Beginning a Garden - Raised Beds

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

You are ready to start your garden - but which bed option do you go with?  There are many options!  This series will focus on raised beds,  container gardening, and the traditional in-ground garden bed.   

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We are going to start with the ever-growing popular, raised bed garden;  and why this should be an option to consider.  To a traditional gardener, a few years back, this seemed like a compromise to conventional gardening - almost like you were cheating in the way of life of gardening.  However, since it is becoming more and more popular, even the most traditional gardeners now agree, this is definitely a garden to consider.  And, so many are diving in wholeheartedly after they experience just a season with raised beds.  

There are so many reasons why raised beds have gained such popularity.  Some of the main reasons are that you can pretty much make them fit any space, place them anywhere, use a multitude of materials, gain better control, and have a fruitful bounty.   There aren't too many negatives to this garden plan if done correctly. 

garden shovel

Let's explore a countless list of reasons as to why this option should be considered.  First,  the most crucial aspect of your garden is often determined to be the soil.   If you live in a place as I do, that soil in your backyard has a very high concentration of clay.  That is clearly not the most nutrient-rich source in which to plant in. Every area of the country has a different soil base that often has to be worked at in a hard way to be overcome to garden effectively and efficiently in it.   But, with a raised bed, you are in complete control by choosing each aspect you add to your beds, and you can amend as needed.  You can achieve optional soil quality with somewhat minimal effort. With soil that is of high quality, the starting point of your garden will put you in a position to have a successful gardening experience and produce an abundant crop. Of course, other elemental issues come into play in a critical manner, such as sun, water, and drainage.  But, your soil is of utmost importance and is the area that most avid gardeners will invest the most in. 

Then there is the simple but important aspect of the look of the garden or the aesthetics.   You can spend your days looking at Pinterest and planning for that dreamy garden.  But you CAN make it happen!   A huge positive is that you can create that beautiful small space that produces a prolific harvest.  It is so much easier to maintain than acres and acres of traditional garden space.   They are often on the more compact size, but not always.  It's entirely up to you, your imagination, your budget, and your available space. The area can be as large as your imagination and budget.  But, a small scale raised bed garden can be every bit as swoon-worthy while doing what gardens do best, grow your food and florals in abundance.  

Easier maintenance is a definite bonus to raised bed gardening.  The elevated height makes access much easier for those who may have difficulty bending, stooping, and kneeling.   Due to how they are built, you can often sit on the edges, and as long as the raised bed is not over 4 feet across, most can reach easily into the center from both directions.   The recommended height is usually at least 10 inches, but it can be as little as 6 inches.  However, you can keep adding to the height until you are content with it.  Just keep in mind, additional height will often mean more garden soil needed to fill.  

gardening raised bed

You can typically begin planting earlier in a raised bed due to the fact the soil warms quicker than a traditional garden when springtime arrives.  It allows you to garden earlier, but you can often garden later in the season as it's easier to cover crops when the cooler temperatures start arriving. 

Another positive is that you don't have to own heavy equipment such as a tiller to use all season.  When raised beds are correctly installed, weeding is so much easier and is often done by hand or a simple tool like a hula hoe.   As mentioned above, the overall maintenance is a definite benefit.  But, only needing a few simple tools makes it easier, lends for better storage, and is much more cost-effective. 

The list could go on and on as to why raised bed a regaining so much popularity. But, the primary reasons are outlined above.  You can always start with one and add to them as you want and as space allows.  It's a great way to jump into the garden or switch your typical garden plan with one as the positives outweigh other options.   It's something to consider no matter where you are on the experience spectrum as a gardener. 

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