How To Build A Raised Garden Bed: Your Complete Guide
Section 1: Introduction
Is gardening your passion? Do you love to grow your own vegetables in the comfort of your own home? If you answered ‘yes’ to these two questions then why not add a raised garden bed to your year for growing all your favourite vegetables?
What Is A Raised Garden Bed?
Sometimes known as garden boxes, raised garden beds are the ideal way to grow vegetables and flowers in your yard simply and easily while avoiding weeds and other pests from disturbing the soil.
The main purpose of a raised garden bed is to lift the level of the soil to make room for the roots or vegetables that grow beneath the soil’s surface. The sides of the raised bed keep the soil in place to prevent any erosion or runoff from occurring. Without a bottom, these garden boxes allow water to run deeper into the soil and allow roots too, to grow as deep as they need.
Section 2: Benefits of raised garden beds
There are a wide variety of benefits that a raised garden bed can bring to your home. The concept of raised bed gardening has been used for many years for the variety of benefits detailed below.
1. A Neat Alternative
Raised garden beds are a simple way to keep your garden beds neat and attractive. By using different materials, you will be able to work the look of your raised beds into the overall look and feel of your home and garden.
2. Easier Gardening
Since raised garden beds are that much higher than regular beds, it makes for easier gardening for elderly or disabled individuals who have trouble bending down to reach the garden bed. It is an ideal way to garden for people who suffer from chronic back pain as the beds are more easily accessible with less pain involved.
3. Out Of Critters And Weeds Reach
A raised garden bed means it is out of reach of little critter like rabbits and moles that could potentially snack on your crops. They are also high enough to avoid dogs making use of your plants as a toilet.
The raised bed makes it more difficult for pests to get to your delicious vegetables and if you add extra reinforcement underneath the box, you can keep moles and gophers from snacking on your root vegetables from below.
The raised level of the bed is great for keeping out weeds and unwanted grass. This, in turn, saves you time on removing weeds from your garden beds as well as giving your plants the freedom to grow without the obstruction of weeds or lack of food and water that has been used up by weeds.
4. Better Soil Quality
By creating a new level of soil for your raised garden bed, you have the opportunity to avoid poor quality or contaminated soil or even correcting sub-par soil already present in your garden. Raised bed gardens are a great cost saver in terms of fixing undesirable soil to reach just the right combination of sand and clay before planting your seeds.
Find a good quality top soil with which to fill up your raised garden bed. This also means that the soil is not as compacted as your normal garden beds without rigorous tilling.This makes it easier for your plants’ roots to grow in the looser soil with minimal effort on your part.
The looser soil allows the roots of your plants to spread in all directions without restricting their growth.Having loose soil also means that it receives better aeration around the roots, exposing the plants to more oxygen and carbon dioxide, making it more fertile and resulting in a higher yield of crops.
5. Excellent Drainage
Thanks to the open bottom side of your raised garden bed, water is free to drain right through the soil without leaving the bed waterlogged, especially during the rainy season. Having solid sides to your raised bed ensures that the fertile topsoil is not washed away with the rain or from watering.
Too much water in the garden bed can cause fungal and bacterial diseases in the plants and can interfere with the plants" respiration processes, as well as changing the pH level to an undesirable state. Raised garden beds ensure that the moisture in the soil remains adequate without drying out or filling up with too much water.
6. Longer Growing Season
Since the beds are raised they start to warm up earlier on in the spring, which allows you to begin planting your produce well ahead of time compared to planting in a normal garden bed. Additionally, the bed will stay warmer later into the fall season, giving you even more time to continue growing your crops.
7. Maximise Limited Space
The raised bed will allow roots to grow deeper into the earth, as you have simply lifted the level of fertile soil for them to grow. Just be sure to till the ground well below before constructing your raised garden bed if you want your crops to grow deep into the ground.On the opposite end of the scale, let your small bed grow high too.
By making use of trellises, you can grow vertical plants like grapevines or passionfruit. This way you can double up on your space. A single, small raised garden bed can provide you with double the produce by planting neat rows of crops that grow both beneath and above the soil. This is great if you have a small garden to begin with.
Section 3: The Most Common Mistakes With Raised Garden Beds
1. Planting Out Of Season
When you plant your seeds will govern how well your plants will grow. The time of year that is best to plant varies across the world. Seed packages generally will guide you as to when is best, however this may even differ from one side of town to the other. It is best to consult with a local gardening expert who has experimented with planting times and can guide you.
