The raised bed is a method of gardening that essentially situates your gardening bed above the ground. An enclosure is build then placed above the soil. Soil from your garden or commercial gardening soil can added to the enclosure. Add a two inch layer of compost or dried manure to enrich the soil. Mix well to a depth of eighteen inches.
A raised bed offers several advantages over conventional gardening. Using a raised bed makes is easier to access and care for your plants. This method provides for better drainage and also reduces attacks by insect, bacterial and fungal pests. It also helps conserve water and discourages weed growth.
A raised bed can be created by simply piling soil above the ground and leveling it off the make a growing area. You can also make a border for your bed with wood, bricks, stone, plastic or composite boards or panels. Redwood and pine are good choices of wood. Cedar is the best wood for creating a raised bed because cedar repels squirrels and many insect pests. Redwood, cedar and pine tend to better resist rot.
Whatever type wood you use, make sure it is not treated with chemicals since harmful chemicals such as arsenic and copper used in processing can leach into the soil and get absorbed by your plants. Chemical contamination is less of a problem when you use old, weathered wooden boards or masonry materials such as bricks or stone.
There are several raised bed enclosure kits available commercially. These kits are inexpensive and well worth the cost. You can also use scrap boards from a supply of construction materials you might have accumulated over the years. Old railroad ties are also suitable for creating a raised bed.
With a border, your raised bed garden will be neater and easier to access. Several raised beds placed strategically in your gardening area can make gardening more of a fun experience. You can create a beautiful and interesting garden layout with companion plants situated in several beds. This will help to reduce and even eliminate the need for pesticides.
The ideal height for the raised bed is two to three feet. This height allows you to easily tend your plants and at the same time reduces back strain. Make your raised bed 3′-4′ wide for easy access. The raised bed can be as long as you choose to make it. Orient your raised bed along an east-west axis for best sunlight exposure.
Growing plants in a raised bed has been shown to produce greater yield per square foot of space because plants can be placed closer together. The raised bed method allows better root development and therefore better plant development because the soil is not compacted by being tread upon by tractors or gardening equipment and by walking on the soil.
Raised bed gardening can provide both convenience and better crop production. A raised bed is inexpensive to build or buy as a kit. The raised bed can also offer the benefit of growing on soil that is not well suited for crops such as rocky, sandy or heavy clay soils. Any vegetable crop can be grown in a raised bed.
When you create a raised bed garden, you make gardening easier and more of a fun experience. Beginning young gardeners are fascinated when they see their first garden plants growing in neat, well organized beds. The experience can have the effect of increasing their interest in gardening.