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Growing Vegetables in a Raised Bed Garden Guide

Updated on December 27, 2014

How to Create Beautiful and Productive Organic Vegetable Garden

Traditional vegetable gardens, when well tended, are things of beauty. Unfortunately, few people have the time and energy to keep one of these gardens neat and tidy, and when left to fend for themselves they become eyesores as well as suffering a great reduction in productivity.

Here we are going to discuss the raised bed gardening as a solution for many gardeners. Raised bed gardens take up less space as well as requiring less maintenance. They fit in better with todayĆ¢s modern backyard. Instead of a garden off to the side or way in the back of a property, raised beds incorporated into an area where a family plays and entertains. Flowerbeds, vegetable beds, patio, and grilling area work well intermingled.

What is Raised Bed Gardening

Why Should You Consider this Type of Garden

A resurgence of interest in gardening is occurring as people feel the need to be more self-reliant and are taking the safety of their food more seriously. People who might never have considered vegetable gardening before are looking at raised bed gardening and thinking it may be right for them.

Growing vegetables in raised beds is definitely a worthwhile idea for those who want to re-take control over some of their food production. The use of raised beds lengthens the growing season, causes less back strain and increases productivity when compared to a traditional garden but there are pit falls to avoid.

Having been there, I know the benefits and the obstacles of growing vegetables in a raised bed. Experience is the best teacher but there is no rule that it has to be personal experience; let me give you the benefit of my experience. I have grown vegetables both ways and, although I have a nostalgic feeling for the old-fashioned gardens of my younger days, there is no way I would trade my raised bed garden for one of them.

Useful and Comprehensive Raised Bed Gardening Guides

Here I would like to recommend my favorite books on the topic. All of them are very useful and comprehensive guides. All these authors are well-known and respectable raised bed gardening enthusiasts. With the help of these books I've created my wonderful vegetable garden. I strongly recommend you to read at least one of them if you are interested in vegetable gardening.

Raised Bed Gardening - low cost, high yield and simply done
Raised Bed Gardening - low cost, high yield and simply done

There are not many colorful images inside this book, but a lot of useful tips on raised bed gardening.

 

Benefits of Growing Vegetables in a Raised Bed Garden

The advantages of a raised bed garden are many. Here is a list of what pluses a raised bed brings to growing vegetables.

- Early Spring Start - Raised beds warm up more quickly and can be tented to create a mini-greenhouse.

- Convenience - Less bending required plus these beds are usually closer to the house than a regular garden.

- Improved Drainage - Because the garden is raised excess water is able to drain out more quickly avoiding the danger of rotting roots.

- Less Weeding - Weeds are easier to pull because the soil in the bed remains loose. Warning: Plants can be pulled up easier as well. By using mulch weeds will be fewer as time passes.

- Larger Harvest - Fewer weeds to use up nutrients and nice loose soil combine to increase the productivity of a raised bed garden. Moreover, a raised bed garden does not waste space between rows clearing out weeds. This means there is more space for vegetables, about twice the amount grown in the same amount of space as opposed to a traditional garden.

- Extended Growing Season - In addition to getting a jump on spring planting a raised bed can extend the growing season in the fall by providing a framework to tent the garden and keep in the day's heat.

Rased Garden Bed Kits

Instead of finding appropriate materials and building beds from scratch, you can buy garden beds that are ready for installation in your garden. You can find raised beds any shapes and any sizes.

Here some of them that I used in my garden. I did a lot of experimenting with the beds size and the size of 72x24x16 worked the best for me.

Rectangle Cedar Raised Garden Bed Kit, 24 by 72 by 16.5-inch height
Rectangle Cedar Raised Garden Bed Kit, 24 by 72 by 16.5-inch height

This one is natural cedar. It is treated with water protection that is safe for vegetables

 

What Obstacles You May Encounter

Raised bed gardening provides the best way to grow vegetables for your home but it is not perfect. So let us take off the rose-colored glasses and look at the obstacles you will encounter and the pit-falls you will need to avoid.

- Set-up - The initial work of setting up a raised bed garden can be considerable.

- Vegetable Choices - Not all vegetables are suitable for this sort of garden. Tall plants can present a problem because the loose soil can prevent the plants from retaining a good grip on the garden. In windy conditions, they can blow over. Staking or using trellises help but only if the supports are outside the bed.