2. Soil Preparation
If you are using soil straight from your garden, be sure to test it to ensure it is of good quality. You may need to purchase some additives to reach a good quality for growing. If you are unable to test the soil, simply buy a bag of good quality top soil from your local garden center. It is also important to remember that the soil can change from season to season, so test it before planting new seedlings in the spring.
3. Forget To Research Your Plants
Before planting the vegetables you want to grow, do some research and find out the types of conditions they grow best in and how they need to be treated. It is important to check the soil quality, amount of water and sunlight they need and which season is best for growth.
4. Poor Garden Bed Placement
This goes hand in hand with research. Placing your raised garden bed in the wrong area of your garden is the biggest mistake made by first-time gardeners. Before constructing your raised garden bed, decide on the type of plants you’ll be growing and the amount of sunlight they will need and at what time of the day they need it.
5. Too Much Watering
Plants need water to grow and thrive, but plants actually hate too much water, which also restricts their breathing. Excess water in the garden bed can create a breeding ground for mould and fungi. By watering your plants too often, their roots will be very shallow.
This means that during drier times they will not be able to reach water sources lower down in the soil.There is also the risk of not watering enough. If you water your plants over the top, you risk only watering the leaves and not getting enough water into the soil where it is needed most.
Too much water present on the leaves can increase the risk for fungus and disease. It is also recommended that you water early in the morning when it is not too hot to prevent too much evaporation. Avoid watering in the late afternoon or evening as the excess moisture present during the night may cause disease.
6. Forgetting To Compost And Fertilize
Remember that as your plants grow, they use nutrient from the soil. So, you will need to add extra nutrients to the soil every now and again to keep your plants well-nourished. Adding some compost to the garden beds will replenish these nutrients. Adding fertilizer to the soil will help the plant to grow healthy leaves, but be careful not to add too much or fertilize at the wrong times.
7. No Pest Control
If you are worried about using pesticides for the fear that they will poison your crops, would you rather have aphids eat away at your hard work? The good news is that there are plenty of natural options and non-toxic pesticides to keep unwanted pests away from your crops.
8. Not Adding Mulch
Adding a layer of mulch on top of the soil will help to protect your plants while also giving the soil some added nutrients and retaining necessary moisture in the soil. Go the extra mile and protect your hard work with some mulch.
Types Of Raised Garden Beds
There are a number of options when constructing your raised garden bed. Whether you build it yourself from scratch or buy a ready to assemble kit, there is an option for any need. You can create your raised bed garden with a variety of materials, from concrete blocks and wooden planks to sandbags and galvanised steel. Use your chosen materials to create any of these types of raised garden beds to suit your purpose:
1. A Self-watering Raised Garden Bed
This type of raised garden bed is great for growing your own vegetables at home. A self-watering system supplies a very slow, continuous flow of water into the soil keeping the moisture content at adequate levels, without flooring your garden bed.
2. A Modular Raised Garden Bed
A great way to start if you are new to raised garden beds, modular designs allow you to start small and gradually increase the size of your raised bed later on if you need. Modular raised garden beds are available in kit form, allowing you to easily construct it yourself and change the design to suit your garden or planting needs. This type allows you to easily slot in new boards as and when you need them.
3. A Tiered Raised Garden Bed
Creating a tiered raised garden bed is ideal to create depth in your garden and separate your garden bed into different sections. It is a creative way to incorporate a raised garden bed into your existing garden. Additionally, tiered raised garden beds can give you more opportunity to experiment with growing vertically in a limited amount of space.
4. A Table Garden Bed
Table garden beds are a different take on the raised garden bed, as they are completely off the ground. While they can accommodate your deep-rooted vegetables, like carrots and tomatoes. The greatest benefits of the table design is for gardeners who cannot get down to tend to their crops, such as elderly people and those bound to a wheelchair.
5. A Vinyl Raised Garden Bed
Vinyl is a great option if you are looking to avoid extra maintenance, such as dealing with mould, rust or rot. Made from vinyl material that is UV-resistant and can endure high temperatures, these raised garden beds make for a neat place to grow your favourite crops.
