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Raised Planting Beds Raise Your Gardening Prowess
Would you like to make growing your own fresh vegetables easier? Then give a thought to raised bed gardening. Gardening in contained soil higher than surface soil provides a number of advantages over growing plants in level ground.
Easily Managed Plots
Raised bed gardening means planting vegetables within smaller sized plots of contained earth. These smaller bed layouts are great for those who have limited room and can be more compatible with today’s busy lifestyles. Rectangular raised beds approximately 3 feet in width make all areas of the bed easily accessible. The length of the bed depends on your needs and your landscape. For more yield, some gardeners plant multiple raised beds with paths between them to allow for easier reach and easy upkeep. With ample space, you can plant more and more beds as you choose. Smaller, raised beds make watering, weeding, and harvesting your vegetables that much easier.
With smaller raised plots and paths you can easily maneuver around the sides of the garden. Plus, you won’t be packing down the soil so it stays light and aerated resulting in good drainage and reducing excess moisture thereby promoting root growth and healthy plants.
Perhaps ironically, your smaller raised bed garden may actually yield more than conventional beds because you can squeeze more into a raised bed since you don’t need to leave room for paths.
Better Soil Control
Perhaps the biggest advantage to raised bed gardening is that you completely control the soil. You create the ideal soil mixture by combining topsoil, fertilizer, compost, nutrients, and pH balancing chemicals as needed for the plants you wish to grow.
Raised beds enable you to conquer any undesirable soil situation from slow-drying clay, to overly sandy, to not properly draining. Plus, you won’t need to till though you will have soil that’s desirably porous because it’s not packed down.
The soil depth of a raised bed garden should be no less than 6-12 inches for the proper root development of plants. A height of 18-24 inches or more can be easier on the back. And there’s really no reason a raised bed couldn’t be planted at waist level for really easy gardening if that’s your choice.
Choose Your Location
With smaller raised beds you may have more options for location. In fact, you could even plant a raised bed box on a deck or patio. It’s most important, however, to choose a site that gets at least 5 to 8 hours of full sun. Place the beds facing north to south to take full advantage of daylight. Remember that the soil in a raised bed does warm faster and dry out more rapidly than soil at ground level; you will need to water your raised vegetable garden frequently, especially during hot, dry weather. Soaker hoses are a good choice for raised bed gardening.
Making Your Bed
Most gardeners prefer to frame their raised beds to keep the soil in place. You can use just about anything; from stones, bricks, concrete and cinder blocks, to synthetic boards and a variety of woods such as cedar and redwood. Avoid pressure-treated lumber that may leach chemicals into the soil and harm your plants. Choose materials that make your box as simply functional or as decorative and architectural as you like.
Though primarily used for vegetable gardens, raised beds can also be used for ornamental plants and flowers, in architectural landscaping, and for difficult sites such as hills and slopes.
When you first build your raised bed, fill the contained area with your ideal soil mixture to the top. Give it a few days to settle before planting. Water a few times, but don’t soak the soil.
Raised beds are so versatile and make gardening so much easier that they may seem to be a new concept. Not so. Research shows that raised bed gardens extend at least as far back as the colonial era. The only real revelation may be that they’re the perfect way to garden in the Twenty-first Century.
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