The Benefits of Raised Bed Gardening
Raised garden beds (also called garden boxes) are great for growing small plots of veggies and flowers. They keep pathway weeds from your garden soil, prevent soil compaction, provide good drainage, and serve as a barrier to pests such as rabbits, slugs and snails. The sides of the beds keep your valuable garden soil from eroding or washing away during heavy rains. In many regions, gardeners are able to plant earlier in the season because the soil is warmer and better drained when it is above ground level and easier to protect from late frosts. Raised beds are also ideal for square foot gardening.
The exciting answer is that you can grow just about anything in a raised garden bed as long as growing conditions such as sunlight, spacing, and temperature are on target for your plants.
Raised garden beds are excellent long-term investments that provide gardeners with a multitude of benefits. They give the gardeners some great benefits, lessening the need for bending, weeding, and they even provide the ideal warm and fertile environment for root systems to thrive for better growth.
Space Efficiency : Raised beds are fantastic for gardeners with limited garden space as they can easily be built on top of undesirable growing areas.
Enhanced Soil: You can control the soil quality in your raised garden beds as opposed to working with your ground soil which can be more difficult to amend.
Less Work: Gardening in raised garden beds, especially those elevated off of the ground, makes for less arduous work such as bending, weeding, watering, and harvesting.
Weed Control: If you put down cardboard and newspaper, then your soil, and top it with cardboard and mulch, you can significantly cut down on those pesky weeds in your raised beds.
Raised garden beds are available in a variety of different materials, or they can be made with relative ease.
Raised beds can be made from a variety of materials as shown in the picture at the beginning of this blog, they can be sourced in many ways. You can use just about anything to build a raised bed, but it is paramount that you do not use chemically treated materials for growing edibles. Rocks, metal, brick, untreated pallets, wood, cinderblock, mortared stone, and more all make great raised bed garden materials.
There are a few key points to keep in mind when embarking on the raised garden bed journey.
These pointers will help you on your way to growing strong and healthy plants that produce large harvests that are safe to consume.
Raised Bed Garden Planning
- Select an area of the yard that has full sun conditions for at least 6 to 8 hours, perhaps some afternoon shade if you want to grow shade loving greens.
- Ensure that your design allows you access to your garden beds for harvesting, weeding, and pruning.
- Raised beds should have at least 2 feet of walking space between them and be no wider than 4 feet across so you can easily reach the middle of the beds.
- Go vertical! Add trellises and obelisks, and connect beds with arched climbing structures. Use landscaper’s paint to ‘sketch’ out your raised garden beds’ layout before building them.
- Use upcycled materials and reclaimed wood to build your beds.
- Always check the source of the wood and make sure it hasn’t been chemically treated as chemicals can leach into your soil, contaminating your crops.
- Avoid pressure-treated wood.
- Make sure your raised beds are nice and deep.
- Extra soil depth equals freely extending roots as your plants grow and more moisture retention.
- Raised garden beds should be a minimum of 6 – 12 inches deep.
Gardens grow best when there are plenty of pollinators around, so plant with the intention to draw beneficial insects to the garden.
Here are some details of what kind of vegetables will grow in soil of a certain depth. You can increase the depth of your bed by preparing the soil beneath the bed.
What vegetables can grow in 12 inches of soil?
Vegetables: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Beetroot, Bok choy, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Carrot, Celery, Celeriac, Chinese cabbage, Corn, Endive, Fennel, Garlic, Ginger, Kohlrabi, Kale, Leeks, Lemongrass, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Onions, Potatoes, Radish, Rhubarb, Scallions, Shallots, Spinach.
What vegetables can grow in 6″ of soil?
Vegetables: Lettuce, Squash, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Carrots, Corn, Broccoli, Cabbage, Potatoes, Peppers, Asparagus, Asian Greens, Beans, Garlic, Onion, Peas, Radish, Shallots, Zucchini;
Herbs: Basil, Chervil, Chives, Cilantro (Coriander), Dill, Mint, Oregano, Spinach, Rosemary and Thyme;
And then there are those that need some depth to do well.
Is treated lumber safe?
In 2003, the EPA banned the sale of lumber treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA) for residential use. Two compounds, alkaline copper quat (ACQ) and copper azole (CA-B), have now replaced CCA wood in the residential market. Both contain copper and a fungicide but no arsenic. The copper keeps insects at bay, and the fungicide prevents soil fungus from attacking the wood. In ACQ, the fungicide is quat, which is also used in swimming-pool chemicals and as a disinfectant. The other compound, CA-B, uses copper and tebuconazole, a fungicide used on food crops. According to Miles McEvoy, who works in organic certification with the Washington State Department of Agriculture, no pressure-treated wood is allowed in soils used to grow organic food. If you want to meet this high standard, choose a different material.
Until the safety of treated wood is proven conclusively, we recommend you use a naturally rot-resistant wood like red cedar, black locust or redwood. Under most circumstances, these woods will last 10 – 20 years. Recycled composite plastic lumber is another alternative, and is now available in a variety of sizes and colors.
The information I’ve used here came from a free ebook
“Raised Bed Gardening Guide” made available on line at no cost by Kellogg Garden Products, the maker of a variety of Organic Soils that work well in the White Mountain area of Arizona and are sold locally.
To get the complete Kellogg Garden eBook on Raised Gardens: https://www.kellogggarden.com/raised-bed-gardening-guide/
I am in process of making a variety of Raised Garden Beds available on the webstore, Elevated Garden beds and even a vertical garden bed on wheels with it’s own watering system. There will soon be a walk in raised bed system with optional deer protection fencing on the perimeter. Most of these are made from western red cedar and come with a 5 year warranty. Just click Shop Raised Beds to check them out.