6. A Galvanized Steel Raised Garden Bed
Highly resistant to corrosion, a hot-dipped galvanised steel raised garden bed, is great for any climate. The galvanised steel is also ideal for maintaining good condition of the soil and ensure proper water drainage.
7. A Resin Raised Garden Bed
A raised garden bed made from eco-friendly resin is a lowmaintenance option for your garden. These are also made to look remarkably like wood, giving you a great look but without any rotting or splintering.
Section 5: Different Sized Raised Garden Beds
The size of your raised garden bed will ultimately depend on you. However, there are some recommendations for easier and more comfortable gardening. The average size raised garden bed used by the majority of home gardeners is a 4- by 8-foot at a height of 12 inches.
Raised Garden Bed Width
You do not want to be walking through your bed to reach the middle if it is too wide as this will compact the soil. So, opt for a width that is manageable for you. On average, 4 feet (or 1 meter) wide is the most manageable size with which to work.
If your children are going to be helping you to grow your crops ensure that they are able to reach at least halfway into the middle of the bed, so there is no need for them to stomp your loose soil down and compact it.
Raised Garden Bed Length
When it comes to the length of your raised garden bed, you are not as limited as you are with its width. On average raised beds range from 8 to 25 feet in length.
The length of your bed will depend on how much you intend to plant. If you are just starting out, go for a smaller sized bed to allow you the chance to practise your gardening skills, before going all out on a large garden bed.
If you are planning to create a raised garden bed that is quite large in length, ensure that your side panels are well reinforced to prevent them from leaning or falling over.
A simple way to get around this problem is to build two or three smaller raised beds next to one another. This way you have the illusion of a long garden bed with the structural integrity of the shorter panels.
Raised Garden Bed Height
The height of your raised garden bed should suit the type of vegetables or herbs you want to plant. The average height of 12 inches works well for almost everything. Herbs and tomatoes grow well in a 6-inch high bed, while a 12-18-inch height is much more favourable for planting a variety of all sorts.
Your deep root vegetables like carrots and potatoes are much happier in an 18-inch-deep garden bed. A higher box height also means less distance to bend over to reach your plants.
Raised Garden Bed Material Size
When constructing your raised garden bed, you will have decided on the size you need. This will guide you in finding materials of the correct dimensions. If you are constructing a raised bed of the average dimensions (4’ x 8’ x 12”), you will need to ensure the materials will adequately cover these measurements.
Additionally, if you are building your garden bed from pine wood for example, your lumber will need to be at least 1-inch thick in order to withstand the force of your soil pushing up against the sides of your raised garden bed.
Section 6: What You’ll Need to Build Your Raised Garden Bed
With a wide variety of materials available and well-suited to building raised garden beds, you will need to think very carefully about what is best for your garden, your needs and your style.
The most common, traditional and cost-effective material for making a raised garden bed is wood. Woods like cedar and redwood are ideal for constructing raised garden beds, but be sure to check that they have not been preserved with toxic substances.
Wooden beds are easy to install and allow the gardener to build both traditional and more contemporary styles. It is pertinent to remember that wood will eventually need to be replaced since it is prone to rotting and splintering. If possible, look for rot-resistant wood products for longer lasting garden beds.
If a beautiful, elegant and smooth finish is what you are after, then opt for a cedar wood garden bed. This wood can be stained or painted to fit in with your existing garden and has a fairly long lifespan, of around 20 years. Cedar is ideal for your raised garden beds as it is free from chemicals and much of it is sustainably grown.
Bringing a beautiful colour to your garden, redwood is another chemical-free option for your raised garden beds. Redwood is a very elegant wood, with a 20+ year lifespan. The only downside to using redwood for your raised beds is that it can be expensive.
Offering a very long lifespan of over 50 years, juniper wood is a great option for your raised garden beds. Inexpensive and chemical-free, juniper wood is perfect for a more modern look and feel in your garden. It is also the recommended choice by many experts. If a rustic looking garden is what you are after, then juniper wood is probably going to be the best choice. This wood can be prone to movement, so be sure to reinforce it well if you intend on planting a lot of vertical-growing crops.
If you are aiming to create an eco-friendly garden, then using reclaimed wood is a great idea. Reclaimed wood ensures that used materials are kept out of landfills and waste streams. Reclaimed wood is great for creating a very rustic look for your raised beds, plus it is usually inexpensive too.
