Well that’s all the rage nowadays.
Every gardener is talking about raised bed gardens. Raise beds are being used for all types of gardening and yes, you can also use raised beds for your vegetable garden.
So what really is this raised bed? What is so great about it that so many gardeners are adopting this method of gardening?
Well a raised bed garden is a method of farming where the gardening area is raised above the regular ground level. The beds are constructed in such a way that extra soil is contained within a frame of sorts. It really just looks like a large square or rectangular box (without a bottom) which is full of dirt. Sometimes if these boxes are not available the soil is mounded up to the required height needed for planting to take place.
The garden looks great
One thing you can say about raised bed garden is that it makes you garden look really neat and attractive. The boxes can be arranged in whatever way you desire to give an aesthetically pleasing layout.
Although the most common construction material for these raised beds is wood, other material can also be utilized. Concrete blocks, decorative blocks, wicker, corrugated metal, or any other eye catching material can be used.
Raised beds are usually about 4 feet wide. It can be any length you desire although common lengths are 4 feet, 8 feet or 12 feet.
The raised bed should not be less than 6 inches deep. Most commonly though they are 8 to 12 inches. You can decide the depth you need depending on what you are planning to grow. The 6-inch deep garden works for vegetables with shallow roots such as lettuce, but if you plan to plant some deep root growers such as carrots you would need the deeper beds.
Here are some reasons why gardeners like raised beds.
1. It makes gardening easier and more manageable.
Because of the width of these beds, it is easy to access your plants without having to step in and trample and compact the soil. Also because of the set up process, there are fewer weeds to deal with than with the in-ground garden.
It is amazing the quantity of food you can reap from one 4ft by 4ft garden. No space is wasted for walkways like in traditional gardening so lots more plants can be planted in a much smaller space.
We can therefore summarize this by saying raised beds make efficient use of space and keep maintenance to a minimum, making the garden more manageable.
2. Better soil
Another good thing about raised bed gardens is that no matter what type of soil you start with you can always make it better with this gardening method. This is due to the fact that after you construct your beds you will fill it up with good fertile soil. It is common practice to mix ingredients such as top soil, compost, peat moss, manure etc. Of course there is no specific combination of ingredients which will make the perfect all round raised garden soil. What you put into your soil depends very much upon what you plan to plant and your local climate.
Your loose, fertile soil is now ready for your seeds or seedlings.
3. Good drainage
Good drainage is key when it comes to farming. If the soil does not have good drainage, the roots of the plants will just sit in that soggy ground and rot. With these beds however, the water drains down the 8 to 12 inches of soil before it reaches the topsoil on the ground thereby avoiding water-logged soil. Raised garden beds allow you to easily create the optimal combination of drainage and moisture retention by the addition lots of organic matter.
This makes for some very happy plants.
4. Watering can be more controlled.
No more watering the pavement, the empty spaces and everywhere else where there is no seed. Also, no walking long distances to get to all the plants that need watering.
5. Save your back
How would you like to do your gardening without being all hunched up and bending over? With your raised bed garden you can even sit on the side of the bed and do your gardening. Some of the beds are directly on the ground but some of them have legs or are placed on stands so you can even stand upright and work. How great is that!
What should you plant?
Lots of persons these days are becoming quite health conscious. If you are one of these persons I know that you try to get in about 5-8 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, and what better way to get a good supply of vegetables than to plant your own. There are so many to choose from and most are quite easy to grow.
There are some vegetables that do great in a raised bed garden. Some not so great.
The fact though is that most of them do great.
Such as these…..
Root vegetables such as carrots, radishes, beet.
Leafy greens such as lettuce, kale, spinach.
Onions, scallions and leeks.
Tomatoes and cucumbers that enjoy the nutrient rich soil.
Potatoes… yes, potatoes. They grow in the deeper beds however. You wouldn’t want to plant potatoes in 6 inches of soil. Think 12 inches and above, and guess what? It is much easier to harvest the potatoes from the raised beds than from the traditional method
You can grow sweet potatoes as well.
Leave these for the ground
A few vegetables are not suited for raised bed. Vegetables such as pumpkins, squash, melons and sweet corn might do better in the ground because of the extensive amount of space they require.
What might deter you from raised beds
There are so many reasons why you would want to choose the raised bed method for your vegetable garden but there are a few cons. Very few when compared to the many pros.
1. Raised beds can be expensive to build when you consider the materials to build the frame. Of course, you have some control there because it depends on what you want. You decide how you want it to look and how much you can spend.
2. You also need to factor in the cost of the soil components that is needed to fill the bed.
3. In hot summers water evaporates more quickly in raised beds than in ground-level gardens resulting in them (raised beds) requiring much more frequent watering.
There you are. I told you there were only a few cons.
Are you ready for your gardening adventure? Even if you only have a small space, a raised bed garden will be able to provide you with a wide and bountiful harvest of all your favourite vegetables.
Gather your tools, gather your seeds and happy farming.
Have you had any experience with gardening? Have you used raised beds? We would love to hear about it.
Please share in the comments section below.