Benefits of a Raised Garden Bed
Raised gardens are a great way to grow vegetables and flowers. Here are some of the benefits of a raised bed:
1. Less weeds – since you have control of the soil weeds are less of an issue and easier to control
2. Animal control – if your raised bed is high enough it will be automatically protected from skunks, gophers and possum. You can also build a cover using chicken wire to protect young plants from squirrels and raccoons.
3. Easy to work – Soil is less compact making it easier to work
4. Extend Growing Season – Raised beds warm up quickly and freeze later. That means you can get a head start on the growing season and do more succession planting. It is also easier to cover if there is a risk of frost.
5. Less bending – Saves back strain and makes working in the garden more pleasant.
6. Start with great soil – When planting a garden directly in the ground, you start with the soil that’s already there, and that soil might not be ideal for gardening. However, when working with a raised garden bed, you choose the soil.
7. Location – Choose a place that gets at least 6 hours of sun per day, away from tree roots on a flat surface. Being able to place your bed ensures the best location for growing.
8. Wheelchair access – Raised beds allow those who are wheelchair bound to garden with ease.
9. Better aeration and drainage – The soil used in a raised bed allows for better aeration and drainage as compared to growing on the ground.
10. No soil compaction – Since you can’t walk on it, it cannot become compacted.
11. Higher yields – Raised beds offer richer soil allowing for better yields. Square foot gardening is also an option.
12. Water with ease – You know exactly where to water and no water is wasted.
13. Go vertical – A variety of trellis or climbing materials can be added to grow up instead of out.
How to Build a Raised Garden
A. 6 – 1 X 10 X 8 – Common pine boards
A1. 2 of these cut in half for the ends (4 pieces)
B. 2 – 2 X 2 X 6 – Common pine boards
C. 3 – 2 X 4 X 4 – Common pine boards
C1. Cut into 6 – 21 inch pieces – supports
Chicken wire – 2 – 4 1/2 foot strips
Deck screws – about 20
Do not use pressure treated wood, it can leach chemicals into the soil. Common pine or cedar boards are recommended. Most lumbar stores will cut the wood for a minimal cost.
Make the ends first by attaching 2 parts (A1) to 2 parts C1. (C1) will have an extra inch which can either be used to bury into the ground for extra support or be used to attach a cover or vertical support. Do this twice.
Attach 2 of the (A) boards to side. Attaching the bottom piece first is the easiest. Do this twice.
Attach 2 supports (C1) in the middle (Middle (C1) supports not shown in photo). You now have a basic frame.
Staple about 2 – 4 ½ foot pieces of chicken wire to both ends of (B). Screw (B)’s to inside of end and you now have a raised bed. Be sure to place on flat surface that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. It is also important to have a path around the bed to walk.
Soil for a Raised Garden Bed
Most important factor for a raised bed is that the soil is friable. Friable soil is crumbly in texture.
Before adding soil, you should place a bottom layer of cardboard, brown bags, newspaper or garden fabric to prevent weeds.
There are a few formulas for raised bed soil.
The most common combination for raised beds is an equal amount of:
1/3 Peat Moss
Compost can be from your own, purchased or can be animal compost
Coconut coir is more sustainable and can be used instead of peat moss
Pro-Mix is a formula that contains both vermiculite and peat moss already mixed. This can be used along with compost to create a fantastic mix.
Make Your Own Compost