Jan 202012
 
Raised beds


By Avis Licht

Raised beds have many advantages.  They  provide better drainage,  better access, better plant growth and reduced soil compaction.  There are many ways to build a raised bed.  Let’s  see what would be best for your garden.

Raised beds

Double dug beds are raised and need no edging

The Simplest Raised Beds

These don’t need any built up edge, they only need to be double dug.

This act of digging and moving the soil aerates it and raises it up. Here’s a more detailed explanation.  This is especially effective when opening up the soil for the first time.    By creating “beds” instead of rows, you leave paths for walking and you never step on the bed.  This prevents compaction and allows water and air to penetrate the soil, making for healthier roots. It also lets you plant in a more intensive manner.

Double digging is hard work, but doesn’t need to be done every season. In another post I’ll show you the many reasons for using this method, and different ways you can incorporate  fertility.

Stone for raised beds

Raised beds using stone for both low and tall walls

Stone Raised Beds

Stone lasts forever, and looks beautiful.  It is also easy to create  curving lines in the garden.

As you can see in the photo above, you can use stone to edge your beds, it defines the line and creates a clear path.You can use it to build a wall, which is especially effective on a slope. In this garden, the curved bed was built to 2 ft high, which helps the owner who has back issues.  We  used the opportunity of the height of the bed to bring in some good organic topsoil.

If you bring in soil, be sure to loosen up the bottom of the bed.  It doesn’t help to bring in good topsoil if you don’t have good drainage.

Cost is a factor in deciding whether or not to use stone.  It can be expensive if you have to buy it, and  it takes time to install it.

buildiing curves with stone is easy

This curved bed looks good even when the garden is dormant

Wood Raised Beds

Wood is commonly used for building raised beds in the vegetable garden. Use recycled wood if possible.  Buying redwood or cedar has many implications to the environment.  If you are only raising the beds a few inches, I don’t think wood is worth the effort or the cost.

If you do use wood, be sure not to use pressure treated wood. This includes old railroad ties. The chemicals in this wood are hazardous to your health and the environment.  This article covers the pros and cons of using wood.

Bamboo raised bed

Bamboo or willow can make a great raised bed, especially if you are growing it yourself

You can even find recycled plastic for raised beds. Kits with all the materials you need can make the project simple.  Gardener’s Supply carries all kinds of raised bed kits.

 

Raised beds with stone from the site

The raised bed just planted

 

 

 

When deciding whether to use raised beds in your edible landscape consider your site, soil, resources and aesthetics.

 

 

 

Vegetable garden

The raised bed a year later-- vegetables and flowers

  6 Responses to “Raised Beds in Your Edible Garden”

  1. […] warm weather areas it’s definitely time to start the garden work – from sowing seeds, getting beds ready, fertilizing your flowers and generally getting involved in the excitement of coming out of […]

  2. […] grow. You can loosen your soil by digging, rototilling or bringing in topsoil and adding it to a raised bed. 2. Check your soil for drainage. If you see standing water on the surface, or if you dig a hole and […]

  3. yes, that was helpful. Can you please one day do some writing on small fruit plants (for small garden). Thank You.

  4. This has been very informative as I am trying to think how to create raised bed or use them or just use some small fence so that my dogs do not get over the raised bed. A question: you told that creating a stone raised bed might take time. Now, while creating a raised bed using stones, I just have to make sure that they are properly stacked, right? I don’t have to use cement or anything in between the stones to hold them together? Thanks.

    • It depends on your dog. Some dogs just need to be redirected around the beds and a 12 inch wall will do the trick. But some dogs jump over the walls. I put a simple bamboo fence around my strawberry beds and the dog stayed away.I have post on dogs and cats in the garden. If the wall is 2 ft or more high you would need to use mortar unless they are very square stones. Hope that helps.

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