Raised Bed Vegetable Gardening

Raised bed vegetable gardening is similar to growing in containers, just on a much larger scale. The main difference is a raised bed will contain the soil on four sides with the bottom open so plant roots can grow deeper into the existing ground. If you have poor, sandy, rocky, or wet soil the raised bed would be ideal.

For simple steps to planting a vegetable garden in raised beds check out my new ebook "Vegetable Garden Plans for Raised beds". I provide easy to follow diagrams and dates on when to plant your vegetables.


Benefits of raised bed vegetable gardening:

  • soil warms up faster in the spring which can give you an earlier harvest
  • soil is less compacted as you usually do not walk on the bed
  • less bending as you plant, weed and water your garden
  • can be a better use of space
  • improves drainage
  • gives your garden a clean and tidy look
  • enhances your garden by adding structure
  • can be of any height to suit your needs
  • easy to trellis

Disadvantages for raised bed vegetable gardening:

  • takes time and effort to build the beds
  • some cost involved unless you can recycle materials existing in your yard
  • beds may need more watering in hot weather
  • more difficult to till using machinery

Making your raised bed:

When making a raised vegetable bed you can use a variety of materials to build it. A raised bed can be free standing in the sense of mounding your existing soil.  This works well id you already have good soil and you just want it to warm up quicker in the spring.  Build raised beds can ve place almost anywhere in  your garden layout.

Materials  to use:

  • Wood such as fir, poplar, cedar, plywood, landscape ties, logs can all be used.  Some wood will rot quicker than others so be aware of this when deciding on the material.
  • bricks
  • cements blocks
  • stone
  • rocks

Width:

For me the maximum width of a bed is 4 feet, this allows me to reach to the center from both sides of the structure, making it easier to weed and harvest.

Length:

Beds can be any length or shape that works in your garden.  I had an oddly configured backyard so made several triangular shaped beds to fit into the area.

Height:

Raised beds are a great way for older or disabled persons to garden as they can be any height that works best for you.  You can even put a ledge around it to sit on.

If you are going to have several beds make sure you leave enough room between them to bring in your wheelbarrow or lawn mover if you are having grass between them.


Filling your raised bed:

You can purchase good topsoil but can also make your won.  You will need to fill your bed with rich light soil such as equal parts of peat moss, compost and topsoil.  One way is to remove some of the top soil in your pathways to add to your new beds.

  1. Break up or lightly till the area where you will place the bed.  This will allow easier access for vegetable roots to grow deeper into the earth.
  2. add your new soil mix
  3. soak the bed with water to help settle the soil
  4. the soil should be 2-3 inches below the top of the bed.

Now what?

Start seeding your vegetables.  Just one note: you will need to replenish the soil every year.  Amending your soil by adding compost or aged manure is on of the bed ways to do this. 

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