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Raised Vegetable Garden Beds

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Vegetable Growing.. A recap.

Gardening is a satisfying activity that provides lifetime benefits, a great learning experience. It can also be a
fantastic way to expand your social circle by joining local gardening groups and meeting like-minded people. Vegetable gardening has to be one of the most satisfying of all hobbies. Not only do you get to grow some fantastic varieties, you also get to eat them.

Vegetable growing is one activity that is great to get young children involved with. Not only will they enjoy helping you to plant seedlings and till the soil for seed, those tiny fingers love to drop the seed into the furrows previously prepared.

I always recommend that you allow them to plant and nurture the basic seed varieties, such as beans and radishes as well as seedlings such as loose-leaf lettuce. These vegetables grow quickly and will reward the children in no time for the effort they have put in.

But why not make the whole experience even more enjoyable for all by growing the plants and seeds in raised garden beds.

Raised Vegetable Garden Beds.

All gardeners are aware of the pressure that is placed on their bodies by continually bending over, weeding, planting, cutting and harvesting. In previous articles I have discussed several times the benefits of purchasing tools with long handles, anything to make gardening a better and more healthy experience. There are other ways to relieve pressure on our backs, particularly when it comes to growing and harvesting vegetables.

It’s not just the average gardener that can benefit from utilizing raised beds. Such a garden can also be very suitable for
disabled people, those suffering from arthritis, or simply the elderly, because they are elevated to Ideal levels hence bending over or kneeling down, will not be as necessary.

Below are some further reasons for building “Raised vegetable garden beds”.

Reasons and benefits of raised garden beds:

1. By choosing this type of gardening style you can save yourself some time, and money because you will not be required to install a unique drainage system to provide a perfect environment for your growing
plants.

2. If you live in areas where soil conditions and drainage is poor, this type of gardening will help you create, not only a well-drained surface, but also a fertile garden bed.

3. If you are someone suffering from any medical condition that affects your joints or muscles then raised garden bed are perfect for you. Plants on a raised bed are on an elevated level that makes it comfortable for someone to work on.

4. Raised garden bed are easier to maintain. Organizing your plants, weeding and planting is made a great deal
easier because they are always withing arms length.

5. More nutritious food and herbs. The main reason why raised garden fields yield more nutritious food is the soil is easier to fertilize. Adding manure and mulching become less arduous jobs, that are far more likely to be completed on a regular basis.

6). These gardens’ can protect the young or fragile plants from active young preschoolers, who might otherwise run over the top of beds at ground level. As well as pets, rodent’s and any other potential threats to your vegetables.

How to grow vegetables in raised beds and factors to take into consideration when creating a raised bed for growing vegetables.

Location:

1). You will need a spot in the garden that receives at the very least, six hours of sunshine a day during the growing season.

2). Don’t place the beds to close to big trees that are likely to drop branches and leaves all over them.

3). Preferably locate a position that is near a wall that provides a barrier against any prevailing winds your area might experience.

4). Place the vegetable garden as close to the kitchen as you are able to. You are far more likely to pull out weeds and harvest the plants if you can see them.

5). Make sure you have access to water. A tap and hose close by will make life a lot easier.

6). A North to South aspect is preferable in the Northern hemisphere, and East to West in the southern. Always place larger plants, such as corn, at the rear of the beds so that they don’t cast shadow over the smaller crops.

Designing a Garden Bed.

The design of your garden beds will most likely depend on the size of the garden you possess and it’s shape. Sometimes you need to construct beds that fit in to a given area. Most raised bed are rectangular shaped. But I have seen beds over the years that were triangular, circular, hexagonal and many other shapes. As I said, it depends on how they will best fit in your garden, or the quirkiness of the gardener involved.

Sometimes it can be a struggle to come up with a design you like. Should this be the case with you, do some research on line or check out relevant gardening magazines. If you a member of Pinterest you will find some excellent posts on this subject.

For the most part raised vegetable garden Beds have a rectangular shape that is 3 ft wide by 8 ft long. The height of these beds is totally up to you but I prefer them to be at least a foot high. If you build them to low you loose the benefits you were probably after in the first place. Just remember that the higher you build them, the more garden loam you will need to purchase to fill them.

Choosing the materials:

When choosing a material it should always be something you like as well as being practical. For example, you may love stone walls but this can be difficult to build yourself. Unless you’re a stone mason, I suggest you stick to something you will be able to work with yourself. Below are some suggested material types.

