Vegetable gardening in raised beds

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You’ve resolved to start a vegetable garden, and you also understand and know what to plant. Now, you’re wondering if you will be planting directly on the ground, or whether you will be doing your vegetable gardening in raised beds. It all depends on a number of factors, but today’s blog post will cover a lot of ground regarding raised beds (how they work, how to build one, AND showcasing of a few raised garden bed ideas ).

Vegetable gardening in raised beds

Do you need to do vegetable gardening in raised beds?

Not really, especially if you have good soil for planting and growing vegetables, BUT raised beds  do have advantages:

  • Raised beds require less kneeling, bending or even crawling – so they are easy on your back and knees. 
  • They offer better drainage than “on the  ground” planting soil. Your vegetable plants won’t sit on excess water for too long after heavy rains.
  • On the vanity front, a raised bed garden is more pleasing to the eye, and neater too.
  • Because of the above, raised bed gardens are great for urban gardening – where space tends to be limited.
  • Raised beds do a better job of keeping crawling insects away, since it takes effort for them to climb the elevated structure.

Homemade raised garden bed

The idea a homemade raised garden bed may be intimidating at first, but come to think of it – it is just a box afterall. With some simple instructions, you will have your own raised garden bed in no time.

How to Build A Raised Vegetable Garden Bed

You only need these readily available tools to build your own raised bed garden:

  • 1” x 6” x 8 Cedar boards – 2 boards cut into 4
  • Wood screws OR 8 metal corner brackets
  • Power drill (this is a must have for every home)

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Cedar boards come in a variety of lengths and widths. Obviously, using 6” wide boards will give you more shallow beds than 10” boards. Choose whichever length and width combination you prefer. If you find 4’ beds are too wide, simply reduce the length of each shorter section to 3’ – 3.5’.

Instructions:

To assemble your raised vegetable garden beds, line the ends of an 8’ foot section and a 4’ sections up so they form an “L” shape. While your helper holds the boards in place, secure the two boards together with wood screws or with the metal corner brackets.

Repeat this process with the remaining cedar boards until you create 2 wooden rectangles, each measuring 8’ in length by 4’ in width.

Once your beds are assembled, carry them to a sunny spot in your garden and place them where you want your raised beds before you begin filling them.

You can easily buy pre-made raised garden beds as well.

What to put at the bottom of a raised garden bed?

Add a thick layer of newspaper or flattened cardboard across the bottom of your raised garden box. This will help prevent weeds and grass from growing up into your planter.

How do you fill a raised bed cheaply?

Once you have added the layer of newspapers or flattened cardboard (I prefer the cardboards) at the bottom of your raised bed, start adding alternating layers of , compost, aged manure or barn litter, and topsoil

My soil is fairly good for vegetable gardening, so I only mix it with one or two of the above components, to lower the cost.

If you assembled and filled your raised beds during the Fall or autumn season – you can cover them with dark plastic to “cook down” all winter. You will be rewarded with beautiful rich soil in the spring, but it will be quite a bit lower than you remember – so be extra generous when filling the beds. 

If you assemble your raised vegetable garden beds in the spring, you can plant right into the layered mixture. Over time, the layers will break down to form a rich soil. In the near term, your plants will do just fine in it as long as you don’t use fresh compost, manure or barn litter, all of which can “burn” your plants.

Raised garden bed ideas

There’s a variety of ways to make raised beds. It may as well be a simple wooden box, or something more elaborate. It also matters whether you want them to be a permanent fixture in the home, or something that you can pack up should you need to:

Vegetable gardening in raised beds has the advantage of allowing some creativity from your side:

  1. This raised bed is made of of loose bricks, and filled with the right soil for planting. This is especially easy if you already have bricks left over from another project. The structure will allow for good drainage as the bricks are not plastered together.
  2. The wooden box is one of the most common raised garden bed ideas. It is easy to put together (see the instructions as you scroll upwards this post)
  3. A permanent structure is aesthetically pleasing. It may cost more initially (bricks and cement), but it is my most favorite (especially if you won’t be moving anytime soon. This is also the kind of thing that could add value to your property. Get professional help though when going for this kind of structure. Provision for some drilling (to encourage drainage) may be necessary.
  4. The elevated design will make gardening super easy, and back-friendly. If you go for this one, make sure that the structure is steady. The last thing you need is your bed collapsing.

Do you do your gardening in raised beds?

I’d love to see them; feel free to comment below – and don’t forget to pin or share.

 

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