Tag Archive | "raised bed garden"

Maintaining a Raised Bed Garden

After you’ve built your frames, you need to mix your soil and put it into the frames. If you like, you can use about 25% soil from your own garden as a base. Then you can add in equal parts sand and compost, and be sure to check the pH balance of the soil to be sure it’s within the range needed for your plants.

You can elevate your raised beds to provide extra protection against small animals. You can cover bottom with chicken wire to help keep out small animals, and you can cover the tops with bird netting if you have a problem with birds eating your produce.

If you’re worried about weeds in your raised beds, you can mulch with good organic bark mulch. You can also use black plastic or weed guards, but it probably won’t be necessary. Most raised bed gardens don’t have a lot of trouble with weeds, and those few weeds that do appear are usually very easy to get rid of.

If your plants happen to be attacked by a disease from the soil, you can get rid of the soil in your beds and start all over. You wouldn’t be able to do this in a standard garden, where you’d have to wait for two years to be sure the disease had been fully eradicated.

Raised beds are typically quite simple to keep moist. You’ll only need to water the raised bed, so you can save a lot of money on your water bill. You can also buy drip irrigation systems or soaker hoses that will water your plants for you. This can be better for your plants than watering from overhead, because it can help prevent diseases and fungus.

During the heat of the summer, your raised beds may dry out faster. This is due to the fact that the boards that make your frame get very hot, and can dry up the soil. If this happens, you’ll need to water more often than usual. This can be beneficial, though. The extra heat produced by the boards can help you plant earlier, and extend your season longer.

It’s very simple to maintain your raised beds. You need to add organic material to the soil in your raised beds every year in the early spring, before you plant anything. This will help ensure the plants will have adequate nutrition.

When your raised beds aren’t in use in the winter, you can add a layer of crushed leaves over the top of the soil. This helps protect the soil, and also helps provide a bit of organic material for the soil.

If you have a disease infestation that comes from the soil, you should remove all of the soil from the bed and dispose of it, starting from scratch with new soil. You’ll need to be sure to get rid of as much of that soil as you can.

You may need to add more sand or organic material occasionally to ensure proper drainage. If your soil is drying out too quickly, or staying wet for too long, you’ll need to adjust the makeup of the soil.

Finally, it’s important to keep an eye on the material you used to build your frames. If you’ve used untreated wood, this is especially important, because it can rot quickly.

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Creating a Raised Bed Garden

The first step in creating a raised bed garden is to decide how large you’d like it to be. It should be no wider than 4 feet, so you can reach comfortably to end to plants from both sides, but it can be as long as you’d like. Most people stick with 4×4 foot plots, and you can do many 4×4 foot plots or one 4×12 or 4×20 or whatever you want!

You can build your frame out of standard lumber. 2×6 lumber is good enough for a frame that will house shallow-root vegetables such as radishes, lettuce, and spinach. If you want to grow larger vegetables like corn or tomatoes, you’ll need 2×12 boards, so your soil can be at least 10 inches deep.

Opinion varies on whether or not you should use treated lumber. If you use untreated lumber, it will rot within a few years and you’ll have to start your garden all over from scratch. If you use treated wood, it has a small potential to leech toxic chemicals into the soil which might be picked up by your plants and passed to you.

If you want to be on the safe side, you should stick with untreated wood. But treated wood is very convenient, and many scientists claim the chances of anyone actually being harmed by the small amount of chemicals that might leech into the soil would be miniscule. This is a personal choice, so whatever you decide is right for you is just fine.

You should have your lumber cut for you when you buy it. You need the lumber ends to be perfectly even so soil won’t leak out once you put your raised bed together. This is extremely difficult to do yourself unless you have a large saw. A circular saw or handsaw probably won’t cut it.

You’ll need to use three 4-inch ribbed deck nails at each joint to put your frame together. Other types of deck nails just won’t hold tightly enough to ensure your bed won’t fall apart until the pressure of all that soil and plant material.

You should assemble the frame on a flat, level surface, not directly in the garden if you can help it. Your frame will be much sturdier if it’s assembled on your deck or driveway. Then you might require help moving it to the garden, as it will probably be heavy.

You should leave a minimum of two feet between boxes, preferably three feet. You need enough room to move around comfortably. Be sure to choose a good location right from the start, because once they’re filled with soil, they’d be impossible to move without emptying them!

You can dig up or till the soil underneath the frames if you wish, but it’s generally not necessary. Most plants will grow just fine in the 6 or 12 inches of soil inside the frame, and they should be able to push through the ground if they really need to. As long as you provide very high quality soil with plenty of organic material, your plants should never need to shoot roots down past those 12 inches.

Your soil should be the highest quality soil you can manage. You can purchase commercial potting soil, but it generally won’t be high enough quality. You should add more organic material to this soil. You can use homemade compost, composted manure, or other rich organic material to make the soil you use the best possible quality.

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