Copyright © FAB Online LLC. All rights reserved.
Using raised beds for gardening is very beneficial in many ways. It keeps the plants separate from those around them providing a physical barrier between the desirable plants and weeds, grass, etc. It allows the plants to be grown closer together than a traditional row garden. It helps control drainage for environments with soils that drain too slowly or too quickly. They give you the opportunity to vary the soil texture for different plant requirements. Lining the bed with landscape fabric reduces soil loss and inhibits other plants from growing into the bed. It makes controlling insects and animals easier by providing attachment points for screening or fencing. It also facilitates climate control by having a foundation for a cold frame or shade house to rest on. The minimum depth I recommend is 10-12 inches. Shallower beds will limit the types of plants that can grow in them. Bigger plants usually require deeper soil. If the soil your bed is placed on is inadequate for growth or you are on non-porous surface you will need to provide the depth in the bed. Materials vary from treated lumber to stone to UV resistant polyethylene to various metals. Wood is the most economical option for building raised beds. Use only pressure treated wood rated for ground contact. The thicker the wood is the longer it will last. This material will need replacing every decade or so depending on your environment. Stone is a good option for any climate. In cold environments dark colored stone absorbs the sun’s heat which is transferred to soil in the bed extending the growing season. In warm climates the stone insulates the bed and can be used to draw heat away from the soil with watering and evaporation. Stone is more durable than any other choice and would probably never have to be replaced over a lifetime. Stacking concrete wall systems are an inexpensive alternative to real stone. UV resistant plastics are also a generally inexpensive option. They can be modular and come in several colors. Their lifetime is about the same as wood. Metal is very long-lasting and relatively inexpensive. Galvanized panels will last at least a decade or more. Newer, coated panels will last much longer. Metal conducts the ambient temperature more than other materials so the beds may run warmer in hot climates and cooler in colder climates . The type of material you choose should be based on your needs, your budget, and your taste. Raised beds can be constructed on the ground or on a tiled or concrete patio. They can be made tall so you don’t have to bend over too far when maintaining. Remember, the taller you make them the more soil you will need to fill them. They make it easy to divide crops with requirements for nutrients, water, or light. The area in between beds is not wasted because you don’t have to till, weed or fertilize which would be lost resources in a traditional garden. Plus it gives you easy access to all sides of the growing area. It can be grass, gravel, or mulch depending on your preference or environment. Make the foot paths wide enough to accommodate all the tools you will need to maintain the garden. Water lines can be run in the foot paths and connect to each bed. A good irrigation system can isolate different beds for different requirements. The techniques used for growing can include inter-planting, succession gardening and square-foot gardening. Location is only limited to your imagination. You don’t need open fields or large areas. Patios and rooftops provide enough space to grow plentiful crops.
Raised Bed Gardening