Copyright (c) 2012 Jack Russell
Raised bed gardens are some of the most attractive and efficient ways to raise plants, whether flowers, vegetables or herbs. A raised bed allows the gardener to control the nature of the soil and to plant and harvest earlier, as plants raised in raised beds are exposed to more of the sun’s warmth. They also save the gardener’s back, because there isn’t as much stooping or weeding to do. It’s also a simple thing to rotate the plants every season.
The first thing a gardener needs to do is plan ahead. They should make a list of the plants they’d want to put in the raised bed. They should note when to plant, when to harvest, when the flowers bloom and how much space each plant requires. A raised bed of flowers might require a bit of artistry as the gardener considers the height, color and textures of the plants and when they will be at their best. For vegetables, they will need to learn which plants do well together and which ones shouldn’t be planted near each other.
Along with what kinds of plants they’ll want, the gardener needs to know where the raised beds will be put. Though some flowers like shade, vegetables and herbs almost never do and their beds will need to be put in a sunny area. Ideally, the raised beds should be accessed by paved paths, as bare dirt can get muddy during rainy weather, dusty during dry weather and will need to be weeded. An alternative to pavement can be mulch or bark, which can keep down the weeds. The paths between the beds should also be wide enough to accommodate a wheelbarrow.
Another consideration for a vegetable garden is where the raised bed is placed in relation to the house. Some people would like to have it near the kitchen door where they can easily harvest the crop and bring it inside, but some prefer it away from the house. The gardener must also consider how easy it will be to access water.
Beds can have borders or not. Many raised bed gardens have borders made out of wood that’s been treated to guard against rot and insects, while others have borders made of carefully placed stone.
The gardener should first measure and mark off the perimeter of the bed with stakes and string. Then, they should remove all vegetation within the perimeter and make sure that no roots remain in the soil. When this is done they should dig a framing trench along the inside of the perimeter. The trench should be one and a half to two inches deep and about three inches wider than the lumber. They should check the border of the trench with a level to make sure the ground is even. They should also use the level as they lay down the lumber or stones to make sure they’re evenly laid.
To determine how much soil the bed will need, the gardener should multiply its length by its width by its depth in feet, then divide by 27. This will let them know how many cubic yards of soil are needed. After the soil has been poured the gardener should then dig in the amendments like compost and fertilizer. This will add to the volume that’s inside the bed. The gardener should be careful not to fill the soil and amendments higher than 25 percent over the top tier of the border. Then, it will be time to plant!
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