Copyright (c) 2012 Jack Russell
Raised bed gardens are the answer for people around the world who are struggling with trying to grow plants in poor soil conditions. A raised garden bed allows gardeners to completely control the soil in which they plant their vegetables, allowing them to avoid trying to improve the native soil by just completely bypassing it.
How a Raised Bed Garden Works
A raised bed garden is built right on top of the native soil in a garden. This is done in a couple of different ways.
The first method is to simply pile new soil on top of the native solid without any kind of barrier in between or any container to hold it in. This is the easy method. The more difficult, advanced method is to construct a container that holds the new soil in and keeps it from mixing with the native soil underneath. This method allows for much more control of the new garden bed.
Advantages of Raised Bed Gardens
In addition to allowing gardeners to grow their plants in soil that is a vast improvement over its native counterpart, a raised bed garden offers many other advantages for those who take the time to construct them.
One of the most important advantages is the ability to plant early with a raised garden bed. The increased height allows the soil to warm up much more quickly in the spring, which allows it to be worked and planted much sooner in the year. This means more time for the plants to grow and a better yield in most cases.
Another advantage is that the soil in a raised bed does not get compacted like soil in the ground does. This gives plants growing in a raised bed a major advantage. Since the soil is not compacted, the roots of the plants do not have to struggle to push through the soil. The energy the plants save because of this is transferred to growing the plant above ground, which will lead to bigger harvests.
One more advantage to these raised beds is the ability to specifically modify the soil to the exact requirements of the plant that is being grown in each particular bed. Many separate raised beds can be placed next to each other in one garden, and each one of them can hold a different kind of soil that is suited to the particular plant that is being grown in it. This is simply not possible with a traditional garden where all the soil is basically the same.
Building a Raised Bed Garden
The first step is to make sure to build the bed on a site that gets at least eight hours of sunlight a day. This area should be flat and have a water source nearby. Those wishing to build a raised bed without a container simply need to dump six inches of the new, rich soil on top of the existing soil.
Most people will build their raised beds with the container method. Wood is the most inexpensive material to use for construction of the containers. 2×6 boards are perfect for this, but be sure to use a wood that is resistant to rotting. Level off the boards to avoid future drainage problems, nail them together and then fill the containers to the top with the new soil.