If you are planning to start a garden, a few good raised garden beds how-to’s will help you get started on the right path to successfully raising a healthy crop of vegetables and herbs in a compact amount of space.
Raised garden beds can be used by anyone – by people with lots of land and open space; ones who live in a small apartment with a patio, balcony, or roof access; and pretty much everyone else who falls in between these two categories.
They are pretty simple to make too – you can construct a raised garden bed from wood. You can also use cinder blocks or stone slabs, but these options may actually end up costing you more money.
There are many reasons why people prefer raised garden beds to conventional “in-ground” gardening. The list is pretty long, but here are a few good examples of why raised beds are a better choice:
- Soil: You don’t have to worry if you have poor-quality soil (or none at all) in your backyard. With above-ground vegetable gardens, you can buy whatever soil you want, or even create your own special mix that provides an optimum growing environment for your plants. For example, certain vegetables and herbs are finicky about the pH levels of the soil they are in. This may be a problem if you have to bring in a lot of dirt or fertilizer to change the pH of your entire garden, but with a smaller bed you can simply change the pH of that one area, and then group together all the plants that like that particular level of acidity.
- Weeds: You will be surprised how few weeds you will get in a raised garden bed. With ordinary gardening, weeds often have deep roots and sprout up between your vegetables all season long! They can shoot off their roots sideways underground, and if you pull them out, you may still have a root left under the surface that will just end up growing again, and stealing nutrients from your veggies. With raised beds, the soil is pure, so there are no hidden surprises.
- Drainage: Raised vegetable beds drain better, so the roots of your above-ground vegetables won’t rot in standing water, and underground vegetables will remain healthy and well-maintained.
- Temperature: When planting a garden in late fall or early spring months, there is a risk of temperature dipping below freezing during the initial planting stages; this can destroy the seeds or damage future crops. Raised vegetable beds are above ground, so they will stay a bit warmer than the ground itself, which helps with preserving your seeds in case of unpredictable weather changes.
- Comfortable Work Environment: Some people have a tough time kneeling, straining their back or other muscles and joints, or standing in a bent-over position for long periods of time. Raised beds solve this gardening issue because they can be placed at any height, and be easily accessible from a comfortable position – even from a wheelchair!
- Space: If you only have as much as one square foot of space available for a garden, or if you have an oddly-shaped nook, you can build a raised garden bed to fit its shape and size – however large, small, or oddly shaped it may be!
- Good Organization: Gardening beds are easy to arrange, and even move around if necessary (if you were to move to a different house, for instance). You can lay out your garden however you like! In addition, gardening beds provide ease of access, which ensures that you are not stepping all over your harvest as you move around your fresh vegetable patches. This particularly applies to beans, strawberries, and other plants that like to hog the ground. You can pick your vegetables and berries without accidentally crushing or stomping on them.
- Higher Yield: Since vegetables in raised garden beds are planted close together, you can expect a higher harvest yield than you would normally get from the same amount of land in a regular garden. This makes it easier to care for, too, since you don’t have to run all over the place trying to take care of all your vegetables. Having a dense amount of crop in a small area has gotten many people excited about gardening and producing their own organic veggies, berries, and herbs.
You can grow a variety of vegetables in your new garden – it can really be anything, just keep in mind that some plants (like cabbage) stay close to the ground and take up a lot of space, while others (like corn, tomatoes), grow upward away from the ground, and take less space. Besides spacing your vegetables just right, you also have to keep in mind the different harvesting times of each plant, so that you know how much room you will have throughout the season. In addition to vegetables, you can also grow berries, flowers and herbs in a raised bed.
Other important raised garden beds “how-to’s” involve seasonal maintenance and care. This can include watering, fertilization, pest control, protection from wild and domestic animals, and so on. One thing is for sure – it is a lot easier to care for a small raised bed garden versus trying to do everything on a larger, sparsely covered piece of land. A simple trick like planting a specific “companion plant” to repel certain types of pests in your garden can be a great addition to your raised veggie bed.
Your first raised gardening bed with take a little bit of work and planning, but once it’s set – you can enjoy the fruits (and vegetables!) of your labor for years to come. After the initial set up process, it really takes very little maintenance to keep your garden growing year after year.
These first few pointers and how-to’s of raised garden beds should set you well on your way to starting your own garden, even if it is just one square foot big. You will see that the taste of store-bought items don’t even come close to your own, freshly picked vegetables! Not only will you know what went into their production, but you will also enjoy them at their best – when they are ripe, juicy, and full of vitamins! (And say good-bye to waxy, unripened, tasteless store-bough vegetables…)
In addition to all other benefits, starting a garden is also a great way to relax, get out in the sun, get some vitamin D in your system, and even get back in touch with nature. There are certainly tons of advantages to having your own raised gardening beds – all you have to do it get started!