1). Treated timber. (Pressure treated against insect, termite attack).

Many gardeners don’t like using this material because it’s treated and the treatment can leach into the garden bed affecting the vegetables. A way around this is to line the inside of the bed with a thick black plastic, simply nail or staple it to the inside of the timber once your box is constructed. There’s no need to line the bottom of the bed, only the sides. If you can, tuck the plastic under the bottom boards.

As you can see in the picture to the right, the timber boxes can be very simple to construct. These beds are probably not as high as I’d like them to be. I’d prefer at least two widths of the timber shown.

The boxes shown are simply timber that is about 9ft long by 3ft wide, and each plank is about 2 inches thick by 10 inches wide. They are joined using square timber posts 2.5 inches in width. The timber is then nailed or screwed onto the posts. You can then easily maneuver these boxes into position.

If you would like your garden boxes more secure you can make the posts12 inches longer, dig holes for them to slide into and fill with quick drying cement.

2). Stone.

I said this was only for professionals but, for all I know you may be a mason. If you wish to try building a stone will garden bed you will find lots of information available online or in gardening magazines.

3). Galvanized Mesh Walls(also known as Gabion Walls).

If you’re handy with wire cutters and galvanized steel, this might be the project for you. You would need to build the walls a bit wider then what your average garden bed would be constructed of. Simply cut out the mesh to the size and width you prefer and join the sides and bottoms together with tie wire (normally a galvanized steel version).

As these containers don’t have a bottom, there’s absolutely no need to place any sort of compacting material such as gravel or road base down first. You won’t need to use any weed mat either. Simply place the containers on a flat surface and fill with garden soil.

On most soil types and flat ground, you can simply excavate a rectangular area the width of the cages you will be using. The internal area should be big enough for your required vegetable plot.

Place weed mat on the surface of the excavated area and then put the cages down onto the matted area. Then you simply fill with whatever stone or rock you like.

Although I have seen this type of construction used in gardens’, it is more often then not for retaining or separating walls rather then Vegetable plots. But this doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. They look good when filled with large colored stones.

4). Purchase pre-made metal or metal and wood vegetable garden containers.

These come in all sizes and are probably the easiest way to start a vegetable plot. If this is your first time starting a vegetable garden then I would just purchase one. Excavate an appropriate section of the garden, making sure that the area is flat. Use a level for this.

As these containers don’t have a bottom, there’s absolutely no need to place any sort of compacting material such as gravel or road base down first. You won’t need to use any weed mat either. Simply place the containers on a flat surface and fill with garden soil.

Filling with soil:

After the garden has been prepared the next step is to fill it with soil in readiness for its use. A mixture of both soils, compost and fertilizers is necessary to guarantee your seedlings and seeds will have the nutrients necessary for them to develop into strong healthy, edible plants.

Look for a landscaping or garden center that is known to provide good quality garden soil mixes in bulk quantities. Most will come prepacked with all the nutrients and soil structure you will require, including organic slow release fertilizers.

It is possible to purchase the soil mixture you will need in bags, however, depending on the size and depth of your raised bed, this could become very expensive. Personally, I prefer to purchase it in bulk loads and save money.

In order to purchase the correct quantity you need to know the depth, width and height of your bed or beds. If you have issues working out volumes then simply take these figures with you to the garden nursery and they will work it out for you. Or you work it out for yourself. Let’s say the garden is rectangular an 8 ft long by 3 ft wide by 2ft high. This would be (8×3)x2 = 48 cubic ft. divide by 27 (27 cubic ft in a cubic yard) = Approximately 1.8 Cubic yards.

Watering in the soil:

When your containers are ready, and filled with a good quality soil mix, you will need give them a good soak. Make sure the water penetrates throughout the garden bed. Leave the beds for about a week allowing the soil to settle. After a week check to see if you need to top them up with more of the mixture. Once you have completed this your raised garden beds will be ready for use.

Common tools needed for working on raised beds.

Anyone that has read some of my other gardening blogs will know that I often emphasize the need for good quality garden tools. I also tell people that they should purchase long handled tools when it comes to hoes, rakes and shovels in particular. However, with raised garden beds it’s no longer beneficial to use long handled styles, it is far better to purchase the shorter handled varieties.

