Raised Bed Gardening Tips

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What Is a Raised Bed Garden? 

Raised bed gardening is a form of gardening technique that involves the soil to be enclosed in three-to-four feet containment units. The units are usually made of wood, rock, concrete, or any material that can be lengthy and sturdy to hold a garden. In a raised bed garden, the soil is raised higher than the surrounding soil.

Raised bed gardens are box-shaped gardens with no bottom or top, as such. The raised containment frame is filled with soil, compost and seeds, and planted within. Raised bed gardens are occasionally the centerpiece of a much larger garden, as they attract more attention.

raised bed gardening tips
girl taking a picture of a raised bed garden

Benefits of a Raised Bed Garden

There are many benefits of raised bed gardens. Here are a few listed down below:

  • More vegetation in less space. An advantage of a raised bed garden is the limited space available. By studying small-space gardening techniques such as succession planting and vertical support, more vegetable seeds can be planted at a close distance to each other. This way you won’t compromise on the limited space, and make the most of each inch available.
  • Less cleaning. Since raised bed gardens include densely planted vegetables, there is little room for weeds to grow. Hence, you will require less cleaning once your batch of plants are harvested, and a new one is needed to be planted. Fewer weeds are also easier to pull out, compared to those whose roots grow extensively and disrupt growth processes.
  • Easy pest control. Large vegetable gardens are more prone to insects and pests that hinder plants from growing to their optimal level. Raised bed gardens allow you to control pests easily and keep track of all the plants at once. You can also cover the small-sized garden with specialized covers to stop pests from entering.
  • Plant anywhere. Raised bed gardens can be created anywhere. From your backyard to the front yard, or even in the middle of your existing garden – raised bed gardens are incredibly flexible with regards to location. They can also be used solely for flowers, or growing organic vegetables as a source of healthy food.

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How Do You Build a Raised Bed Garden?

Depending on the materials you use, and how big you’d like your garden to be, there are multiple ways to build a raised bed garden. We’ve listed down the steps of building a small-scale vegetable garden for beginners. Make sure to follow the guide and modify each step based on your requirements:

Materials Needed

  • Four 1 inch x 12-inch boards
  • 4-inch x 4-inch posts
  • Screws for wood
  • Topsoil
  • Plants of your choice
  • Water source
  • Soil amendments

Step-By-Step Guide

  1. Select a location that has approximately eight hours of direct sunlight. Make sure the site has a water location near it and a well-managed drainage system in the surrounding areas.
  2. Place the four 1 x 12 boards so you form a square-shaped box. Mark the outline of the box and remove the wooden boards. Now, create a one-inch hole in each corner and place the 4 x 4 posts there. Backfill the soil and firmly press down so the posts are stabilized. Reinstall the 1 x 12 boards and grip them together with the posts using wooden screws or nails.
  3. Use a spade and dig the soil inside the frame at a depth of 12 inches in the ground. This depth is not only necessary for vegetable roots, but also a proper drainage system for rainfall and irrigation.
  4. Mix the topsoil with the soil amendments such as manure together and add them inside the frame. Rake the soil smoothly and make sure it is spread out in all areas inside the frame. This soil is one of the most critical aspects of raised bed gardening as the nutrients in it provide good drainage. As a result, your raised bed garden will allow plants and vegetables to flourish.
  5. Depending on the time of the area, select your plants according to winter or summer temperatures. Lay them evenly inside the frame and dig deep holes for each root. Backfill the soil and make sure your plants receive plenty of water. Now watch as your raised bed garden flourishes with color and plenty of vegetation and flowers.
raised bed gardening tips
raised bed garden

Expert Raised Bed Gardening Tips

It may be easy to build your raised garden bed, but it is always important to consider some important factors. From the type of plants you need to the soil of your choice, we’ve listed down raised bed gardening tips for you:

Start With Simple Herbs

With limited space, many new gardeners are in the habit of cramming many plants and vegetables within the frames present. If you are new to gardening or have never worked on a raised bed garden before, you might want to start small and pick simple herbs to understand the overall process first.

Tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers may seem like tempting plants to start with, but they also require extra care and work. They also require certain amounts of water so the soil around them remains moist, and not too dry at the same time.

Some plants that have a good lifespan are perennial herbs. Examples such as thyme and mint are extremely simple to grow and give you more time to understand the growing process altogether.

Understand Your Plants

If you’re ready to take up more challenging plants that require constant care and attention, it is more than just feeding your plants and looking after them. It is essentially about the need of each particular plant and then understanding how they would survive in your raised bed garden.

