Are you thinking of implementing raised beds in your garden? Raised beds make it possible for physically limited or aging gardeners to enjoy their favorite pastime without injury. Here’s few things about raised bed gardening that make raised bed gardening even more productive and enjoyable.
Location is vital
Planning a raised bed garden is no different than planning a conventional one in some respects. One big difference is that it’s a lot harder to move a raised bed garden. You have to remove all the dirt, move the bed and prepare the ground underneath it every time. Therefore, placement is important.
If you’re planting vegetables, your beds should receive at least 6 hours of sun per day. You’ll also want your beds placed on high ground, for proper drainage. Knowing what you’re planting helps too. Some vegetables require more shade than others. Consider all factors before placing your beds. You don’t want to move them.
You’ll want to be sure you can reach your plants while gardening.
The ideal width is 3-4 feet, depending on your own comfort, arm length and limitations.
Length is not as important as the width. Use a board length that comes ready. This saves time, lumber and labor. You can usually find 12 inch wide boards in 8, 10 and 12 foot lengths.
The 12 inch height is perfect for raised beds. If you’d like them taller, simply make them two boards high.
Preparing the ground
The best thing to do, when placing raised beds, is to remove a layer of sod where the bed will be placed. Then, dig and loosen the soil to a depth of about a foot. Use lightweight landscape fabric stapled to the underside of the beds. This allows for drainage, while still blocking weeds. It also lets deep rooted plants spread their roots naturally. The roots going downward can easily puncture the fabric, while the leaves of the weeds growing upward have a harder time getting through.
Enhancing raised beds
Once your raised beds are in place, you may want to enhance them. For instance, if you plan to plant lettuce, there will be times when you’ll need a shade cover. You might want to add posts to the corners of the bed to secure a cover to. If your raised beds will contain vining plants, you could add some permanent trellis.
The best fertilizer by far is your own compost. When filling garden beds, use a planter’s mix from your local garden supply/greenhouse. A perfect raised bed planter’s mix contains half soil, half compost. The soil quality will vary, depending on the greenhouse. When shopping for garden bed soil, look for loose, dark dirt that balls slightly, then crumbles. If it holds a ball permanently, it likely contains too much clay. If it doesn’t ball at all, it doesn’t have enough.
Note: If affording good soil is an issue, try constructing the beds in fall and filling with small dead branches and leaves from fall clean up. By planting time, you’ll have some nice soil to plant in. The materials will continue to compost over the summer to automatically fertilize the garden.
Portions of this article were originally published by this author on a now closed Yahoo property.