Raised bed gardening : some tips (Google Alert / Howdididoit)

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Raised bed gardening

Raised bed gardening is enjoying a new popularity with space and time being more limited. A raised bed garden is built so the soil level in the garden is higher than the surrounding ground. This is usually achieved by using landscape timbers or a similar material. Very common in colonial times they can be made to enhance any landscaping that you have done and made to fit your needs. The most common size is about four feet wide and whatever length is convenient for you to manage and fit in with your decor. One of the reasons for a raised bed aside from conserving space is that you usually get a much higher yield per square foot because you can maximize the space by planting rows closer together as you don’t need to have enough space to walk between the rows to plant or harvest. At 4 feet wide everything is easily accessible from either side. Another reason for high yield is that in a small area it is much easier to control the soil quality.

It is also much easier to control common garden pests. If burrowing rodents are a problem in your area, simply lay down a layer of hardware cloth or poultry wire before you begin to build the bed.

Water conservation is also a consideration. With the narrow width, many watering systems will be quite effective. Among the best is a nylon soaker hose. It uses very little water and will keep the soil uniformly moist.

In the construction of a raised bed there are a few tips that may help you. You should never use creosote or or treated lumber for the bedframe. Use pressure treated lumber, redwood, cement blocks or brick and cement blocks will raise the soil PH balance over a period of time.

Another possibility to consider is that you can plant your seeds much earlier because a raised bed heats up much quicker than the surrounding ground and if you have a sturdy frame you can easily convert it into a mini greenhouse by the simple steps of adding a few support posts along the sides of the frame and covering it with a clear plastic cover.

Over all, while some still prefer the conventional garden, for those with not as much space or time a raised bed garden can be tailored to your individual needs and still provide you with fresh home grown vegetables all summer and you can use you imagination to design it to fit in with your landscape.

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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