The only challenges you may experience with reclaimed wood is finding the right sizes, the presence of toxic additives is unknown and being of unknown origin may affect the durability of the wood.
Pressure Treated Wood
Pressure treated wood is another inexpensive option to build a raised garden bed. It is great for creating a rustic garden and keeps the material from becoming waste. However, this type of wood has usually been treated with chemical preservatives that will affect the quality of the soil and may even migrate into your food crops from the soil.
A high-density polyethylene plastic works well for raised garden beds since they prevent leaching and are extremely durable. If you opt for recycled plastic, this long-lasting option is then also environmentally-friendly. Despite being more expensive than wood options, plastic raised garden beds are very low on maintenance too.
Galvanised metal options provide your garden beds with a strong boundary that is easily maintainable. The only downside to metal options is that they can look less appealing than the traditional wooden raised garden beds. They can also be more difficult to assemble.
Other less popular options to build your raised garden bed includes: rocks, cinderblocks, concrete and bricks, logs, or masonry.
Section 7: The Perfect Soil Mixture For Filling Your Raised Garden Bed
By now, you should know that the quality of your soil is vitally important to the success of your crops. There is no perfect recipe for the best soil mixture, as this can differ between situations, climates and plants. Soil requires the right amount of water, air, nitrogen, minerals and nutrients to be beneficial to your plants.
You will also need to pay attention if the sand is more on the clay side or sandy side. Either extreme is not desirable and soil should be well-balanced between clay and sand for successful crop-growing.
The easiest way to obtain the perfect quality soil is to purchase good quality top soil and compost from your local garden center. Since trying to correct poor soil can be a huge task and end in numerous headaches, buying ready-to-use soil is much more convenient.
Soil is the most important component in your raised garden bed as it determines the results; the amount of yield per season, the nutritional value of your food produce, the taste of your home-grown vegetables as well as your crops immunity in fighting off pests.
Different crops also require different soil conditions to thrive. For example, tomatoes prefer their soil to be more acidic, root vegetables thrive best in a sandier soil, and greens require low nitrogen levels until germination occurs.
Ensure that your soil has a good balance of the following nutrients to keep your plants happy:
Nitrogen is a major soil component necessary for plants to grow. Nitrogen combined with sunlight produces sugars which feed the plant. This component is provided by composted manure, fish fertilizers, leguminous cover crops or alfalfa meal.
Another essential component for plants can be sourced from kelp meal and greensand. Potassium is necessary for a variety of plant functions including the all-important process of photosynthesis, to ensure the plant receives enough carbon dioxide.
Calcium is a secondary plant nutrient responsible for the development of cell walls in plants. Calcium for plants can be found in lime or gypsum as well as glacial rock dust which can also raise the pH of soil that is too acidic.
Phosphorus can be supplied by bone meal and rock phosphate and is important for normal plant growth as it aids processes like respiration, photosynthesis and many others.
Sulphur is the ingredient to add if your soil is too alkaline. Sulphur will slowly lower the soil’s pH level through the process of microbial action to reach a balance. Manure and fertilizers provide a great source of sulphur for plants.
Magnesium is another nutrient with a variety of functions in growing plants. Epsom salts will help to raise magnesium levels in the soil without affecting the soil’s pH. However, adding dolomite lime will raise both the soil’s pH and magnesium levels.
Section 8: How To Build A Raised Garden Bed
Building your own raised bed garden is an easy DIY project to complete in your home. Here are some simple steps to get you started.
1. Tools & Materials
Before you begin to gather the tools and materials you will need. This includes the side panels for your raised garden bed in your chosen material, whether it be wood, galvanized steel, concrete blocks or bricks. Ensure you have a medium to connect your panels, either nails, glue or cement.
Tools you will need may include a hammer, clamps, and a tape measure. If you are building a long garden bed, be sure to have reinforcement panels for the longer panels. Gardening tools like a shovel or fork and spades will also be needed.
2. Planning Your Garden Location
The location of your raised garden bed will depend on the layout of your existing garden. Your raised garden bed will need a flat area, otherwise you will need to create one, to ensure your raised bed will be level. Also consider where your irrigation will come from- you don’t want it to be out of reach of your hose.
Select a location that is not at a low-lying level where water can dam up. Your garden bed could become too soggy if it is in a wet, low-lying area.Another consideration to make is light. To take full advantage of the sun’s ray, a north-south orientation will be the most beneficial.
