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Gardening Made Easy: Raised Beds

3 min read | Dec 13, 2012 | Plants  Resources 

Tired of battling against poor soil that won’t drain? Is your soil so hard that you need a jackhammer to get through it? Maybe lack of space is the problem? If any of these sound familiar, a raised garden may be the answer for you. A raised garden is built on top of your native soil. Raised gardens are very versatile as you can plant vegetables, herbs, annuals and perennials in them.

Raised Garden Advantages

There are many advantages of raised gardening over traditional gardens:

– You have complete control of the soil mixture. It is easy to tailor the soil for the plants you intend to grow.

– You can improve the soil drainage for your plants. Simply raising your garden bed six to eight inches above the ground level can greatly improve overall drainage.

– Because raised beds are designed so that you don’t have to actually step into them, the soil does not get compacted eliminating the need to till.

– You can produce large quantities of fruits and vegetables in the same amount of space you would use in a traditional garden plot.

– Garden maintenance is easy with raised beds. You can quickly remove weeds and control pests in your raised bed.

– Rodents and pests that like to eat your veggies will have a harder time reaching the plants in a raised bed.

– Crop rotation (which can help prevent diseases that may form in the soil over time) is relatively painless with raised beds.

– Watering is easy with raised beds (and more efficient) because you only water where the plants are growing and not the walking spaces that appear between rows in a traditional garden. You can grow your plants closer together which helps shade the soil and reduce evaporation.

– Raised beds also increase your growing season. The soil actually warms up quicker in the spring and stays warmer longer in the fall. They are easier to cover with plastic, just in case we can an unexpected frosty night.

Making or Buying a Raised Garden Frame

There are several choices of materials you can use to construct your raised bed. Wood is the most common choice, because it is easy to work with and is relatively inexpensive (never use treated wood!). Concrete blocks, natural stone or brick are also options, but these can get quite expensive as well as labor intensive.

Or you can opt for a faster, more convenient option with a raised garden kit. Raised bed kits include everything you need to construct your raised bed. I am very happy to say thatFairviewGardenCenterwill be carrying two different styles and sizes of raised bed garden kits this spring. One is made of cedar that is harvested from certified sustainable forests and stained with eco-friendly water-based stain. No chemicals and it assembles in minutes; the wood is precut, no tools or hardware are needed. This kit measures 4’ x 6’ x 9’.

The second one measures 42.5” x 42.5” x 6”. It is ideal for people who live in apartments or condos that have a small patio or balcony. It is made from weather resistant composites and eco-friendly recycled wood flour. Multiple kits can be joined together to create larger, taller gardens. Once assembled, all you need to do is add the soil and the plants.

Speaking of Soil!
What is the best soil mix? There are lots of choices. Mel Bartholomew, creator of the square foot gardening method, uses three components in his raised bed soil. Mel’s soil is 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat and 1/3 vermiculite. Peat and vermiculite provide excellent moisture-holding capacity. Here are a couple more options:

– 1/3 topsoil, 1/3 peat and 1/3 compost
– 1/4 toposil, 1/4 peat, 1/4 vermiculite and 1/4 compost

The choice is yours.Fairviewcarries a great selection of soils, compost, peat and vermiculite. So come see us and we’ll help you get started!

Happy Gardening!
Cindy K.
FairviewGreenhouses & GardenCenter