A raised bed garden? You can grow that!
A raised bed kit special at the store got me thinking about this topic today. If you’re thinking about installing raised beds, here are some tips for success:
- The beauty of raised beds is having planting areas that you don’t step on. This keeps soil structure intact. You can grow more plants in an intensive setting this way. Build them only 4 feet deep so that they can be tended from each side without stepping in.
- Do not line the bottom with plastic or landscape fabric. Many plants will send their roots down into the native soil. If possible, turn native soil and amend with compost/manure before building and filling raised beds on top of that ground.
- Fill beds with real soil (aka loam) mixed with compost/manure. Do not use potting soil and in most cases peat moss is unnecessary.
- Mound the soil up a bit the first year – it will settle at least 2 to 3 inches over the first season.
- Replenish soil with compost/manure annually or mix in chopped leaves in the fall. Every four or five years you’ll want to add more loam as the level will sink over time.
- For areas with several raised beds you can either plant the spaces between beds as lawn or mulch these areas using newspaper/catalogs with mulch on top.
- Watering: as with all vegetable/annual/perennial gardens, deep soaking less often is better than a little every day. Soaker hoses are good for putting the water directly into the soil and not on the foliage. But if you water with a sprinkler that gets the leaves wet, try to do your watering in the morning so they dry quickly. Attention: Hand watering is never enough. Face facts…you get bored long before your plants get a good deep soaking.
- It’s possible in well-amended raised beds to plant things very close together – this produces a good crop and shades out weeds. You can usually cut recommended planting distances in half.
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