Raised Bed Gardening Basics for The Beginning Gardener
If you're looking for a new way to garden, perhaps raised garden bed is for you. It's easy to learn and doesn't require a lot of physical exertion. More important, it can help you create a productive garden space with little effort.
Raised bed gardening is a gardening method that is rapidly gaining popularity because it can make your home garden more efficient and easy to use. Elevated beds allow gardeners to use optimal soil while raising the surface of the soil to a comfortable working height. You see these plants up close, and their roots enjoy good drainage and easy access to nutrients. Elevated beds also allow dense planting and soil to heat up earlier in the spring than underground garden beds.
In this blog post, we'll discuss the benefits of raised bed gardening and provide tips to get started. Let's get started!
Raised bed gardening: The basics
Raised bed gardening is a type of gardening that elevates the soil above ground level. This is usually done by piling up soil or using enclosed structures (usually large boxes made of wood, blocks, or metal). The goal of elevated bed gardening is to create a deep and wide growing area that encourages plant roots to grow downward and outward. Elevated garden beds are most commonly used to grow vegetables, but can also be used for other food plants, ornamental flowers or as an herb garden.
This type of gardening is beneficial because it allows for better drainage and easier access to nutrients. Also, elevated bed gardens are easier to maintain and more efficient than underground gardens. Finally, raising the garden soil above ground level helps it warm up quickly in the spring and makes it easier to work in the garden by reducing the curved distance from the soil when planting and caring for the garden.
The benefits of raised bed gardening
With a raised bed, you can create a deep and wide growing area of rich soil that encourages plant roots to grow downward and outward. Soil quality is also usually better in raised beds, because you can control the type of soil that goes into the bed. This can be especially beneficial if you are dealing with challenging native soil conditions. This includes areas with heavy clay, low organic matter, compacted soil, or potentially contaminated soil.
Raised beds are often easier to grow seeds and vegetable plant seedlings when the surface is raised, which means you don't have to bend over as much as you would in an underground garden. It also means loft beds are perfect for people with back problems. Elevated beds also place plants at eye level for better observation of pest problems.
Weeds are also not a problem on the loft bed because you start with clean soil, not native soil that contains seeds from local weed plants. In addition, elevated beds can be accommodated with edge material to further discourage weed growth.
If you are looking for a more efficient garden, elevated bed gardening may be for you. Plants can grow faster in elevated beds because the soil is loose and well-drained. The proximity of plants also allows them to better compete for light, water and nutrients, resulting in healthier plants.
An introduction to loft bed gardening
Now that we've discussed the benefits of loft bed gardening, let's talk about how to get started.
The first step is to choose a location for your loft bed garden. Elevated beds can be placed on any level surface, including concrete patios, decks and driveways. Elevated beds should be placed in areas that receive at least six hours of sunlight a day.
Once you've chosen the location, it's time to choose the materials for your elevated bed. You can build them yourself from scratch or choose from a number of elevated bed kits.
Raised beds can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, composite wood, stone, brick, concrete blocks, galvanized metal or weathering steel. If you use wood, be sure to choose a preservative variety, such as cedar or redwood. There are also many excellent non-toxic wood preservative products.
You will also need to choose the size of the elevated bed. Raised beds can be any size, but it's important to make sure they're not so big that you can't get from the edges to the middle. A 4-foot width is generally considered the maximum width, while most beds are between 4 and 8 feet long.
Once you've chosen your materials and dimensions, it's time to build your loft bed. If you are using wood, you will need to assemble the wood into a rectangular frame. If you are using stones or bricks, you will need to lay the stones or bricks in a rectangular pattern.
Raised bed soil
Once you've built your loft bed, it's time to fill it with soil. Avoid using existing soil unless you have soil tested. Instead, take the opportunity to create a healthy mix of soils. You can also add amendments, such as compost or manure, to the soil to improve its quality.
The standard soil mix for the elevated bed is equal to:
Organic material in bulk, such as coir or sphagnum moss
Porous mineral material, such as perlite, vermiculite, or sand
Nutrient rich compost
You can also mix specialty soil amendments including worm castings, rock powder, and general purpose slow release organic fertilizers in the top 6 inches of soil.
Plant in a loft bed garden
Raised bed gardens are easy to plant. Since soil has just been added, there are no roots to dig up and no weeds to pull up. The soil temperature of the elevated bed will also warm up earlier in the spring, so you can get your gardening season off to a quick start.
Spring planting of elevated bed gardens can begin as soon as the soil thaws in early spring and can work. This is the time to plant cold season crops. This includes root crops such as carrots, radishes and beets as well as leafy greens such as lettuce, kale and spinach. Peas are also good vegetable plants. If a hard freeze is predicted, protect the plant with anti-freeze protection like a row cover.
Warm season crops can be grown on elevated beds once nighttime temperatures drop well above freezing. This includes garden favorites such as tomatoes, peppers, squash and other large vegetables that do well on hot summer days. You can continue your continuous planting by replanting cool-season vegetables in late summer after harvesting warm season vegetables.
Plant spacing in Raised garden beds
Proper plant spacing is important in elevated garden beds to ensure that your plants have enough room to grow. The exact spacing will depend on the type of plant you are growing, but a general rule of thumb is to space most vegetable plants so that they are about 6 inches apart. Smaller vegetables such as carrots and radishes can be kept closer together, while larger vegetables such as tomatoes and zucchini need to be 2 feet closer between plants. This will give them plenty of room to spread their roots and grow without crowding.
Water the raised bed garden
Regular watering is the key to producing the most vegetables in an outdoor space. While you can water an elevated garden using a garden hose or sprinkler, the easiest way is to install an automatic drip irrigation system.
Drip irrigation systems use drip irrigation pipes or soaking hoses to deliver water directly to the roots of plants, so there is less evaporation and runoff. They can also save you time because you can set them to a timer to water your garden. For most systems, if it has rained recently, you can tell the system to skip watering, which helps reduce excess water use.
When to fertilize raised garden beds
Fertilizing Raised garden beds is important to keep plants healthy and productive. The best time to apply fertilizer is in the spring with slow release organic fertilizer. Wait until the soil thaws (usually before the ground does, as the elevated beds warm faster in the spring). Follow the directions on the fertilizer of your choice to reapply throughout the growing season.
This is also a good time to add 1-inch organic compost topdressing. Compost not only provides nutrients, but also improves soil tillage by adding organic matter. It also acts as a surface mulch to suppress weeds and regulate soil moisture and temperature.
Cover the Raised bed garden
Mulching elevated garden beds is also important for productive elevated bed gardens. Mulch helps suppress weeds, retain moisture, and keep the soil cool during the summer months. A good rule of thumb is to add a 1- to 2-inch thick layer of mulch around the plant at the beginning of the growing season. You can use any type of mulch, including straw, grass clippings, leaves, wood chips, or organic compost.
Weeding loft garden
Even with mulch, you will still need to do some weeding throughout the season. Hand weeding is the best way because you can be more selective about what you pull. Be sure to weed regularly, as weeds can steal nutrients and water from plants if left unchecked.
When to harvest from the loft bed garden
The timing of the harvest will depend on the type of plant you are planting. Usually, cold-season vegetables can be planted in early spring for harvest in late spring or early summer. Warm season vegetables are planted in late spring for late summer/early fall harvest. You can replant cool-season crops in late summer/early fall to harvest late fall or overwinter vegetables.
Raised bed garden maintenance
Raised garden beds require some basic maintenance to remain productive. This includes the annual addition of organic matter to the soil, fertilization, mulching and weed control. With a little care, your elevated garden bed will provide you with a bumper harvest for many years to come!