Raised Bed Garden Construction - How To Build a Raised Garden Bed
Advantages of Raised Garden Beds
Raised bed gardens are one of the best choices for gardening in many places. They can be used not only for vegetable gardening, but flower gardening as well and other specialty gardening like growing strawberries. We take a look at the advantages of raised bed gardening and include some videos on building raised beds.
A garden raised off the ground should have easy access for all sides. You will see many community gardens using the raised bed approach. This has a very eye-pleasing appeal with a neat and organized look to it. Whether you have two small raised beds or thirty - your garden will look nice and neat.
Weeding Is Easier
With a raised bed garden, you can do a much better job of keeping local grasses out of the garden. Some of the aggressive Southern grasses like St. Augustine and Bermuda grasses spread with runners that can jump many barriers, and simple hoeing will not keep this type of grass controlled outside your garden. With a raised side, the grass will have a much tougher time jumping the "wall."
Irrigation Is Easier
One of the big advantages of raised bed gardening is the ability to direct your irrigation just where it's needed and not waste a lot of your water in the walkways between beds. Furthermore, you can more easily manage the drainage of a raised bed, and aren't bothered by low spots and puddling nearly as much. In addition, if you decide you want to add an irrigation system, that is much easier in raised beds as well. You can also shape the bed slightly to improve either the runoff or the retention of water.
Easy Access - All Four Sides
For gardeners who have some limited mobility and can't bend to garden in a traditional garden, or those confined to a wheelchair, a raised bed garden might be the only real way for them to have enough access to garden. Someone with a weak or bad back can sit on a garden scooter and access the raised bed much easier than at ground level. Not to mention having their tools right underneath your rear end!
Your soil can be amended or replaced completely in these beds. It also enables you to eliminate soil borne diseases and improve the ability to hold an appropriate amount of moisture.
Raised Bed Corners
Construction of a Raised Garden Bed
This video describe the planning and construction of a raised garden bed quite thoroughly.
It suggests placement ideas, including getting an adequate amount of sun, and avoiding locations given to frost.
It also talks about construction materials for the bed, including the type of wood (if you choose to use wooden walls) and also using cinder blocks or other materials as well. Sizing the bed for easy access is discussed. Included are suggestions for brackets that hold the garden walls in place. One cost effective way to build these beds is to use plastic forms that look like timber. They are not very expensive but last much longer than many types of lumber.
Another way to save money is to simply use your own lumber but to buy raised bed corners to finish it off, as most of the work in building a raised bed is in the assembly of the corners.
Soil mixture that works well for your garden that build on the advantages of your bed. Go heavy on the organic components like compost. If you do not have your own compost pile, you may want to consider a special mix that doesn't use a lot of soil. One popular choice is to use 1/3 peat, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 compost, which creates a soil that retains moisture well.
Square Foot Gardening
What to Plant In your Raised Bed?
First off, make sure you check the frost dates in your area of the country (or world!). We like to eek out a few extra weeks before the frost date but you should be ready to cover the garden if you take this risk. In our area of the country there are several cold weather crops that must be planted early in order to harvest before the June heat arrives because they just will not grow or taste good. Another factor to consider is how frozen your ground may be even if you are near or around the frost date. Use common sense too.
When planting time has finally arrived, keep in mind that the spacings between the plants in a raised garden bed will be closer than the traditional suggested measurements, which means you will get better yields of the vegetables you plan on growing. This is an excellent use of space as opposed to traditional rows for larger crops, like broccoli and cabbage.
If you are new to gardening, we suggest you start with something simple and fast-growing like radishes and lettuce. These will work very well if you choose the square-foot gardening method of planting which lays out the beds in squares and guides you on the exact planting space. For instance, you can center a tomato plant in the middle of four surrounding rows of radishes and lettuce with some onions around the square edge. Voila! You have a salad!
You have no limits, remember to check the frost dates in your area and plant what you like to eat. Of course flowers are also the choice of some gardeners either alone in a bed or mixed in with vegetables.
There are a few disadvantages to consider for your raised bed kits. You need to be careful in the selection of the materials for the walls, you want something that will last like cedar, but generally it is not advisable to use pressure treated lumber as it can have some pretty toxic chemicals acting as the preservative.
Also, you cannot use a full sized rototiller easily in one of these beds, but there are some mini-tillers that churn up the soil and are battery powered so you can still work your soil efficiently. Our Troy-Bilt edger has several tool attachments and one of them is a mini-cultivator that works like a charm for small spaces.