November 23, 2017

Spring Gardening: Raised Beds

It seems like there are as many methods of gardening as there are varieties of plants to grow, so that a new gardener might feel overwhelmed at the idea of starting his or her first garden.  One gardening method that has recently grown in popularity among home gardeners is the use of raised beds.  There are a lot of benefits to this easy type of gardening!

raised bed gardening

A raised bed is typically enclosed by wood or stone borders and filled in with quality soil and compost.  Rather than digging out a garden plot, turning the soil, fertilizing, planting, watering, and weeding throughout the season, you begin by building a raised bed and filling it in.  This is particularly useful if your native soil is of poor quality.  Because you fill the bed with rich soil, you know your plants are growing in an ideal spot.

Starting a raised bed can be simple or a bit more complex.  After choosing a sunny location for your garden, build the raised bed out of wood planks or even cinder blocks.  The higher the garden, the less you have to bend and stoop to pull the occasional weed or pick your veggies.  You can find plenty of directions online for building a raised bed out of wood.  Another option is to use cinder blocks.  You want your raised bed to be narrow enough to allow you to tend to your plants without stepping into bed itself, about four feet across.  For a larger gardening area, build additional raised beds to accommodate all of the plants you intends to grow.

raised bed gardening 2

raised bed gardening 1

Next, line the bottom of the raised bed with newspapers and wet them down thoroughly with a hose.  This will kill grass and weeds at the bottom of the bed and prevent new weeds from growing into your garden.  Fill in the raised bed with quality soil and compost, mix well, and top with an inch or two of mulch to discourage weeds.  Now you’re ready to plant!

raised bed gardening 4

raised bed gardening 3

If you’re new to gardening, visit a local garden supply center and ask for guidance in choosing plants that will grow well in your area.  Tomatoes, zucchini, beans, cucumbers, and herbs such as basil, parsley, and oregano are often good choices to start with.  Using trellises to support tomatoes and beans is usually recommended and adds to the beauty of your garden.  Plant taller plants in the back of the raised bed with shorter plants, such as lettuces, at the front.  This allows each plant to get enough sun while maximizing space.

raised bed gardens

Also, be sure leave enough room to easily move around the entire raised bed.  You want to avoid one side of the bed being too close to the house, another bed, or any other obstacle, to prevent you from working around the bed with a wheelbarrow.

While raised beds require a bit of effort to set up, the benefits during the growing season are fantastic.  In addition to less risk of invasive weeds, a raised bed makes it easier to keep grass from encroaching on your garden.  It’s gentler on your back as you tend to the plants throughout the season and presents a clean, organized look.  Rabbits, moles, and other small animals are less likely to bother your plants in a raised bed and, because there’s no foot traffic in your garden to compact the soil, you don’t need to till the ground each spring.

This is the perfect time to year to begin working on your vegetable or flower gardens, and raised beds may be just the thing you need to garden successfully!

 

 

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