Hand picked fresh home grown vegetables have no substitute in flavor and nutrition. Though growing your own vegetables has its own advantages, it can be tedious. Planting, pruning, weeding, watering, fertilizing and a constant vigilance for those little pests, who always want the first bite of your vegetables, can be quite back breaking. A raised bed to grow your plants in, is an excellent way to arrange your garden as per your needs and enjoy a bountiful harvest.
Vegetable Gardening on a Raised Bed
It is a system where the gardener can grow plants in a small concentrated area. Soil is raised and held from all sides, in shapes of a square, rectangle or circle. The raised bed is generally 3 to 4 feet wide and the length is as per the need. Planning a raised bed garden is very similar to planning a vegetable or flower garden. Following are a few easy steps to a raised vegetable garden:
Choose a spot that receives plenty of sunlight and is not surrounded by too many trees. Ensure good drainage facility to avoid water logging in the raised beds.
Holding the soil in place is essential for good growth of the plants. There are different types of materials to choose from such as plastic, vinyl, fiberglass, stone, cinder blocks, bamboo, bricks or wood. It’s best to avoid pressure-treated lumber, as the chemical from it tends to seep in the soil. Your frames should be sturdy enough to hold the soil together. Constantly draining soil will weaken the delicate roots of your vegetable plants.
Good soil ensures good growth is what every good gardener believes in. The advantage here is the amendments one can make to the quality of the soil. The frame should be filled with light weight, humus-rich soil mixed with organic composite. Humus rich soil holds extra nutrients and earthworms, microorganisms and acids present in the soil, release them slowly and over a long duration. It’s preferable to raise your beds way from big trees, as their roots tend to compete for the nutrients and water. A well built raised bed can lasts for years and it’s easy to maintain soil fertility. The depth of the raised soil should be 8 to 12 inches above ground level as it keeps the soil warm and provides better drainage.
Growing Vegetable Plants
Choose the vegetable type and quantity you would like to grow. It’s best to prepare a layout for your raised beds. Vines need more room and tend to entangle others in their vicinity, it’s best to grow them separately. Taller plants should be grown in a place where they can’t cast a shadow on the other smaller plants around them. Different varieties can be grown in the same bed and can be planted closer, to make the best use of the space. Water thoroughly, after planting the saplings and after a day or two mulch around the plants to keep moisture in the soil.
Advantages of Raised Bed Gardening
- No soil compaction: In most gardens, we can’t avoid stepping on the garden bed, which leads to soil compaction; blocking the air from reaching the plant roots. A raised bed allows you to do all your gardening activities from the sides of the bed.
- Soil: You can control the soil quality and type as per your need from bed to bed. Since you are importing soil, to raise the height of the garden bed, you can select the soil and amend its conditions, by adding fertilizers or composite.
- Weeds and pest: They are easier to control, in small spaces. Since your plants are spaced closer, it leaves very little room for the weeds to spread. Any damage done to the plants by the insects and pest is easily visible and can be controlled at the onset.
- Access: Plants can be reached easily and all gardening activities can be carried out comfortably from the garden path. No more bending and experiencing backache.
Raised garden beds do not need expensive equipment for cultivation and require minimum maintenance. They bring orderliness and add to your landscape. You can enjoy the benefits of a big vegetable garden in a small space.