Tag Archive | "raised bed gardening"

An Introduction to Raised Bed Gardening


Raised bed gardening is a way of growing plants inside beds that are raised up above the normal level of the soil in the garden. They’re typically housed inside a wooden frame, generally rectangular. The soil may be mixed in with tilled soil underneath, or it can simply be new soil placed on top of untilled ground.

There are many great benefits to growing plants in raised beds. One of the biggest benefits is the ability to harvest more produce from the same space. Raised bed gardens can actually double or even triple the amount of produce harvested from the space! This is due to the fact that the square footage needed for pathways is reduced considerably, and more space can be devoted to the plants.

Another great benefit to growing in raised beds is the fact that you can improve your soil conditions more readily, and you can even grow plants in areas with extremely inhospitable soil. If your garden is typically very sandy or you have a lot of clay, it can be difficult to grow much in it. But if you create a raised bed, you can simply put your own purchased or created soil mix into the frame and grow your plants in that.

Weeds are also much less of a problem in the typical raised bed. Because the soil is confined, it’s much easier to spot any weeds that do pop up, and the weed seeds in the existing soil are buried under far too much soil to sprout in most cases.

The frames can also be built with a bottom and placed on tables so handicapped and elderly people can reach their plants to care for them more easily. This is a major benefit for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to properly care for a garden.

This type of gardening was made popular by Mel Bartholomew in his book and television series called Square Foot Gardening. He developed a system that requires about 80% less space than traditional types of gardening.

Instead of being just a standard raised bed, the bed is divided into sections that house plants of various sizes. It uses special soil mix that is free of weeds and is ideal for growing almost any kind of plants. It uses less water, is all organic, and uses far fewer seeds than traditional gardening. His system claims you can produce 5 times more in the same space of a traditional garden.

The system divides each square foot into a grid, based on what type of plants you wish to grow in that section. If you want to grow a large plant like broccoli or cabbage, it would take one entire square foot, so that section wouldn’t be divided at all. If you want to grow radishes, you might section that square foot into sixteen separate spaces, each one housing a single radish!
Other similar systems have been brought out. Cubed Foot Gardening is very similar to Square Foot Gardening. The creator of this particular system is Christopher O. Bird, and he credits Mel Bartholomew for creating the original system. Bartholomew even gave the system an endorsement!
You don’t have to use a grid system at all. You can use a raised bed to plant a wildflower garden or an herb garden with no definable organization. This works just fine. You don’t have to restrict yourself to a grid-based system if you don’t want to. Raised beds are very flexible!

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Choosing Plants for a Raised Bed Garden


The type of plants you choose for your raised bed will obviously be based on things such as your zone, the availability of sun in your garden, and your own personal preferences. But we’re going to talk about how to choose vegetables for your raised beds in a general way.

First of all, you should be sure to plant only those vegetables your family actually likes to eat. Sure, those golden beets may be beautiful, but do you eat beets? Do your kids like beets? Is your spouse going to run away screaming if you try to serve them? You should only plant varieties that you actually believe your family will truly enjoy.

The easiest plants to grow in raised beds include beans, Swiss chard, corn, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, squash, and radishes. These plants are all great for beginners. Herbs are also generally very easy to grow. You should choose some of these easier types if you’re new to raised bed gardening or to gardening in general.

If you want plant vegetables that reach maturity very quickly, you can choose varieties that are better for this purpose. Some of us can be very impatient. If you hate waiting around to harvest your first vegetables, you can try radishes, spinach, lettuce, beans, beets, squash, cucumbers, carrots, and peas.

If you prefer to get your plants out as early in the season as possible, you should choose varieties that are especially good for early planting outdoors. Some varieties you can plant four to six weeks before the last frost include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, parsley, peas, and spinach.

You can plant beets, carrots, radishes, and Swiss chard up to four weeks before the last frost. You’ll be able to plan beans, corn, summer squash, and tomatoes on the date of the last frost. And you can plant cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, and winter squash about two weeks after the last frost date.

If you want to extend your growing season as late in the year as you can, you should choose great fall vegetables. You can harvest beans, Swiss chard, corn, cucumbers, eggplants, squashes, and tomatoes up until the last frost.

Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, beets, carrots, lettuce, and spinach can all be planted just a few weeks before the last frost and will have time to mature before the frost hits. And you can plant lettuce and radishes up to a week before the first frost in many areas!

If you’re a beginning gardener, you should probably stick to those plants you can grow during the normal growing season. You won’t want to get too complex or too complicated when you’re just starting out. You should stick with the easier varieties, and plant them during the normal growing season.

Also, be certain to choose varieties that grow well in your area. You should check your USDA zone chart to be certain a particular variety of plant will grow well in your area. Don’t pick varieties that won’t grow in your area, no matter how tempting they may be.

And be sure to choose varieties that will grow under your lighting conditions. If you have a very shady yard, don’t pick vegetables or herbs that need full sun. You need to work with the conditions available to you, especially if you’re just starting out.

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