Avoid placing your raised bed underneath messy trees or in the shade of your house, to avoid any unnecessary shade during the day. Your plants need about 8 hours of full sun during the day, so plan your raised garden bed in the sunniest part of your yard.
3. Prepare Your Location
To prepare the location for your raised garden bed, remove any grass covering the ground and any weeds that may be present. Loosen the soil with a garden fork to a depth of about 6-10 inches to improve drainage and provide more room for root growth.
4. Adding Soil And Plants
Adding soil to your garden bed is quite a science. You want your plants to grow in the best environment, so a combination of topsoil, compost and a soilless growing mix, in quantities of 60%, 30% and 10% respectively.When it comes to planting your crops, plant vegetable that you like. You will be eating them after all.
Try and fill your garden space with as much as possible without overcrowding your garden bed to the detriment of your produce. An important point to consider is the effect a crop will have on its neighbour. You don’t want one plant to affect another’s growing space.
Ideally, you would like Mother Nature to provide your garden with the water it needs. However, with climate change rainfall can be unpredictable. Keep a rain gauge near your raised garden bed to monitor how much water your crops receive and will give you an idea of how much you will need to water, in addition to the rain.
Remember that different types of soil have different abilities for holding water. Clay soils hold more water, while sandy soils let water drain through quicker and loamy soils hold some water, while draining the rest.Ideally, your garden bed should receive about an inch of water every day to keep your crops alive and thriving.
During warmer weather you’ll need to water more than on cooler days as evaporation may remove some water from your garden bed. You can monitor the moisture levels in the soil by sticking your finger about 3 inches into the soil- it should be damp at this level.
Section 9: Plants To Plant In A Raised Garden Bed
There are a wide variety of vegetables and even fruit that you can plant in your raised garden bed. You should ideally plant the crops you enjoy eating and try experimenting with some new options too. These are some of the most popular options:
Raised garden beds are ideal for growing tomatoes as they require nutrient-rich soil to thrive. Raised garden beds make it extremely easy to customize the soil to suit the needs of your crops, allowing you to add more compost when and where necessary.
You may have some difficulty keeping tomato cages standing up straight in the loose soil. To overcome this, plant your tomatoes near a wall where you can prop the cages up to prevent them from falling over.
Another great option to plant in your raised garden beds is potatoes. They are one of the easiest plants to grow in a raised bed and are also much easier to harvest from these garden bed. Potatoes thrive in loose soil that drains easily, as well as having a lot of room to spread out, making a raised bed the perfect home.
The loose soil also prevents them from rotting, while giving you the opportunity to control the soil. Raised garden beds also allow potatoes to produce much higher yields than if they were planted in the ground.
Quick draining soil is a paradise for onions, coupled with a wealth of organic matter. They also require a long growing season. Raised garden beds are ideal for onions since the height of the soil means it warms up earlier in the spring and stays warm later into the fall, providing a long season for growing.
Plant the onions seeds ahead of your others crops to give them a head start since they will need up to 100 days to fully grow from seeds. Be sure to add plenty of compost to your garden bed to ensure your onions have all the nutrients they need.
4. Root Vegetables
With plenty of space to spread out in your raised garden bed, root vegetables such as beets, radishes, carrots and parsnips thrive in loose and rock-free soil. Having more control of the quality of the soil in a raised bed is very important when you are growing vegetables for the roots, since it is where they form. Any debris or rocks in the soil can obstruct the growth of your root vegetables.
5. Leafy Greens
Kale, spinach and lettuce are cool weather crops that perform incredibly well in raised garden beds. Just as with your onions, your leafy greens need to be planted early in the planting season to give them sufficient time to grow, and by the summer you will have a number of harvests.
The great drainage offered by raised garden beds is ideal for leafy greens since they hate having soggy roots. The raised bed drains much quicker, making it a better environment for your lettuces and spinach.
Strawberry plants are another great option for your raised garden bed, however they require some work. Strawberry plants bear fruit for three years but can continue to be productive since its stolons produce new strawberry plants to continue producing berries. A raised bed makes it easier to tend to and control your strawberry plants. The also look beautiful when your berries start spilling over the edge of your garden bed.
