Raised beds - and we’re not talking about the kind you sleep in! What are the benefits of growing a raised bed garden? Pros vs Cons? We’ll tell you all about it!
What is a raised garden bed, anyway?
A raised garden is a garden bed that sits ON the ground rather than being dug INTO the ground. They can be purchased online, built from new wood, scrap wood or metal! Raised garden beds add a clean appearance and ergo friendly design to a backyard garden.
Pros & Cons
A raised garden bed can’t be ALL good and NO bad… right? Well, I’d say it’s pretty close! Check out these pros and cons of raised garden beds!
Raised garden beds are great when working with limited space.
When built with a bottom to the garden, it can be moved to any location, even if you entirely move your home!! (It may not be easy, but it’s do-able!) However, without a bottom, plants can establish deep, strong roots that won’t be drowned by the water table, giving you luscious greenery all season long!
Raised beds allow for easy soil amendment. Meaning, YOU control what kind of nutrients your plants are getting, by mixing in fertilizers and compost to build up and improve soil quality! This also helps to avoid growing your food plants in contaminated soil.
No rocks or annual tilling!! WIN.
Minimal weeds. Since you control what goes into your garden, that also means weeds!
Raised beds heat up faster in the spring, allowing for a longer growing season! You can also turn your raised beds into little greenhouses with hoops and plastic covering, which extends your growing season even further!
Soil to stay!! Even if your garden is built on a hill, your soil will not wash away in the rain.
Raised garden beds are great for anyone who has an injury or troubles bending down to the ground i.e. ergonomically friendly!!
No dirty shoes or compacted soil! Since you won’t need to step in your garden beds to care for them, it saves the mess and allows oxygen rich soil to stay that way!
Raised garden beds are not ideal for hot and dry climates. Due to the high temperatures, raised beds run the risk of dry, hot soil that is not ideal for keeping healthy plants.
Cost. When considering the materials to build the garden beds and the components needed to fill them, the initial startup cost for building a raised garden can be a bit expensive.
Raised beds do not work well with a tiller, so soil manipulation must be done by hand and can be time consuming.
All in all, if you don’t live in the desert and you’re willing to put forth the initial investment and a little extra time, a raised garden bed would be a great fit for you!
What Plants Should I Grow?
The answer is simple: anything!! In order to get the most out of your raised garden beds, you should plant as much as possible without overcrowding root space. So plant whatever your heart desires! Just be sure to leave space so the plants can breathe. Note: Try not to place trailing plants like cucumbers next to upward growing plants like carrots or lettuce, as the vines could smother the developing plants.
Watering a Raised Garden
Raised garden beds, like any garden, require plenty of water - making a regular means for transporting water to the plants a necessity. Consider placing your garden near a water source, especially when using a watering can that will need to constantly be refilled. Or invest in a soaking hose to ensure adequate watering. You can find them at your local big box store!! Be sure to stay away from sprinklers- this method of watering, while effective at soaking the soil, may wet the leaves of the plants, causing mold and disease to form.
Tips & Tricks
When building your raised garden bed, be sure to lay down a layer of straw and cardboard before filling the bed with peat and compost soil. The straw and cardboard will later be broken down and add more nutrients to the soil!
Be sure to use an even mix of potting soil, compost soil, and other nutrient packed ingredients. Potting soil drains very quickly, which could leave your garden dry and in constant need of water. In the same way, compost drains slowly and retains moisture leaving your garden susceptible to overwatering, molding and disease.
Do NOT use chemically treated wood to build your garden bed. The wood may last longer, but the chemicals from the wood can leach into the soil and contaminate the food product!
If you’re building more than one garden bed be sure to leave enough space in between your garden beds for a wheelbarrow and lawn mower to fit through, avoiding the unnecessary expense of buying a weed eater, and the time it takes to trim down all the grass.
To stop tall grass from growing up in between the rows of your garden, try laying down landscaping fabric and covering it with mulch or pea gravel! It adds a nice, neat appearance to your garden landscape, and keeps weeds at bay.
Don’t forget to mulch your garden beds!! Many people make the mistake of growing their garden beds in open soil. Plants will grow fine this way, however weeds will be more prevalent, and the plants will not grow as big or bear much produce. Mulch soaks up extra water when there is too much, and keeps moisture in the soil when there’s not enough, so it’s pretty much a garden hero!!
Make sure your garden beds aren’t too wide! Raised beds should be built so that they can be easily managed from all directions. If built too wide, you’ll need to step inside your garden to add nutrients and remove weeds, which will compact the soil and defeat one of the major benefits of having a raised garden.
Now you’re a garden expert, and ready to dive into your first, or second, or third… or whatever gardening adventure!! Visit https://journeywithjill.net/gardening/blog/ for more tips and tricks from a garden goddess!!