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Do I Need Raised Beds For Growing Vegetables?

Do I Need Raised Beds For Growing Vegetables?

If you’re interested in growing vegetables, you might be considering raised beds. Here are a few of the advantages to growing vegetables in raised beds:

  • If your native soil is very compact or pure sand, a raise bed allows you to fill the planting space with a combination of loam and compost.
  • Raised beds keep the planting area clearly defined. They have a tidy look that many appreciate.
  • Raised beds create planting areas that don’t get walked on. This preserves the soil structure and allows the soil to sta loose so that plants will grow quickly. (Most people with raised beds don’t use equipment to turn the soil – if they need to turn the soil it’s usually done with a shovel)
  • If the raised beds are tall enough, it allows for tending without bending over.

When deciding what type of vegetable beds are best, think about what you need a raised bed to do. If you want to have the garden up high, for example, you’ll need the taller sides. If you want to be able to sit on the edges while you pull weeds or harvest, you’ll need sides that are about two feet tall and wide enough to comfortably perch on.

Know that the taller the beds are the more soil you’ll need to fill them. Use a combination of loam and compost but never pure compost. One eighth to one quarter compost is enough. The photos below show some options.

We have raised bed kits that are made of a long-lasting plastic. They are fit together with corners that hold them in place without nailing etc.
This is an example of a tall bed that you can tend without bending over. We have two of these set up at the garden center.
Some people make their beds out of lumber. Just be sure that the size of your bed allows you to tend it from either side without stepping into the bed and compacting the soil.
We carry these Big Bag Beds by Smartpots. Open them up, place them wherever you want to grow your vegetables (full sun is best!), fill with soil and start growing! This photo was taken in Quebec City where vegetables were being grown in the middle of the downtown. But you can put a Big Bag Bed anywhere…on a driveway, in your backyard, or next to the garage.
You can get the same benefit of growing intensely in an area that isn’t being walked on even if your beds aren’t raised. Here is a vegetable garden that is laid out just like a raised bed garden but there are no walls or framework around the planting areas.

For raised bed success, don’t put anything at the bottom of the bed: no plastic, landscape fabric, rocks or boards. If possible, turn the native soil before the raised bed is put in place. Then put the framework over that tilled area and fill your bed with loam or a loam/compost mix. This will allow the plants’ roots to grow down into the native soil, which makes for stronger plants.

Need more help deciding which option is best for you? Come into the store to talk with a staff member, or attend the Vegetable Gardening Sunday Seminar on March 8th at 1 PM. Note: Cost is $10 and because space is limited you must call the store to register in advance. 508-775-8703

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