Section 10: How To Plant
What To Plant And When
When to plant in your raised garden bed will depend on the plants you choose. Some vegetables can withstand cooler weather, like broccoli and lettuce. On the other hand, most herbs and tomatoes will not survive the slightest drop in temperature moving into winter.
In general, the best time to plant in your raised garden bed is during the spring, to ensure your crops are ready for harvest during the summer and fall. Carrots should be planted mid-spring and should be ready for harvest by midsummer. Beets can be sowed every two weeks starting in late spring and can be harvested as they reach the size of golf balls well into the winter months.
It is advised that you only begin to plant temperature-sensitive plants once the danger of frost has passed. Plants like peas and spinach germinate well in cooler soils, while plants like melon and eggplant won’t germinate or grow properly if the soil is too cold.
Most crops are only planted once during a growing season, like tomatoes, squash, corn and peppers. On the other hand, other can be planted early in the season, harvested and planted again for a second harvest during the growing season, like root vegetables, leafy greens, beans and peas.
Before planting, do your research to determine the best conditions for your chosen crops.
After planting your seeds, you need to ensure the soil has the right amount of nutrients to grow healthy and tasty crops. Fertile soil with good drainage that receives regular compost enrichment supplies your plants with a great supply of nutrients. You need organic matter in the soil to provide these nutrients, which is why adding fertilizer in the form of organic compost to your soil on a regular basis is highly recommended.
The amount of fertilizer will depend on your climate and the types of plants you are growing. A soil test can help you identify what your soil needs to reach the right level of nutrients for your plants to thrive.
Tending to your raised garden bed is an easier task than your regular garden bed. Intensive planting means that weeds are kept to a minimum. You may only need to a little weed each week in the early spring, with no weeds to deal with in the summer. It is important to keep weeds (as well as other pests) out of your garden bed so that your crops are not competing for resources, ensuring they grow as desired.
Once your seeds have been planted, ensure that the area is thoroughly watered, to several inches in depth. The soil should be kept constantly moist in order for the seeds to germinate and develop into a young plant with a well-established set of leaves. Since seeds have a hard outer coating, which needs several days of soaking to soften and let the seedling emerge.
Raised garden beds do not dry out as quickly as regular beds, so watering is not necessary as often. The sides of your garden bed help to shade the soil and reduce evaporation, retaining moisture for longer. You may need to water slightly more during hot weather when evaporation is likely.
Section 11: Tips For A Raised Garden Bed
1. Test Your Soil
Before you start planting, test your soil to ensure is has all the right nutrients and the combination of sand and clay. Start with a planting mix and add compost to add the necessary nutrients, oxygen and water for your plants to thrive.
2. Don’t Walk On Around In The Bed
Walking on the soil will compact it and make it difficult for roots to grow. Plus, the best advantage of a raised bed is that you don’t need to walk through it, since it is at a good height you can walk around it and reach every section of the garden bed.
3. Keep The Width Narrow
Don’t make your raised bed to wide, or you won’t be able to reach the middle without walking into your garden bed. Keep your bed at a maximum of 4 feet (1 meter) wide.
4. Set Up Your Raised Garden Bed Right The First Time
Be sure to build your garden bed in the right area of your garden where there is enough sunlight. Use the best materials for your garden and climate and make sure the soil is of the best quality before planting your seeds of vegetable plants. Plan your bed before you start, it will be difficult to move it later if you decide another location will work better.
5. Leave Enough Room Between Beds
If you build more than one raised garden bed, make sure you leave enough room between beds for walkways. Rather build a few smaller beds than one big one.
6. Use Mulch
Adding a layer of mulch in the form of straw, grass, leaves or wood chips can help prevent weeds as well as keeping the soil of the garden beds moist.
7. Companion Planting
Plants similar plants together and vegetables that grow well together, like corn and cucumbers. Plant strong-smelling herbs next to carrots to deter carrot fly from smelling your carrot crop.
Make your own compost from kitchen waste and garden debris. Trench this into your garden beds to feed your crops with nutrients directly to the root. Try not to use too much commercial compost as it does not always provide the right quantities of nutrients.
9. Add Some Earthworms
Earthworms can help improve plant growth since they break down organic matter, aerate the soil and keep it loose. Additionally, they add extra nutrients from their digestive systems.
10. Prepare Your Location
Be sure to level the ground where you will build your raised garden bed. You must also till the ground first. This will give the roots extra room to grow. The level ground will also keep the added soil inside the sides of your raised garden bed.
