Gardening alternatives are now getting popular and one of the convenient options you can try is building a raised garden bed. It comes with a lot of advantages when it comes to both gardening and improving the productivity of your garden.
Aside from these, what are things that you should know more about these garden beds? Read on to know more about the other things you can do in your garden.
what raised garden beds are and why you should build one
These raised beds are freestanding beds that are constructed above the natural grade or terrain of the soil. The planting areas are raised above the current soil level and enclosed within a structure that can be built to create a planting bed.
For your vegetable garden, you get the chance of growing as many crops as you want and even double the yields. There are various reasons why you should consider building one in your garden. Some of these reasons are the following:
- Improve the productivity and the health of your vegetable garden
Traditional gardening usually has lower yields of crops and may damage the plant over time. this is true especially when you do not have good soil in your garden. Many gardeners have soil types lacking nutrients status and are either compacted, too wet, have poor drainage, or infested with soil-borne pests like nematodes.
- Get improved soil type suitable for growing vegetables
Since usual soil types hinder healthy seed germination root establishment, root growth, nutrient supply, and eventually plant growth, creating your soil mix is necessary. This is what you can assure when you have a raised garden bed. You will only use either a premix soil blend or you can create your soil mix Along with your compost mix or organic fertilizer to fill the beds.
- Prevents physical stress to the gardener
Among the common reasons why you should consider building a vegetable garden in raised beds is that there is less need for crawling or bending. This means it will offer convenience to gardeners who are already having mobility issues.
- This is a handy option for those with backyard issues
If your garden is prone to erosion or runoff, having a garden bed will save you from the stress of dealing with these problems. Since a garden bed provides better drainage and keeps the soil inside the bed you will not have to worry about soil runoff every time you water the plants.
- Convenient for those with small spaces
Raised beds allow you 2 build a garden even if you have a small space. You can place it on the patio or any available ground without worrying about plant growth. Since you can but the right soil mix you are assured that your plants will grow healthy. Just make sure that you put it on a place with enough sunlight since this is necessary for your plants’ growth.
These are the common reasons why there are more gardeners especially beginners who are into building their raised beds. Before building your own you should learn more about garden beds first to avoid unnecessary issues as you start gardening.
where raised garden beds started
The concept behind raised bed gardening started we back the medieval times where the beds are usually edged with wattle fences. 500 years forward, prediction market gardeners during the 18th century started building up lots you sing large amounts of horse manure and compost. As time goes by, they started adding topsoil while some do it with a meter or so, some are adding topsoil with a depth of two meters.
However, the concept that most people know today became popular in the early 70s. the construction of these beds started with digging over to adapt and find tilth and then mounted between paths. Since the beds have a rounded shape, there was more surface area to grow plants. This also resulted in more yields for a variety of crops.
There was a Golden rule observed during that time. one should never walk on the bed and only on the paths. this helps in preventing the soil from being compacted. Once established, gardeners will only dig for normal cultivation or weeding, it may also include harvesting of any root crops.
Unfortunately, heavy rains wash out soil from the garden bed down to the paths. This results in the soil spreading on to the paths and defeats the object of the entire concept during this time.
As a solution, the deep raised beds were moved on to walled sides that lose the benefit of having additional areas. Though the area needed for the walls was not much, it helped the walled construction to gain stability and prevent runoffs during heavy rains.
One of the countries known for their raised garden beds is Cuba. When the Cuban economy collapsed in 1991, there was a high demand for growing organic food. Through trial and error, organoponicos was established by agronomists and ecologists. this is now known as raised bed organic gardens of the Cuban urban agriculture.
things to know before building a raised garden bed
Before starting, you must learn some things before building your raised garden bed. These are the following:
if you are planning to build a 4’x8’ frame either from a kid or scratch, it would cost more than $100. When planning to build a brick-sided bed with the same measurements and ask for the help of a mason, it would most likely cost about $2000. estimate spending around $3 for every cubic foot when purchasing bagged garden soil.
- Hire a professional or DIY
When creating wood-framed garden beds from scratch or bed kits, choosing to DIY as a beginner is a great decision. For most beginners, the hardest part would be preparing the current soil under the bed, making the soil mix, and feeling the bed. If you are planning to create a bed made of mortared masonry, hiring a pro is your best choice. It will all depend on your ability and knowledge in building your choice of material for your garden bed.
- Where you should put it
Among the common problems of beginners in gardening is choosing the right location for their garden beds. As most gardeners would recommend, you should choose a location where your plants can get at least 8 hours of sunlight. make necessary adjustments with the placement of the bed. The long side of the bed must run from East to West. Beds should be at least 6 feet from the pavement and our South facing the walls ask the summer heat could intensify.
- The lifespan of your beds
The lifespan of your garden beds will depend on the material you have used. If you are going to use western red Cedar, it can last about 10 to 15 years. For those choosing galvanized steel, it can last to about 20 years while plastic composites or masonry have an indefinite lifespan.
Considering these things in mind, you will have an idea of whether to build the raised garden beds or hire a professional to do it for you instead. This will also give you an idea of how much this project would cost you and how much time is needed for you to complete it.
It will also help you determine the right materials to use for your garden beds and the ideal location for building your bed. You get to decide whether you want a permanent garden bed or a temporary one depending on how long the materials will last.
