Raised Bed Gardening
Gardening in raised beds was a common practice before colonial times. It is currently enjoying a popular resurgence because of smaller home lots and smaller families. This has led to smaller planting areas and areas that are more convenient to maintain. Raised bed gardening is fun and enjoyable for the gardening enthusiast.
What are "Raised Beds"?
A raised bed garden is exactly what is sounds like. A garden on or in a ‘raised bed’. Mostly though you’re not raising the height of your entire garden, rather you’re raising it in little bits and pieces. You accomplish this using large containers, or pots. Troughs are also a favorite, as they provide a longer length for the gardener to work with.
The "raised" part means that the soil level in the bed is higher than the surrounding area, and the "bed" part means that the size is small enough to work without actually stepping onto the bed. A bed usually is no wider than 4 feet, but the length can be whatever works for the site or for your needs. The bed does not have to be enclosed or framed, but framing has several advantages which I'll talk more about below.
Advantages of Raised Beds
1. They Look Great
The first reason is purely for aesthetics. Raised beds have a kind of "WOW" factor to them. They just look great.
2. They are Easier to Work
3. You'll Get Higher Yields
When you create a raised bed, it will generally be filled with high-quality soil which improves drainage and increases yield or plant quality.
In a traditional home garden, good management may result in about one half pounds of vegetables per square foot. Records of production over three years in a raised bed at Dawes Arboretum near Newark, Ohio, indicate an average of 1.24 pounds per square foot.
Raised beds do not require the usual space between rows for walking so vegetables can be planted at higher densities. Also, the denser plantings help reduce weed infestations.
4. Pest Control is Easier
5. You Can Conserve Water
The narrow dimensions of beds are well suited for using watering systems that are "of themselves", water conservation systems. These include soaker hoses, perforated plastic sprinkle hoses and drip-type irrigation systems. These all work well in covering long, narrow areas.
There is a slight downside to the watering and that is that elevated beds tend to dry out more quickly in the summer months, increasing the need for watering.
How Do You Make Your Bed?
In general, there are three ways you can create a raised bed planting area.
Wood products should be treated with wood preservative. If you are going to construct your own bed framework from wood, then you'll want it treated because wood rot will become a problem over time.
Is there a problem with using treated lumber in vegetable beds?
Some gardeners still prefer to line the sides of beds with polyethylene plastic so that roots will not come in contact with the treated wood, however, don't use plastic on the bottom of the beds since this will prevent drainage
In conclusion, there are many benefits to raised bed gardening. I think the best ones are that you don't have to get down on your hands and knees to work your garden and you get to stay out of the mud. Maybe we could called raised bed gardening, the gardening method of getting more for less.
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