Raised Garden Beds

Raised Garden Beds are a great way to grow vegetables.

Raised garden beds take many forms from the ones you build yourself from scratch to theRaised garden bed ones you buy and plonk on the ground and fill up with soil.

There are many advantages of raised garden beds

  • Less Bending this can be a real bonus for anyone with back problems.
  • Weeding is much easier so long as you don’t make the bed too big you can reach the weeds more easily.
  • Good over paving – you can put it on top of any flat surface.
  • Solves your Soil problems – if you have problem soil like lots of rocks, heavy clay soil or even really sandy soil a raised garden bed can save you heaps of work trying to improve your natural soil.
  • Adds height to your garden – sometimes you just want to add a bit of interest in your garden the addition of height.
  • good idea for renters – while it may not be the easiest thing to do you can just pack it up and take it with you when you move.
  • Pest prevention – raising the bed can make it more difficult for rabbits dogs and other animals to get to your crops. It should also cut down on slugs and snails.
  • Improved drainage
  • There are lots of options
  • The smaller ones can be great for small areas like balconies.
  • If they a small you may be able to move them around periodically if you need to.

So why doesn’t everyone have one?

  • Cost –  they cost more than just digging a hole in the ground. Not only will you have to pay for the materials for the walls of the bed you also need to fill them with lots of new soil and compost.

    They can be really handy

    They can be really handy

  • Filling it can be a pain – where are you going to get the soil to go in it.
  • Heating and cooling- the soil in a raised bed will heat up and cool down more quickly than a bed in the ground.
  •   If your bed is raised off the ground it will probably need more water as the increased air flow will dry the soil out more quickly.
  • Looks – some people find them really unappealing to look at
  • How are you going to dig it? Sometimes you need to dig things like compost in it can be more difficult to dig depending on how high it is and you will probably need to use small hand tools rather than a spade.

Ground Preparation

If the sides of your raised bed is over a foot high you probably need little or no ground preparation. If you are putting it on a hard surface like concrete so long  as it is pretty flat you’ll need none. If you are putting it over a grassed area and it is less than 1 foot high you will need to dig out the existing grass and remove any weeds otherwise the grass and weeds will just grow up through your garden – beleive me you don’t want this to happen. You can either dig up the existing grass, spray it with a glyphosate containing weed killer or cover it with a thick layer of newspaper – about 20 sheets. You will need to wait for the grass or weeds to die off then give it a dig over to improved the drainage before putting your new raised bed on top. Make sure you leave an area around the bed grass free or eventually the grass will grow up into the bed.

Filling a Raised Garden Bed

Remember vegetables need a depth of about 12 to 18 inches of good rich to grow.

The soil needs to be rich and should include lots of compost and manure. If you purchased a raised planter kit it should come with some recommendations for how to fill it.

You can buy premium planter mixes from your local garden centre.  If your bed is deeper than about 18 inches you can use sand or any other soil to fill up the bottom I would avoid clay as you don’t want affect the drainage. If you have access to some good garden soil by all means use it in the bottom section but you should have 1 foot to 18 inches of premium quality compost rich vegetable soil mix in the top. Some gardeners use straw bales in the bottom of a raised bed but these will become waterlogged, rot down and become a bit stinky over time.  Your bed will need to be topped up from time to time with premium veggie mix and compost.