Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

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This article will help you get started in growing your own vegetables.
by Brett · All Zones · Food Gardens · 0 Comments · June 14, 2010 · 14,372 views

What is a 'raised bed' garden?

The 'raised' part means that the garden soil level is higher than the surrounding soil, and 'bed' implies size small enough to work without actually stepping on the bed. A bed should be no wider than 4' but can be as long as desired. The bed does not have to be enclosed or framed, however framing offers other opportunities. Raised bed gardens are perfect where space is limited.

There are many reasons for the raised bed revival, but probably the most important reasons are the greater level of production per square foot of garden and the ease of working. Studies have shown that the average gardner can produce twice the amount of vegetables per square foot in raised beds as opposed to conventional gardens. Raised beds don't require as much space between rows because no walking is done inside the bed to cultivate or harvest. Hence, vegetables are spaced in raised bed at a distance just enough to aviod crowding, but close enough to shade out weeds.

Another reason for increased production in a given space is improvement of soil conditions. There is no compaction of soil in a raised bed as there is no treading or tilling performed with heavy tillers or tractors. Compost or other soil ammendments can be added in greater amounts to the smaller areas of beds with none going to waste. Raised beds also keep the moisture content of the soil more consistently even during excess rain periods. Most vegetables do not like wet feet.

The gardener shares some benefits from raised bed gardening too. The foremost is timely planting. Conventional gardeners must wait for a dry period to begin planting, however raised beds don't get boggy and can be planted whenever the gardener is ready. Rows between beds can be sodded, mulched, or paved with bricks or steppings stones to avoid muddy feet. Raised beds also make it easier come harvest time because the gardener doesn't have to bend over as far, if at all. Raised beds can be from 6" to 24" in height, or higher. Pest control becomes easier too. Before building a raised bed lay some chicken wire or hardware cloth down to discourage moles. Low fences can be attached to discourage rabbits or other small animals from entering the bed. Plant perennial 'Bog Salvia' plants nearby the bed(s) to repel deer. Weed control can be achieved much easier in beds with weed barrier fabric.

Raised beds are also perfect for drip or soaker hose irrigation where water can be dispersed only where it is needed. Soaker hoses also reduce disease. Design your beds keeping the length of irrigation hose and the width of weed barrier fabric in mind.

Certain vining vegetables such as squash, cucumbers, and melons may not be suitable for raised beds and might be better grown in other areas at ground level.




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