Below is some tools you will need to maintain a raised garden bed.

a. Garden spade.this tool is necessary to turn and aerate the soil to mix the compost and other nutrients. As They usually come with medium handle length I suggest you stick to this style.

b. Garden fork. This is perfect for breaking up the soil to allow the plant to properly absorb oxygen and other
nutrients. AgainHori Hori Knife they normally come with a medium handle length which is adequate for raised garden beds.

c. Short-handled hoe. This ideal weeding tool is used for weeding and digging furrows for the seeds.

d. Hori-hori knife. It is a multipurpose tool. Ideal for weeding, digging out root vegetables and cutting.

There are many other tools are also ideal for the gardener to use in their raised garden beds. These include pruners, watering cans, gardening gloves, gardening apron and many more.

The information given here is constructed to be for guidance only, especially for the beginner gardener wanting to kick-start their raised bed gardening hobby.

In Conclusion:

There are many variations of raised garden beds available. The types you could use in your own garden are only limited by your imagination. Make sure you place which ever bed you choose is placed in the correct position in your garden, use good quality soil and then begin filling it with vegetables.

If you’re a beginner gardener, stick to growing those vegetables that are well-known and easy to grow. If you have children, include them in the whole process, they’ll love being part of the gardens’ development.

In future articles I will go into more depth of how to build raised garden beds such as the timber framed styles.

If you enjoyed this article please leave some comments in the box provided below.

==>For more information on the tools needed to maintain a raised garden bed please click here <==

Happy Gardening. Jim

Jim Kulk

18 Comments

  1. My wife has been bugging me for about a year to build one of these. I’m glad you covered the optional stonework. I wasn’t sure if that was a prerequisite or not. And it seems like if I was a mason great. But otherwise, I could build a raised one just as long as I have some drainage. Thanks for the tips, now I’m getting a little more excited about building it.

  2. Don’t know if I’d ever pay $20.00 for a hand trowel. I can pick up all those tools for half the money at Walmart. How did you come up with the ranking 8/10 for a trowel

    • Hi Dave. Yes it’s true you can buy some similar tools at Walmart for less then $20. But I’ll only review the better tools that have the quality to endure years of constant use. I could have reviewed cheaper units at Walmart or Amazon but, being a professional in the gardening industry, I prefer to use the best tools. Jim

  3. Very informative. I’m going to take this on board and make some inquiries from local suppliers. I’m a keen gardener and I noticed as I get older, I cant bend for too long a period so these raised beds would be a dream come true

    • Thanks Stephen. I’m sure you’ll enjoy gardening when you have completed your raised beds, you’ll experience far less strain on your back. Jim

  4. A neighbor of ours did their tomatoes that way this year. I told my husband I’d like to do that down in Florida. We just bought a home there and they have several planting seasons, I’d love to learn to have bed gardens.
    I’ve got your site bookmarked and thank you,
    Laura

  5. It’s funny, but this summer I did notice that it was uncomfortable sometimes to be bending over to plant, weed and pick my vegetables. I have seen the raised gardens here and there over the years, but I never gave much thought to them. Now, reading your article, I’m all in for raised beds next year.

    Thanks for this post! I really appreciate you!

    Babs

  6. Awesome article man! I have a garden too and I always wanted this beds but I did not know how to make them. I think that it can make my garden to look more beauty and decorative. I think that I will not make a mistake while building it, you have explained everything so well.

  7. Over st my house my dad has a few raised flower beds but they are for slowest only. He has a specific area  in the yard for the veggie garden. To be honest this was a really informative article about raised garden beds. I actually like them better to we do have one circular raised bed for tomato’s and my dad put a bucket full of compose near it so he could mix it all together.

    I see a lot of benefits to raised bed especially for the ones that have back problems, knee problem this could help them out a lot. I feel gardening is a beautiful way of doing things. It is really calming and min isn’t thinking about nothing but you and the garden. 

    The tip about treated wood boxes and putting in a lining of black plastic pretty good tip if some didn’t know they could do that.

    Thanks for the post I really enjoyed reading it.

    Matt

    • Thank you Matt. I’m glad you enjoyed my article. Raised garden beds can definitely be a benefit to you back and knees. Jim

  8. Hi and thanks for the interesting post on your site. I think some of these ideas are really great and it is so positive to try and encourage young people and kids to get involved in gardening as a hobbie. It can also be used to build better relationships with family too. Thanks again, Kenny

    • Thanks Kenny. So much can be done to make gardening interesting for children . They love to become involved from a very young age. Jim

  9. I am so happy I have found this website. There is a lot of valuable information here. Especially as I want to construct some garden beds for next spring. Thank you for sharing

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