Looking to get a jump on spring? Have limited space for your garden? Does your soil have poor drainage? Raised gardening is the answer to all those problems, and more. Gardening in a raised bed keeps you off your hands and knees, promotes water drainage and allows soil to warm more quickly in the spring. In addition, you can start raised gardening with little or no initial investments.
Make Your Bed
You’ll only need a few hours outdoors to get your raised bed started. Materials such as old boards, fence posts, stone, brick and block can be position to create the walls of your raised bed garden. Simply stack materials on the ground, creating walls approximately 2 feet high to promote deep root systems for your future garden plants. If you use brick, block or stone, remember to stagger each row for sturdier walls. Wooden walls will need more assembly, often requiring nails or screws at corners to stay in place under the weight of soil and water inside the raised bed.
Free Raised Bed
While you can use leftover materials and rocks harvested from your property to make a raised bed for free, another method of building raised beds requires no investment, except for your time. You can create wall-less raised beds by simply piling stop soil a minimum of 8-inches thick and leveling the top surface for planting. Beds will require rebuilding each year, as erosion can quickly dismantle this type of raised bed.
Adding Soil and Soil Amendments
Combine top soil and soil amendments such as aged manure and finished compost inside the walls of the raised bed. If you’re raised gardening without beds, add the top soil and soil amendments before creating the beds. Manure and compost help to provide nutrients to future plants and the crumbly materials help the soil to retain water, instead of draining so quickly.
Soil inside raised gardens warms more quickly than ground-level gardens, allowing gardeners to plant days and weeks earlier than traditional gardening. Follow recommended planting temperatures and measure the temperature in your raised beds to determine the best planting time for each individual type of flower and vegetable you place in the bed. You can even plant flowers and vegetables closer in raised beds, as long as you are willing to water your garden more frequently.
Ground-level gardening requires watering once per week, on average. Raised beds are designed to promote water drainage, so to keep plants with an adequate supply of water you will need to water as often as every two to three days. The more plants you have, the quicker roots will absorb water, and watering frequency may be required as often as each day, especially during times of drought.
Frequent watering quickly washes nutrients out of the soil in your raised garden beds. To keep a steady supply of nutrients, you will need to increase the frequency of fertilizing plants, as you increase watering times. You may fertilize with synthetic chemicals or use organic compost tea instead.