Welcome to the wonderful world of gardening, a hobby that doesn’t just help you pass the time and helps you get constant breaths of fresh air, but also the hobby that renders tasty and healthy results that you can actually add to your dishes. Gardening is beneficial in a lot of different ways, and even those who don’t care for planting herbs, fruits, or vegetables, can landscape their yards with beautiful flowers, trees, shrubs, or bushes.
A very particular “trend” in this field is making raised garden beds. The name itself is pretty hinting, but just to make sure that we’re putting you on the right path towards next-level gardening, we’re going to talk more about the benefits of a raised garden bed, as well as show you how you can make one of your own.
Benefits of Raised Garden Beds
Raised garden beds aren’t just aesthetically pleasing, but they can also be very bountiful when you decide to use them for a good harvest. For optimal results, consider the following:
- Raised beds usually have dense planting, which means fewer weeds for you to worry about.
- These garden beds are also easier to deal with in terms of critters and pests. When you’re dealing with large garden rows, it’s easy for pest control to get, well, out of control. If need be, you can use special covers to keep pests away from your beds.
- When you raise your soil, you have the added benefit of better drainage. If you live in an area where floods occur on a regular basis, you know just how important soil drainage is. Since the average height for a raised bed is about 11 inches, that’s plenty of drainage for a wide variety of plants.
- Another benefit of raised beds is the fact that you can plant earlier than usual. Since the soil is capable of drying out faster and getting warmer quicker, you will have the perfect conditions to plant ahead of time.
- Bonus: they are also a great gardening start for beginners. Heads-up: they might require a larger initial investment, but you will see the results within the first year. Just make sure you follow some basic gardening rules and you’re good to go.
Potential Drawbacks of Raised Garden Beds
Let’s make something clear: the benefits of opting for raised garden bed boxes heavily outweigh the disadvantages. However, you might come across a few problems in some specific scenarios, so this section is more of a way to keep you prepared for all possible situations.
Potential Problem #1:
Depending on how high your raised garden bed is, you might find it more difficult to fiddle with the soil, in case you need to. That means that introducing a shovel into the equation can turn out to be complicated if your bed measures too much.
If you opt for a good soil mix, you won’t have to temper with the ground too much. Should your soil be in need of additional nutrients, you can always add more compost on the top of your raised garden bed and leave worms to handle the rest.
Potential Problem #2:
Raised garden beds can be tricky when it comes to maintaining a certain level of soil moisture. Plenty of people say that these gardens need more water compared to the amount required for what’s planted directly into the soil. Since the bed is elevated, the soil will warm up faster and dry out quicker. Also, when you’re dealing with this planting technique, you are dealing with dense planting, which means more water loss due to transpiration.
There is actually more than one solution to this water retention problem. First off, keep in mind that there is such a thing as good watering practices, and they can make or break your efforts of succeeding in this whole raised bed gardening endeavor. One way to do things is to water the plants only in the mornings and evenings. This will make sure that your plants get water when they need it.
Remember that water in the top layer of the soil is prone to evaporation, and there is very little you can do to control that. However, water that penetrates deep into the soil will actually reach your plants’ roots. As your plants grow, so does their network of roots, which means that you need to make sure that water gets about six to ten inches deep into the soil.
You will also need soil that’s capable of retaining water if you want to avoid water loss as much as possible. If you opt for soil that has plenty of organic matter, know that it can retain water for multiple days in a row. This gives your crops a chance to absorb more moisture.
Also, if you don’t mind putting in the extra effort, you can always add some impermeable plastic on the inner side of the walls of your raised garden bed. This is helpful because the wood that you’re using to make the walls of your bed will most likely attract some moisture itself, absorbing water that would otherwise be of service for your plants.
Basics of a Raised Garden Bed
A lot of people turn to raised garden beds because of two reasons: they look amazing and can render results faster because you have more control over the soil in which your plants can thrive. But there are some things that you have to pay attention to if you want your gardening efforts to yield the best results.
Light is an important part of a plant’s growth phase. How much light will shine on your raised garden beds is crucial in determining if your plants will survive and if your production will be fruitful? You want your plants to get at least six hours of sun every day, particularly if you want to grow vegetables (such as tomatoes), fruits (like strawberries), or herbs (such as rosemary).
If your yard doesn’t have at least one spot with six hours of sun every day, don’t be discouraged. You can still plant ornamental plants (such as ferns), but make sure that you read about it first so you’ll know the sun requirements beforehand. This will avoid frustration with certain plants not growing because of insufficient sunlight.
Your soil is another key factor that will determine the success or failure in growing the best plants and most tasty-looking vegetables and fruits. If you’re already making the effort to create your own raised garden bed box, make sure you invest in top-quality soil as well. You will also have to feed your plants on a regular basis.
In order to make the best out of your new gardening project, remember the following rule: it will be easier for you if you just group plants that require the same amount of water as part of their growth process. For instance, planting a vegetable that requires plenty of water with a plant that requires barely any water to survive will most likely lead to one of them dying.
