Copyright (c) 2012 Jack Russell
Raised bed gardens are a boon to all sorts of gardening enthusiasts. Some gardeners switch to raised beds to avoid the need to use poor local soil. Others need to squeeze maximum output from minimum space. Still others make the switch because health issues make traditional gardening too difficult. Bed shape and size is limited only by imagination and resources. Perhaps best of all, well designed raised beds can out-produce traditional gardens with less effort.
Easier on the Gardener
Raised beds can range from a mere six inches above ground to hip-height. Gardens may be placed on the ground or on top of sturdy tables. The height of the garden can be critical for people with disabilities, the elderly, or those who simply want less strain. Since beds tend to average 3 feet wide, most gardeners can reach across to tend plants, water, or harvest more easily. Most gardeners will never need to tread on soil in their raised beds, thereby avoiding compacted soil and damaged roots. Those who thought gardening was impossible for their situation might just find raised beds change everything.
Efficient Plant Growth
Traditional gardens lose space to empty access rows between plants. In raised beds plant spacing can be quite dense. By allowing just enough room, where mature plants just skim their neighbor, one creates a weed suppressing environment. Closer spacing also means moisture can be better conserved and shared among plants, creating a micro-climate for plants to thrive. The inclusion of a weed or pest barrier at the bottom of the garden bed may deter even the most pugnacious interloper from gaining entrance.
In a few idyllic places, gardeners have perfect natural soil conditions. For the rest of the gardening world, raised beds can even the playing field. Poor native soil can be avoided completely. These beds allow one to tailor an ideal mixture of weed free soil components. Texture, drainage, and nutrient requirements can be perfectly controlled. These advantages create better harvests.
Extended Growing Season
Gardeners everywhere champ at the bit to plant earlier in spring. Since raised beds are less dependent on the surrounding soil, it’s possible to get a jump on nature. Their increased height allows sunshine to better warm the soil. Warmer soil means earlier seeding, earlier sprouting and transplanting, and earlier harvest. For those who want to stretch the season further yet, there are cold frames that can be built on top of the beds. Determined gardeners might even grow cold season vegetables right through the winter months.
Raised beds have a clean and tidy elegance. Whether as a single bed, or a series of beds arranged in groups, these sorts of gardens can give an attractive and finished look to a property. Designs can be artistic and whimsical, or stately and conservative. Traditional gardens might not be fully accepted in all places. Yet raised bed type gardens are usually viewed as quite tasteful, as well as tasty, and may get nods of instant approval.
Raised bed gardens are popping up faster than weeds all across the country. It’s easy to understand why. They’re thrifty, making good use of fewer resources. They’re good looking. They’re easier to tend for the very young or the elderly. Best of all, since the soil quality is so easy to control, the harvests can be simply amazing.