Raised Bed Gardening
The ‘raised’ veggie garden is any garden that has been framed – typically with wood – raising the soil line above that of the ground. You can use wood, field stone, bricks, treated 6 x 6 timbers or anything that will hold dirt in to frame and raise a garden. Ideally the framing material will be attractive to look at and will not rot. Also avoid railway ties as they usually contain a wood preservative called creosote that will hurt your plants. I usually use pressure treated lumber, using our Raised Bed Garden System (B1230) makes the job easier the kit has metal corners that let you quickly attach boards.
Reasons to raise a veggie bed...
Artistic – a raised bed can look very nifty and sharp. Our backyard veggie garden is raised and we put all sorts of fun angles to it just because we could.
Improve the soil – a raised bed is usually filled with ‘good soil’ that often is better than the icky clay or whatever is in the garden. New subdivisions are notorious for poor quality fill and a raised veggie bed is a quick fix. If you are ordering dirt to fill a raised bed with – remember spending a few dollars extra in solid quality dirt will pay dividends. Also add a bunch of compost or organic matter.
Save your back – real reason I put my garden in raised beds is I hate weeding – weeding can be back breaking work. So my solution was to raise the veggie garden, make it closer to me so I have to bend very little. Yup – I raised my beds over 24” – and put in lots of walkways so I do not ever have to reach too far – so now I can pour a glass of Merlot and stroll each evening through my raised beds and gently pull out a weed here and there. Weeding is now a cultural event and not a chore! Now a 24” raised bed is real luxury – even a 6” raised bed will improve your yield, but remember the higher you raise it the less you have to bend to pull weeds.
A few tips:
~Always fill with good soil. Air, water and roots need room to move through the soil.
~Always use materials to frame your bed that will not immediately rot – pressure treated lumber is good, avoid creosote treated lumber.
~Always add walkways to help in weeding – have fun with them and be artistic – build funny angles.
~Raised beds will dry out a bit faster than a garden bed; so really important to mulch to help hold water.
By Joan Adam