29 September 2008

Frugal Gardener: Benefit & Design of Raised Beds

I've heard gardeners talk of raised beds as the answer to so many gardening limitations. One friend had a real boggy area. Another had stoney soil from past construction projects. Others have limited space. The Vegetable Garden Guide tell you everything you need to know about this and many other gardening topics!

Create Raised Garden Beds for Higher Vegetable Yields
Raised garden beds have been used for centuries and with good reason – they're not only better for all the vegetables that you intend to grow but they're also easier on your back - built at an appropriate level raised beds can help reduce the aches and pains produced by kneeling or bending over a vegetable patch.

They can be built using wood, landscaping ties, decorative paving slabs, or stone - with or without mortar (use your imagination for other materials). They should be no wider than 120cm(4ft) so your vegetable plants situated in the middle of the bed can be reached from both sides.

Raised garden beds are the perfect answer if your topsoil is thin or full of stones - they are especially useful where space is limited in your vegetable garden as the spacings between plants can be less.

These type of beds make it much easier to introduce a rich and balanced growing environment. Do this by filling the raised beds with the soil of your choice and adding plenty of well rotted manure or compost, then maintaining and adding to this over time.

Soil conditions and types can be controlled more efficiently in a raised garden bed and can be varied easily from bed to bed.

Importantly, soil in raised beds does not get compacted because it is not walked on - soil needs water and air to function, compaction robs it of both. Therefore soils that aren’t compacted have a greater ability to hold plant-available-water, are less cloddy, allow for greater vegetable root growth and give higher plant yields.

Soil compaction can reduce harvest by up to 50 percent - so compaction is serious.

Organic matter like composted manure or your own garden compost can be increased in larger quantities without getting bogged down. Soil in raised garden beds warms up faster in spring because it drains more efficiently than soil at ground level - thus enabling earlier planting of spring vegetables.

Jill's Note: It's just another way we can use resources well, growing for ourselves and possibly sharing the surplus. The process is good for our souls too.

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