- Harvest - Special care must be taken when harvesting vegetables out of a raised bed. It is easy to accidentally pull up your plants when you go to pick your tomatoes, peppers or other vegetables.

Despite these shortcomings a raised bed garden is the most convenient and productive use of land for growing vegetables and the easiest method of growing food to blend into our daily lives.

Places to Order High Quality Vegetable Seeds

Even if you use transplants for your vegetable garden, it is advisable to sow some seeds for a few plants, such as lettuce or radishes. It will not cost you much because seeds are cheap, and it is wonderful experience to see the plant's whole life cycle.

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You Tube Raised Bed Gardening Guide

What you are Going to do With Your Harvest?

So, you've got your harvest. You worked hard. Now, it is the time to make it work for your health.

The benefits of vegetables for your body usually show by keeping your internal systems in great condition and by improving your overall health. The eating of vegetables will improve your digestive system, and blood pressure levels. With a vegetable diet, you will successfully keep away many diseases.
Vegetables will also help to control your weight and develop healthy hair and skin.

So, you can cook your vegetables or you can juice them and both ways will greatly benefit your body.

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    • profile image

      twodawgs 2 years ago

      Raised garden beds are way better in confined areas. I had a small strip of land (about 8'x16') in my backyard I used for row gardening, and never had more than a couple of tomato plants, and a few green beans and herbs.

      Last fall, I converted that into 3 4'x4' raised beds (used the square foot layout), and was amazed to find how much more you could grow in that amount of space! Now I've got space for spinach, lettuce, green beans, cabbage, cucumbers, zucchini, kale, carrots, onions, and I've got more space I still need to figure out what I want to do with.

      I love how much tidier and physically accessible it is.

      (I grow my tomatoes in sub-irrigating containers on the patio now.)

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 3 years ago from Lakewood New York

      Thanks for sharing all of your knowledge, I've been considering a raised bed garden but have not taken the time to plan what I would like to do. Thanks this really helps :)

    • rking96 profile image

      Rick King 3 years ago from Charleston, SC

      I have wanted to do something like this for a while. The book you have listed about stand-up gardening looks very interesting. It seems like the cost for start-up is in the hundreds of dollars. Is there a way to get started for less?

    • Julia Cussler profile image
      Author

      Julia Cussler 4 years ago

      @hntrssthmpsn: If you have hard clay soil in your backyard, the best approach is raised beds gardening. You should also have enough space for them too. Rich gardening soil is not expensive, and also you can easily create your own soil by putting in garden bed layers of lucerne hay, manure, hay again, and 2 inches of compost.

    • hntrssthmpsn profile image

      hntrssthmpsn 4 years ago

      We have a small raised bed and a lot of containers, and enjoy both approaches. Until our current home, we were always in-ground gardeners. This house, though, has heavy, dense clay soil that resists all attempts to enrich with ammendments (so far!).

    • Julia Cussler profile image
      Author

      Julia Cussler 4 years ago

      @iouri-vlassov: Latest studies show that health risks from CCA-treated wood are extremely small, nevertheless I think is is advisable to eliminate any such risks.

      Use alternative materials which include:

      Eastern red cedar

      White oak

      Redwood

      Plastic

      Concrete blocks

      Brick

      Natural stone.

      I am using cedar for all my applications

    • profile image

      iouri-vlassov 4 years ago

      I am going to install a couple of raised beds in my backyard this spring. I'm not sure which material to use. There is timber-wood in Home-depot that looks attractive according the price and the size, but as long as it pressure treated, is it safe to use it in terms of chemicals leaking into the soil?

    • Julia Cussler profile image
      Author

      Julia Cussler 4 years ago

      @alice-cussler-7: You can make them even bigger if you like. For example Well known organic gardening enthusiast Jonathan White recommendation is to build the bed minimum size 8'x 8' and 15' by 15' even better. He plants vegetables crowded, so they create kind of micro climate inside this plot.

    • profile image

      alice-cussler-7 4 years ago

      Raised bed gardening improves garden productivity a lot. I use 48x48 inches beds. I just found out that they are a bit small. Next year I gona make them 98x48 and also make them 12" high instead of 8" they are now. Thank you for the useful information.