed dismally, and was causing considerable frustration. In desperation I have fenced off the area and held the bottom of the wire down with granite rocks. The star pegs are a bit unsightly, but the lawn is recovering after being reseeded. Cheers mate

          1. user-7007498 09/04/2017

            I will never complain about rabbits and chipmunks again. I remember the picture you shared of the wombats. They looked pretty nasty.

            Seeing all the rocks, reminded me of the picture you shared at the quarry, when you were loading up. I don't know how you have the energy to relocate all those rocks.

            I am currently working on redesigning a couple of areas in my garden. I had 2 trees die over the winter. Both were about 22 years old, and were some of the original trees I planted. This has created opportunity to change things around, so I am having fun with that.

          2. frankgreenhalgh 09/05/2017

            Sorry that you lost your 2 original trees, Kev. You are right about apparent disasters in the garden often creating new opportunities. A lovely big Banksia tree of mine suddenly turned up its toes a couple of years ago. This created the opportunity for me to build a gazebo once the dead tree was removed.

    1. tennisluv 09/04/2017

      Too funny, but quite innovative.

    2. user-6912610 09/05/2017

      Thank you Frank! Wow! Love it! Tomatoes do so well in the raised beds especially in the self-watering ones!

  2. tennisluv 09/04/2017

    Morning Kathy, what a great raised vegetable gardening setup you have. And the fruits of your labors look absolutely yummy. I grew up on a farm where we had two huge vegetable gardens and spent the spring, summer & fall picking, canning, and freezing as well as enjoying whatever was in season. Nothing beats fresh fruits and vegetables. The pots of pretty flowers as well as in the beds themselves adds to the appeal of your vegie garden.

    1. user-6912610 09/05/2017

      Thank you Sonya! Yes there are many ways to landscape around these gardens! The flowers add color and bring in beneficial insects!

  3. grannieannie1 09/04/2017

    A wonderful post! Is the huge raised bed container able to be purchased? I've never seen one that large.

    1. user-6912610 09/05/2017

      Thank you GrannieAnnie! Yes they are available to purchase! Here is the link to check them out at

  4. Maggieat11 09/04/2017

    What a wonderful solution to fit gardening into your lifestyle! Looks great; love the addition of the flowers too. Great way to draw in more pollinators.

    1. user-6912610 09/05/2017

      Thank you Margaret! The flowers are so beneficial for so many reasons!

  5. user-7007498 09/04/2017

    Good morning Kathy. What great raised veggie beds. This is the best idea I have seen. Your produce looks awesome.

    1. user-6912610 09/05/2017

      Thank you Kevin! It is a fun and different way to garden!

  6. user-4691082 09/04/2017

    Hi Kathy, and happy Labor Day everyone! You have a great way to solve gardening problems. I commend you for being a great mom. Those years have come and gone for me. You will never regret the time you spent on your kids. I'm having a blast with our adult children. In fact, we are going to Disney World in October. I couldn't believe they and wife, and girlfriend wanted to come! Your garden is just right! Hopefully, your kids will keep up your tradition of gardening. Thanks for sharing.

    1. user-6912610 09/05/2017

      Thank you so much Rhonda! These gardens are easy for busy young people! It keeps gardening as a tradition in family homes that do not have space or time!

  7. sheila_schultz 09/04/2017

    Those are fabulous raised beds, Kathy, and it's perfect that they are irrigated. What a wonderful solution for a busy family that enjoys fresh vegies! You and your family must have fun deciding what to plant from year to year!

    1. user-6912610 09/05/2017

      Thank you! We try to plant new things. I even planted peanuts that I tried for fun and it was just that a fun experience!

  8. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/04/2017

    Sigh..." it is a self-watering garden bed that allows me to leave it when the schedules get busy"...
    such beautiful words...they should be set to music and turned into a gardener's lullaby or love song! Your husband is a treasure for coming up with these extra large raised planter boxes for his mother and then you. And, Kathy, the photos of your vegetables are truly stunning.

    1. user-6912610 09/05/2017

      Thank you! They are wonderful to garden in!

  9. greengenes 09/04/2017

    Wow! Great story and great product! When i get old i will have something like this! Beautiful vegies too! Thanks for sharing!

    1. user-6912610 09/05/2017

      Thank you Jeanne! My mother has one and loves it!

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