Raised bed gardening 🌱 🛏️ Elevate your garden game (2024)

Are you looking to take your gardening skills to the next level? If so, consider raised bed gardening. Raised beds are a great way to garden if you have limited space or if you want to improve your soil quality.

Raised bed gardening is a method rapidly increasing in popularity due to its productivity and ease of use. Raised beds allow for the gardener to use optimal soil while raising the soil surface to a comfortable working height. You’ll get a closer look at the plants while their roots enjoy excellent drainage and easy access to nutrients. Raised beds also allow for intensive planting and for soil to warm up earlier in the spring when compared to in-ground garden beds.

In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits of raised bed gardening and provide tips for getting started. Let’s get started!

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Raised bed gardening basics

Raised bed gardening is a type of gardening in which the soil is raised above ground level. This is usually done by mounding the soil or by using a contained structure (usually a large box made of wood, building blocks, or metal). The goal of raised bed gardening is to create a deep, wide growing area that encourages plant roots to grow down and outward. Raised garden beds are most commonly used for growing vegetables but can also be used for other edible plants, ornamental flowers, or herb gardens.

This type of gardening is beneficial because it allows for better drainage and easier access to nutrients. In addition, raised bed gardens are easier to maintain and can be more productive than in-ground gardens. Lastly, raising garden soil up above ground level helps it warm quickly in the spring and makes it easier to work in the garden by reducing bending distance down to the soil while planting and tending to your garden.

The benefits of raised bed gardening

With raised beds, you can create a deep, wide-growing area of rich soil that encourages plant roots to grow down and outward. Soil quality is often better in raised beds as well, as you can control the type of soil that goes into the bed. This can be especially beneficial if you’re dealing with challenging native soil conditions. This includes areas with heavy clay, low organic matter, compacted soil, or potentially contaminated soil.

Raised beds are generally easier to plant seeds and vegetable plant seedlings in as the surface are raised up, meaning you don’t have to bend over as much as you would in an in-ground garden. This also means that raised beds can be great for people with back problems. Raised beds also place plants at eye level for better observation of pest issues.

Weeds are also less of an issue in raised beds because you start with clean soil rather than native soil that contains the seeds of local weedy plants. In addition, raised beds can be contained with edging material to further discourage weed growth.

If you’re looking for a more productive garden, raised bed gardening may be for you. Because the soil is loose and well-drained, plants can grow more quickly in raised beds. The close proximity of plants also allows them to compete better for light, water, and nutrients, resulting in healthier plants.

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Getting started with raised bed gardening

The first step is to choose a location for your raised bed garden. raised beds can be placed on any level surface, including concrete patios, decks, and driveways. The raised bed should be placed in an area that receives at least six hours of sunlight per day.

Once you’ve chosen a location, it’s time to choose the materials for your raised bed. You can build them yourself from scratch or choose from a number of raised bed kits.

Raised beds can be made from various materials, including wood, composite wood, stone, brick, concrete blocks, galvanized metal, or corten steel. If you’re using wood, make sure to choose a rot-resistant variety, such as cedar or redwood. There are also quite a few excellent non-toxic wood preservative products.

You’ll also need to choose the size of your raised bed. raised beds can be any size, but it’s important to make sure that they’re not too large for you to reach the middle from the edge. A width of 4 feet is usually considered the maximum width, while most beds are between 4 and 8 feet long.

Once you’ve chosen your materials and size, it’s time to build your raised bed. If you’re using wood, you’ll need to assemble the lumber into a rectangular frame. If you’re using stone or brick, you’ll need to lay the stones or bricks in a rectangular pattern.

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Soil for raised beds

Once you’ve built your raised bed, it’s time to fill it with soil. Avoid using existing soil unless you’ve done a soil test. Instead, take the opportunity to create a healthy soil mix. You can also add amendments to the soil, such as compost or manure, to improve the quality.