Raised Garden Bed Vegetable & Fruit Ideas
A lot of people are turning to a raised garden bed for planting vegetables because it gives them a head start. If you’re not sure what veggies and fruits are suitable for the occasion, here are some tips to help you get started:
- Cucumbers are vegetables that require well-drained soil, making them yet another suitable candidate for raised beds. An important rule to keep in mind when planting cucumbers is that they tend to take over the entire space, so make sure that you plant them alone. Installing them near a trellis is also a good idea, because these plants will grow vertically like no other.
- Aside from being super healthy, tomatoes are also a great ingredient for making a huge variety of recipes and tasty dips to go with your snacks. Tomatoes are great for raised bed planting because they are very sensitive to weed growth, which isn’t exactly a problem when you opt for this gardening technique. They also don’t do well when it comes to pests and slugs, which is more of a reason to plant them in such a high garden bed. Make sure that your bed has tall posts at every corner, in order to tie the vines around them with twine.
- Potatoes are the vegetable champion. If there was an award for the most versatile vegetable, potatoes would win it. But did you know how simple it is to grow them in a raised garden bed? You have to make sure that you mix them in with plenty of straw.
- Carrots are highly nutritious and a great vegetable to start your raised garden bed experience with. They strive in higher and deeper beds (you can also go for shorter beds if you plant French carrots, which are a tinier variety).
- Lettuce is the king of salads, but it also looks great when it’s ready for harvesting. Since it loves warm soil, lettuce is a great vegetable for raised garden beds, and you have the added benefit of being able to seed them early and harvest them later in the season.
- Radishes may be small, but they have a lot of personality when it comes to being pretentious about how and where they grow. They require well-drained soil, but it shouldn’t be too dry either, which is highly controllable when you opt for raised garden bed planting.
- If you’ve planted zucchini before, then you already know that it has a tendency of growing all over the place. When you plant it in a raised garden bed, you can keep this crop under control, and enjoy some delicious autumn stews after a fruitful crop.
- Blueberries are delicious, there’s no arguing about that. Also, they aren’t that complicated when it comes to raising them on your own. Since they need well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight, they make excellent raised bed candidates.
How to Make a Raised Garden Bed Box
Now that you’re probably a bit hyped about making your own raised garden bed box, you should know that the process is fairly easy, and you don’t really need a lot of experience.
To make your very own raised garden bed, you will need:
- 4 x long pieces of wood (I used 2x6x10)
- 4 x shorter pieces of wood (I used 2x6x4)
- 10 x spikes (I used 2×4 and cut them down)
- Box of screws
- A rake
- A level
- Tape measure
- A drill
- A shovel
- One angle-square
Once you have acquired all the tools and materials above, it’s time to get to work!
Step by Step: How to Build Your Raised Garden Bed
Step One: Plan the Frame
- The first step requires you to determine the size of your frame. This will heavily depend on the size of space you have to work with. I have a rather large backyard, so I planned for a 4-foot by 10-foot bed. But you can make it whatever size you want!
- Once your size is established, you will have to rake the soil. This will make it nice and even, the perfect base for your raised garden bed.
Step Two: Assemble the Frame
- It’s now time to create the frame walls. Start by taking the 4 long pieces and placing them together in two parts.
- Then take three of the spikes and screw to the ends and the middle of the two long pieces. Repeat for the other two long pieces. These are now your long sides
- Grab the angle-square to make sure that your posts and rails are angled properly.
- Then do the same with the four shorter pieces. These will be your garden box ends.
- Now, take one side and one end, place them together in a 90-degree angle. Use your level and square to make sure everything is straight. Then screw together. Repeat for the other sides. Now you have a rectangle frame!
Step Three: Placing the Frame
- To make sure that your garden bed stays in place, take the 2×4 spikes and cut the ends into triangles. It will make it easier to stick in the ground.
- Then use the 2-by-4 stakes and hammer them into the ground, making sure they’re placed in the middle of the frame’s outer walls. This way, your stakes will support the raised garden bed box. Make sure that you also use screws to fasten the spikes.
- Repeat the step above three more times, so that you have a spike supporting each of the outer walls.
Step Four: Filling with Soil
- When everything is in place, it’s time to fill the bed with soil. You can also mix the soil with compost, organic matter, or whatever other mixture you plan on using to feed your veggies.
- Use the rake to even it all out.
Step Five: Planting!
- After giving the soil a proper watering, you’re all good to start planting. I used a mixture of my family’s favorite veggies but added Marigolds on the sides to keep out the neighbourhood cats.
Raised garden beds are perfect for novice gardeners and experts alike. They make a garden seem more organized, so there’s the visual benefit to keep in mind. But, aside from that, they give more control over soil factors, such as temperature or drainage. It also prevents “nosy” crops, such as zucchini, from spreading more than they should and taking over other crops’ space.
There is a wide variety of veggies and fruits that you can plant in a raised garden bed, but don’t underestimate its efficiency in flower growth either. However, flowers tend not to be that picky compared to vegetables and fruits, so people would much rather plant them directly in the soil instead of making the effort of constructing a raised bed from scratch.