Gardening In Raised Beds

Raised beds built along the property line between neighours. It serves as a community garden between the two families, taking advantage of a full sun location and sharing both watering tasks and harvests.

As you think about gardening next spring, you might want to consider adding raised beds as part of your plan.   There are some definite advantages to raised beds.

  1. Raised beds offer a longer growing season. The soil in the raised bed tends to warm up earlier in the spring and it drains better eliminating soggy planting beds.
  2. You will find fewer weeds in a raised bed and if you do get a few weeds, they are easy to remove.
  3. Your soil will not become impacted becuse you are not walking on it.
  4. You tend to have fewer slugs and snails as the sides of the raised bed provide somewhat of a barrier to these little pests. You can also protect your plants from things like carrot rust fly and cabbage moths, by covering affected crops with row cover.A raised Strawberry bed covered with netting to keep the birds out as the berries are ripening
  5. You will not have to till the soi in the raised bed which is so much better for the soil.
  6. You can add compost, mulches, manures directly onto the top few inches of soil easily and efficiently.
  7. If you plan your raised bed to be at least 12 inches high, you will find that back and joint pain will be greatly decreased.
  8. Raised beds are attractive and pathways between are easy to maintain.
  9. Raised beds help you to avoid toxicity that may exist in the soil in your yard. Because you are adding the soil and compost, you have control over what your vegetables grow in.
  10. You can grow your plants closer together in a raised bed, getting more out of your backyard space.

Of course where there are advantages, there are disadvantages.  The use of raised beds to grow vegetables and flowers is no exception

  1. There is an upfront cost to bear. You have to purchase materials to build the beds and then you have to purchase soil to fill the bed.  It is recommended that you use triple mix in the bed. For a 4×8 foot raised bed, you will need about 1 cubic yard of triple mix.  Amend your soil with compost and manure to keep it fertile. Of course because the raised bed is portable, you can take it with you when you move.
  2. Raised beds dry out more quickly in the summer. The best way to water a raised bed is to instal a drip watering system. This will allow the water to enter the soil slowly and not gush through and out of your raised bed. There will be a costly upfront cost involved with a drip watering system. An alternative is to use soaker hoses. It is easy to do, less costly and you can direct the water to the base of the plants where it needs to be.
  3.   When you crowd plants in, there is a risk of poor circulation which increases the risks of plant diseases. You must be on the lookout for this.

authored by Carol Anderson

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