Growing In Raised Bed Vegetable Gardens
Try planting raised bed vegetable gardens, if you want to make sure that you actually take care of your vegetable garden, rather than letting it waste away in a remote corner of your yard. There are a variety of ways to design and build them, as well as many specific techniques that will help you get the most vegetables out of your available space. I love raised beds, because the more vegetables your garden produces, the less likely you are to notice that your
friendly garden gnome
has taken a few for himself!
Benefits Of Raised Bed Vegetable Gardens
Here are some of the reasons raised beds produce such a huge number of vegetables:
- By raising the beds, you walk in them less and that keeps the soil from being compacted;
- The soil is loose to a low depth, which allows the plant roots and root hairs to grow far into the soil in search of water. The plants can take full advantage of available water, even deep in the soil. (There is a lot of good stuff down there for plants to take advantage of, if they can get their roots all the way down. I should know; it’s my home!);
- You can space vegetables intensely, rather than in mono-cultural rows. That means that you get more use out of the available horizontal space and the canopy of the closely growing plants shades out the weeds and keeps the soil cooler;
- If you have a hard time getting down on your hands and knees, this type of gardening can help you stay in the garden, comfortably, by bringing the plants up closer to you;
- The intense planting scheme allows you to practice “companion planting,” and grow plants together that help each other. For example, radishes work as insect repellent around lettuce and cucumber plants. Roses and society garlic do well together. Peas and beans are great in any garden, because they replenish nitrogen in the soil.
To get even greater benefit from your raised bed vegetable garden, read the article on
as well as the one about
square foot gardening.
Instructions For Planting
Building your raised beds is only part of this gardening technique. Planting is the second piece of the puzzle. Generally, raised bed gardening involves planting closer together than you would normally think of planting a vegetable garden. You should also plant in blocks, rather than rows.
At the same time, rather than planting an entire package of seeds and thinning out the excess plants as they begin to grow, you plant seeds with spacing according to the final size of the mature plants. You will also plant vegetables, herbs and flowers together, rather than segregating one type of plant to one side of the garden. The flowers will attract pollinators for your vegetables, and can help keep damaging insects away.
Unique Growing Structures
The intense spacing and interplanting used in raised bed gardening requires some special structures to keep cucumbers from clobbering the spinach and tomatoes from taking up all of the space.
Cucumbers, summer squash, peas, runner beans and indeterminate tomatoes can all be trained up trellises, strings, or lattices. Tomatoes can be caged, but tying them to a lattice or trellis can be just as effective.
Always remember to plant your tall plants on the northern side of your garden so that they do not shade out the plants around them.
In general, flat growing structures take up less space than cages, but require you to do more pruning of your plants.
Planting a raised bed vegetable garden is a good way to grow a lot of vegetables in a small space.
Try it - your friendly garden gnome will thank you!
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