Once you have considered all these factors, you can get started and build your garden bed. Once done, you can now start planting and growing your crops.
types of raised beds
There are two types of raised beds that you can build. One is a raised ground bed, which is the simplest form and can be constructed easily by making flap topped mounds. Best does not require additional materials aside from additional soil.
Mounds are created by adding soil to form the beds. It can also be done by excavating around 3 to 4 inches of soil from the pathways between the beds.
A supported raised bed is another type that is built with a framework made with wood, brick, stone, or plastic. This type of bed requires you to choose the right material for the frame to avoid writing and make it last for years.
Site selection is an important factor. make sure that the plants can get at least 8 hours of direct sunlight. Irrigation should also have adequate and proper drainage. Set it up in a level area or if there are issues you can do minor modifications to make it level.
Choose your growing medium. you get the truth the type of soil mix to fill the bed. However, make sure that it is free from contaminants and can provide nutrients to the growing plant. Also, you should use mulch or dried grass clippings to continue conserving moisture. This will also act as a weed barrier.
Irrigation in the garden bed is critical to achieving optimum plant growth. You can install low volume irrigation with the use of soaker hoses or drip tubing. This will help conserve water and keep moisture off the plant leaves.
Sprinkler irrigation can also be considered but is less desirable because of the potential disease issues that may arise. Irrigation must be done diligently since soil dries quickly in raised beds and may cause water stress to your crops.
how to build a raised garden bed
When building a raised garden bed, you can choose whether to build it from scratch or a kit. both are great options. However, if you want extraordinary materials used for your bed, buying a kit can make the process easier.
The only limit in building your garden bed is in your budget and imagination. Say, for example, you are building a wood frame bed. You need to buy the boards cut them into the right sizes get your power tools and screw them together.
If you are buying raised bed kits, you will find an assortment of all-inclusive kits that comes with precut parts. This saves time lessen guesswork end allows you to choose from a variety of looks. It allows you to visualize what your garden would look like even before you start building the garden bed. This keeps also comes in a variety of materials including steel, wood, concrete blocks, and composite boards.
Ideal measurements for your raised beds:
The ideal measurement for the width is about four feet. this will be enough to reach the centre of the bed from all the sides.
Just make sure the sides are supported for every three to four feet, have any length would work for your bed. The support will resist the outward pressure of the soil and prevent runoffs. You can drive two stakes on the side or at the end of the wood to the opposite side to keep them supported.
Keep in mind that low beds may require less work when building and filling. However, this will require double digging to prepare the soil under the bed. With higher beds, this will require less digging as well as less stooping. However, this will require more soil and building materials. The common height for a raised bed is about 11 inches, which is around two stacks of 2 by 6 feet boards.
The plant roots of tender herbs can grow to about 6 to 8 inches, but most vegetable roots can go much deeper. Make sure to consider the plants you want to grow before building your bed to make enough room for the roots. When digging, add soil amendment to the top 10 inches of the underbed soil with coconut coir or peat moss. This mix of organic matter will help to retain moisture in sandy soil and improving the drainage in clay soils.
Considering these factors will help you to determine the right measurements for your first garden bed. Regardless of the popularity of raised garden beds, this still comes with both advantages and disadvantages. Continue reading to learn more about these.
advantages of having a raised garden bed
Building a raised garden bed has a lot of advantages. These advantages include:
- Once built, garden beds are easy to maintain and can last for many years.
- Yield per square foot is higher
- Since you can plant crops closer in deep beds, the growth of weeds is suppressed. However, it still requires weeding that can be done by hand.
- Deep beds are easier to maintain.
- You can plant certain varieties of vegetables along with some flowers or herbs.
- Raised beds allow you to raise the soil level in case it suffers from waterlogging.
- It enables people with mobility issues or those that are less physically evil to continue gardening without the need to dig on larger plots.
- You can be creative in building your beds by adding your choice of architectural features or altering the height to provide focal points.
- There is no need to stick with a regular square or rectangular bed. You can create octagonal, hexagonal, or other geometrical shape beds if you can reach the centre without the need to walk on it.
- There is improved soil drainage which allows the soil to dry faster especially in the spring and provide better soil conditions to the crops requiring well-drained soils.
- It provides gardeners lacking the areas with little to no soil contaminated soil or unsuitable soil to grow vegetables.
- It allows beginners to formulate they are growing medium using specific formulations and ratios of compost, soil, or soil-less medium
- It reduces soil compaction
- Garden beds allow earlier planting
- Building restates allows gardeners to cover their beds with hoops for Frost protection as well as season extension.
- Allows gardeners to use different planting methods such as square foot gardening.
These advantages are the reasons why there are more beginners and long-time gardeners to try building and planting on their raised beds instead of doing the traditional gardening methods. Though there are a lot of advantages garden beds also come with some disadvantages.
disadvantages of having a raised garden bed
Along with advantages are some challenges that you may encounter as you build your raised garden bed. Some of these are:
- The cost of the building materials enters the time needed for construction and maintenance.
- the wrong choice of materials may cause a waste of materials, especially when using untreated wood. if you think wood, make sure that you go for a rot resistant type of word avoid and untimely replacement due to pests and rotting.
- There are certain types of crops that you cannot grow on raised beds
Despite the disadvantages, the use of raised garden beds still provides more benefits for the gardener which is why many are trying this method.