11. High Enough
Ensure the sides of your garden bed are high enough for the types of vegetable you will be growing, especially if you are growing root vegetables. The higher the sides, the more protection your plants will have as well as more depth for the roots.
12. Use Trellises
If you plan to grow vertically-growing crops, invest in trellises for them to grow up. This will also make extra room in the bed for surface and below the surface crops.
Section 12: Maintenance Of Raised Garden Beds
While raised garden beds are popular because they require little to no maintenance, there are a few things you need to do to keep your raised garden bed in good shape. If you do some maintenance all year round, the work required can be kept to a minimum.
During the spring and summer months when your crops are germinating and growing, they are ultimately wearing down the soil, using up all the good nutrients available to them. Providing the soil with additional compost during the growing season can help to keep the soil in good condition for future growing seasons.
As temperatures drop, many plants die during the first frost or go dormant for the colder months of the year. Prevent disease and insect eggs from inhabiting the blackened stems and foliage, by clearing out the dead matter. This makes great material for your own organic compost pile.
Winter is also a great time to do any repairs on your raised garden bed or make any renovations.In the early fall, you can remove any mulch that is on top of the soil to help increase the temperature if the soil and lengthen your growing season as much as possible. You can add some organic fertilizer to the soil and cover again with compost to give the soil a boost of nutrients.
As the temperature drops further during late fall you can start preparing your garden bed for the winter. Remove any leftover plant matter from your past growing season, while leaving the roots in the soil. Add compost to the bed in order to bring the soil level back up to where you want it, and cover it with a non-woody mulch, such as shredded leaves or cover crop.
Cover Crops For Winter
Cover crops are also known as ‘green manure’ and keep the soil covered for the winter. This will protect your soil from exposure to cold and heavy winter rains. It also helps by increasing the soil’s capacity to hold water, as well as keeps weeds at bay, aerates the soil throughout winter, encourages earthworms to move in and some even increase nitrogen levels.
At the end of winter, the cover crops can be tilled into the soil a few weeks prior to your desired spring planting. This will allow the cover crop to dry out and even decompose a bit before you begin your growing season. If you prefer to maintain the soil structure, you can simply shear off the tops of the cover crop plants with a mower, pruners or a rake.
Allow them to dry out for a couple of weeks before planting. This will add some extra biomass to the garden bed and becomes part of the much-needed mulch.
When you are ready to start preparing your raised garden bed for the growing season, start by removing any mulch you have used to allow the soil to start warming up sooner, ready for planting. You can even just open up a few areas instead of removing the mulch completely.
Another technique to warm your beds is solarizing. This involves covering your garden bed with clear plastic sheeting for up to two weeks to kick star the warming process during late winter or early spring.
Get your soil ready for planting by adding some slow-release organic fertilizers followed by compost and mulch to the surface of your garden bed, and lightly till the top few inches.
The Growing Season
Spring, summer and fall make up the growing season for your vegetables, and also require minimal maintenance. If you have adequately looked after your garden bed during the winter, the only maintenance you will need to perform besides tending to your crops, includes adding enough fresh mulch to your garden bed.
Round-up And Conclusion
Raised garden beds are an ideal option for your garden no matter the size or location. They provide you with a great place to grow your own fruit and vegetables. Raised garden beds give you the advantage of better soil quality, as you can start off with your own top soil and compost to create the best environment for the crops you want to grow.
They also help to lengthen the growing season as the soil warms up quicker in the spring and stays warm later into the fall.
Raised garden beds make gardening much easier since they are higher off the ground. This also makes it more difficult for weeds and unwanted critter from getting into your garden beds. These raised beds are also popular for the way they can maximize limited space and provide great drainage for your vegetables.
Raised garden beds are extremely versatile in that you can use a wide variety of materials to build them as well as contrast it to the size you require. You can also give your raised bed the right height for the type of vegetables you want to grow. You could either buy a ready to construct kit or make it a DIY project and start from scratch.
There are a wide variety of vegetable and fruit options that you can plant in you raised garden bed. You can even plant a variety of plants together in the same bed to create a self-sustaining garden for you and your family.Lastly, raised bed gardens can be kept covered over winter, allowing you to have a head start come spring time. Raised garden beds can be built in any sized garden to suit your needs.