Do some research and ask yourself some questions. Examples include, how much sunlight does my raised bed garden receive throughout the day? Does the soil need any sort of amendments? Do I require an alternative water resource? Questions like these allow you to analyze the types of plants you should be growing and those that will flourish the most in your raised bed garden.

Leafier Vegetables for Shadier Areas

If your raised bed garden has some areas of shade, you can always work around that. Experts say that any plant that comprises large, green leaves survives well under low sunlight. Hence, plants such as kale, lettuce, and spinach are good examples for shaded areas, compared to those plants that have smaller leaves.

Pick the Right Soil

It is always recommended to use a soil mix that comprises several nutrients. Even though backyard soil can be used, it is better to avoid it because you might be unaware of the contaminations it includes.

A good soil combination is known as ‘triple mix.’ This includes products such as manure, sand, perlite, or vermiculite mixed into the soil for added nutrients. An advantage of such a soil is that you won’t need to add anything else for soil amendments, and the mixture can be used just the way it is.

Pair Your Plants Well

Some plants do not grow well when paired with a particular plant family. Due to this, the idea of ‘companion plants’ has been floating for quite some time which indicates certain plants that mix well with their partners, while others that do not.

For example, studies have shown that tomatoes and beans do not mix well together, and hinder each other’s growth cycles for two years if they are planted in the same area.

Contrastingly, onion families prefer to be paired with tomato families. Onion plantations protect the tomato plants from small insects and grow well together. Furthermore, a combination of beans and broccoli is also highly recommended. They bloom well together and sprout to their optimal level.

Make Use of Mulch

To safeguard moisture and prevent weeds from growing in the small-sized garden bed, mulch is an excellent option for this. Mulch can take up to four to six months to decompose, while continuously adding nutrients in the soil and preventing weeds from growing any further.

You can make use of mulch at any time of the year. Whether it is fall season when the raised bed garden isn’t as green as the other months, or in spring when the garden bed is packed – mulching will only help with soil amendments and allow plants to grow more freely.

Go For It

Depending upon how much time you have on your hands for your raised garden bed, you should still dedicate a couple of minutes of your day to take care of your plants. No matter how busy you are, everyone can grow blooming flowers, or organic vegetables to consume for dinner at home.

As long as you have the right place and right time established, 50 percent of your work is already complete. Now you only require motivation and the willpower to set up your raised garden beds, pick your vegetables, and begin planting. It’s all about making mistakes, yet learning along the way.

Common Raised Bed Gardening Mistakes

Once you’ve learned how to create your frame and considered the raised bed gardening tips mentioned above, you can avoid some common mistakes occasionally made by gardeners:

  1. Raised beds are too wide. An advantage of raised bed gardens is avoiding soil compaction. This means that you can work and take care of your plants without stepping on the surrounding soil, allowing it to remain healthy and the plants to grow to their full capacity. However, if your raised beds are too wide, you may not be able to work on all sides of the garden bed. This way, you might need to step on the soil, breaking away from the primary purpose of the raised bed in the first place.
  2. No irrigation plan. If you’ve set up your frame, but have no plans about irrigation and watering systems, you might want to think fast. Most people believe they can work with watering cans, however, the system gets tiresome for a gardener way too quickly. Due to this, it is recommended to place raised beds near a common water source and set up a deep irrigation system so the soil remains moist at all times.
  3. Raised bed frames placed too close with one another. If you are planning to install two or three raised bed gardens, the distance between them is essential. Most people forget this tip and often leave no room between two or three garden beds lined up together. Place your raised bed at such a distance to make sure there is ample walking space, and a wheelbarrow filled with plant pots can also pass through.
  4. Wrong material used. Building frames for your raised bed garden does not require any sort of wood. Research shows that pressure-treated wood manufactured before 2003 contain mixtures of copper-arsenate that are hazardous for edible vegetables grown in a garden. Many people prefer to use chemical-free lumber such as cedar or redwood, but those come with a slightly higher cost. You can always reuse wood that was used previously, for example, an old fence that is being taken down. This will save costs and ensure you are using the correct materials.

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The Key Takeaway

Raised beds provide several benefits. From reducing the amount of weed and having more control over your small-sized garden beds, they are highly recommended by gardening experts out there. As long as you consider these raised bed gardening tips, you are bound to watch your garden bed flourish within no time. If you are new to gardening, remember, remain consistent, and allow yourself to make mistakes. You could always take help from an expert during the process as well.