A standard soil mix for raised beds is equal parts:

  • Bulk organic material like coco coir or peat moss
  • Porous mineral material like perlite, vermiculite, or sand
  • Nutrient-rich compost

You can also mix in specialty soil amendments to the top 6″ of soil, including worm castings, rock dust, and all-purpose slow-release organic fertilizer.

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Planting in a raised bed garden

Raised bed gardens are easy to plant in. Because the soil has just been added, there are no tree roots to dig out or weeds to pull. The soil temperature in raised beds also warms up earlier in the spring, so you can get a jump start on your gardening season.

Spring planting for a raised bed vegetable garden can start in early spring as soon as the soil has thawed and can be worked. This is the time to plant cool-season crops. This includes root crops like carrots, radishes, and beets as well as leafy greens like lettuce, kale, and spinach. Peas are also great vegetable plants to grow. Use frost protection like a row cover to protect plants if a hard freeze is forecasted.

Once nighttime temperature lows are well above freezing, warm-season crops can be planted in raised beds. This includes garden favorites like tomatoes, peppers, squash, and other large sprawling vegetables that do well in the heat of summer. You can continue your succession planting by replanting cool-season vegetables in late summer after your warm-season veggies have been harvested.

Plant spacing in raised garden beds

Proper plant spacing is important in raised garden beds to ensure that your plants have enough room to grow. The specific spacing will depend on the type of plants you’re growing, but a general rule of thumb is to space most vegetable plants so that they’re about 6 inches apart. Smaller veggies like carrots and radishes can go closer together while larger veggies like tomatoes and zucchini will need more like 2 feet between plants. This will give them enough room to spread their roots and grow without crowding.

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Watering raised bed gardens

Frequent watering is key to producing the most vegetables in your outdoor space. While you can water raised bed gardens with a garden hose or sprinkler, the easiest way is to install an automated drip irrigation system.

Drip irrigation systems use drip tubing or soaker hoses to deliver water directly to the roots of your plants, so there is less evaporation and runoff. They also save you time, as you can set them on a timer to water your garden for you. With most systems, you can tell the system to skip a watering session if it has rained recently, helping to curtail excess water use.

When to fertilize a raised garden bed

Fertilizing raised garden beds is important to keep your plants healthy and productive. The best time to fertilize is in the spring with a slow-release organic fertilizer. Wait until the soil has thawed (which is usually before the ground thaws as raised beds warm faster in the spring). Follow the instructions on the fertilizer of your choice for reapplication throughout the growing season.

This is also a good time to add a top dressing of 1″ of organic compost. Compost not only supplies nutrients but also boosts soil tilth by adding organic matter and also acts as a surface mulch to suppress weeds and moderate soil moisture and temperature.

Mulching raised bed vegetable gardens

Mulching raised vegetable garden beds is also important for a productive raised bed garden. Mulch helps to suppress weeds, retain moisture, and keep the soil cool in the summer. A good rule of thumb is to add a 1-2″ thick layer of mulch around your plants at the beginning of the growing season. You can use any type of mulch including straw, grass clippings, leaves, wood chips, or organic compost.

Weeding your raised bed garden

Even with mulch, you’ll still need to do some weeding throughout the season. Hand-weeding is the best way to go, as you can be more selective about what you’re pulling. Be sure to weed regularly, as weeds can steal nutrients and water from your plants if left unchecked.

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When to harvest from a raised bed garden

The timing of your harvest will depend on the type of plants you’re growing. Typically, cool-season vegetables can be planted in early spring for a late spring/early summer harvest. Warm-season vegetables are planted in late spring for a late summer/early fall harvest. You can re-plant cool-season crops in late summer/early fall for a late fall harvest or for overwintered vegetables.

Raised bed garden maintenance

Raised garden beds require some basic maintenance to keep them productive. This includes adding organic matter to the soil each year, fertilizing, mulching, and weed control. With a little care, your raised garden bed will provide you with bountiful harvests for many years to come!

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Raised bed gardening 🌱 🛏️ Elevate your garden game (2024)
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