Monday, May 29, 2023
Thirsty Gardener

Raise Your Gardening Standards


Maybe you think you don't have enough room in your yard to grow a substantial vegetable crop this year - bet you haven't thought about raised beds.  You can grow enough veggies to feed your family and the neighborhood  with just a few raised beds. You can place them where you want them, without regard to soil conditions, because raised beds allow you to start with the type of soil most beneficial to the plants that grow in them. They also make gardening easier for all generations and can ease the strain of gardening with physical limitations.

The neat appearance of raised beds especially recommends them for vegetable, herb and cutting gardens. They corral the sometimes messy look these types of gardens foster.  Raised beds are easy to build or you can appropriate other containers and raise them to a gardening level that doesn't make you groan while you plant.

Any raised bed should be at least 6 inches deep to accommodate plants and their root systems.  This dimension lends itself well to raised beds made out of 2" x 8" boards.  You can place soil inside of a bed that height; it will give you enough depth and still leave room so that soil and water don't spill over.  If you want a deeper bed, make two or three and stack them.

Hardware shops and big-box stores have plastic or metal corner brackets that screw together easily to hold the planks.  You might need a mallet to cap them. If you have the tools you need, it shouldn't cost you more than $50 for the planks and corner  pieces.

If you don't feel that handy, you can make a raised bed out of a water trough or other large container securely balanced on bricks or blocks. Stacked-brick, no-masonry raised beds or terracotta containers will dry out faster than other types, so line them with sphagnum moss or peat moss for better water retention. 

Do not make the raised bed any wider than 8' across or you won't be able to reach the middle to plant and harvest.

How you configure raised beds is what makes them high producers. The more beds you can fit into your full-sun space, the more produce you can grow. If you're growing for extended family, the neighborhood or a food bank, try to fit in as many as you can. Some store-ready containers have stacked, hexagonal configurations with smaller footprints that allow you to grow more in a confined space. You can also place them under the portal to grow shade-loving plants and herbs.

And raised beds are ideal for a garden you want to showcase, like a moon garden you can easily view at twilight.

When trees mature and light conditions change, you can transport raised beds to shadier or sunnier spots as your growing needs change. You'll be happy you had the forethought to put in a raised bed instead of digging a permanent garden.


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