The Ultimate Guide to Raised Bed Gardening
Raised garden bed --- some growers love it, others don't because they take a lot of room. But one thing is for sure; once you've started growing crops in a raised bed garden, there's no looking back.
It’s one thing to have a raised bed or two in the garden, and it’s another when it comes to building a raised bed garden. You can create the raised beds on your own out of wood, stone, or cinder blocks or buy our very own raised bed planters. Either way, raised beds will change your gardening life!
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What is a Raised Bed Garden?
Raised bed gardening is simply growing crops in a garden bed. The garden bed is built up to solve several gardening challenges. You can create raised beds by piling soil up or use containers to hold the garden soil. Between the two, using planters is the best way to go because the container maintains the integrity of the bed over time.
Why Use Raised Garden Beds?
Better Soil for Longer
Before the growing season, gardeners are busy amending the soil to ensure a plentiful harvest. In-ground gardening meant tilling the ground every year with fertilizers and amendments. Using raised garden beds makes amendments easier because the soil used for growing crops is contained within the planter. All you have to do is add the materials on top of the soil - soil conditioners, compost, manure, etc. No more backbreaking work conditioning the soil every year. The soil quality is better for longer when you’re using raised beds for gardening.
Easy Weed Control
If you’re still pulling weeds by hand, then you are seriously missing out if you haven’t used raised beds already. Raised beds are easier to maintain because weeds do not grow as aggressively. There’s no soil tilling, which increases the likelihood of weed seeds being dug deeper into the ground and propagating come spring season. You can simply cover the raised beds with mulch, black plastic, or cardboard before the growing season to inhibit weeds from going to seed. Since you’re also working in a contained area, controlling weeds is much, much easier.
Practical and Attractive
Let’s face it; an organized garden is a beautiful garden! With raised beds, your garden is not only practical, it’s easy on the eyes too. You get higher yields, your soil quality is better, and your garden looks good to boot. Really, what’s not to like?
Keep Critters Out
From weeds to nibbling pests, raised beds make it easy to protect your precious plants from different pests, including slugs and rodents. If you live in a region with a deer problem, installing fences is easier when you do it directly to the raised bed. You can also get raised beds with a build-in deer fence. You can also cover the raised beds with row covers or use cold frames to keep birds away from your crops.
Waterlogged gardens could stifle plants, cause root rot, and wash soil nutrients away. Raised beds offer better drainage because the planters are built up. The raised beds are designed to give the plants enough breathing room and prevent wetness due to heavy rains. Also, it will be hard to overwater your crops because the planters are set higher up.
How to Fill a Raised Garden Bed?
The best way to fill raised garden beds is by mixing 40% soil with 40% compost and 20% loose soil for aeration.
You need to measure the raised bed by cubic feet and fill it with bulk soil. You can buy bulk soil from a local gardening or landscape store. To determine how much soil you need to fill the raised bed, multiply the width by length and by depth in feet.
As for soil to use, you can use organic soil, planters mix, or bagged soil blends. Don't use potting soil alone because the soil is too loose and light for raised beds. You need soil with a little fluff but still dense.
Next, combine the compost, which will improve the nutrient profile of the soil. You can use homemade compost or buy a bag of compost. Finally, add some loose, coarse material for aeration like pumice, lava rock, rice hulls, or perlite. These materials promote better air circulation and drainage. Do note that most bagged soil mixes have loose materials mixed in.
If you really want to boost the health of the soil, throw in a handful of earthworms in the soil mix. These garden-friendly critters will dig deeper into the soil, keeping the soil aerated while their wastes improve the soil's nutrient profile further.
You can also read our previous blog about the 5 Gardening Mistakes with Raised Beds and learn how to correct them.
Raised Bed Gardening Tips
Add Mulch: Adding mulch after planting keeps weeds away while maintaining soil moisture for better plant health. Use grass clippings, wood chips, and straw as mulch.
Top-Dress with Compost: Maintaining a raised bed garden is the same as a container garden. You need to condition the soil each year because the soil will be depleted of nutrients every growing season. Top dress the soil with an inch or two of compost or composted manure every spring season just before the growing season starts!
Loosen the soil:Compacted soil can be a problem for raised bed gardening, so you have to fluff the soil as often as needed. Use a garden fork to loosen the soil. Since the soil is contained in a small space, fluffing the soil won’t be backbreaking at all.
Plant cover crops: Annual cover crops like annual ryegrass, crimson clover, and hairy vetch should be planted at the end of every growing season to boost the soil’s nutrients, prevent soil erosion, and rebalance the nitrogen content of the soil.
Raised beds make gardening so easy. Your outdoor space will look better when your crops are organized. We offer a great range of high-quality raised beds in case you’re in the mood to shop! Our raised beds are made from premium yet eco-friendly materials. Stocks are limited so shop while our beautiful raised garden bed is still available.