Gardening is a great way to spend time outdoors. You can build a relationship with the earth and free your mind. You can learn patience as well as doing some physical exercises. Besides, there is something special about eating food that you have just harvested. The beauty of it is that you can do it in your backyard. So if you think space can stop this life-changing activity, then it is time to think again. In this article, we will explore raised bed gardening tips for beginners. This means that you will have an idea about the steps and tools you need for a better and more successful experience.
In-ground gardening is hard to control; the existing soil’s quality can be poor, which can be frustrating for you as a beginner. Also, it is not always comfortable to work if you have back problems. Most importantly, you walk over the soil to tend it; as a result, its structure might collapse. Although conventional gardening is excellent, raised beds gardening gives you more control and aesthetic pleasure. So what are “raised beds”? And why should you consider them to begin with?
The raised bed is a containment unit about 3 to 4 foot wide that has soil in it so you can grow veggies or flowers. It is placed above an existing soil. This type of gardening is different and more efficient than the traditional one. It improves drainage and gives you full control over weed and pests, and you can save more space as well as increasing the yield.
Let’s take a closer look at these advantages and compare between the two gardening methods. Then we will dive into some tips to start your own raised bed garden and feel the connection with mother nature.
- Traditional VS Raised Bed Gardening
- Prevention Of Plant Damage
- Better Drainage
- Less Weed, Healthy Soil
- More Yields More Fulfillment
- Work With Ease
- Potential Disadvantages
- Select The Site Wisely
- Raised Bed Layout
- Materials To Use For Raised Bed Gardens
- The Perfect Soil To Use
- Should You Line Your Raised Bed?
- Growing Vegetables In Your Garden
Traditional VS Raised Bed Gardening
Soil is an essential component of your garden, and its quality differs from a yard to another. There are three types of soil: sand, silt, and clay. For your plant’s optimum growth, you need a mixture of all three types mentioned: a rich sandy loam. In traditional gardening, you will need to modify the soil to match the type of plants you want to grow, which will require work depending on the quality and density of soil. And after all the work, if the soil is still unhealthy, the results will be disappointing.
On the other hand, raised beds gardens have many advantages over conventional gardening in terms of limited space usage, more control over the soil you can use. Thus, you can choose the soil according to the plants and not the other way around.
Here are some of the key points to keep in mind about raised beds:
Prevention Of Plant Damage
It is a critical thing to mention when it comes to this style of gardening. Raised bed protects the structure of the soil; it is usually 6 to 12 inches high, and it will never get stepped on as long as people work on the paths and can reach the middle of the bed. As a result, the soil is not compacted; therefore, the water infiltration and drainage are not affected.
So the beds can be filled with a combination of regular soil, compost, and other organic material that can be easily adjusted, plus nothing will be wasted in the paths, and all the good nutrients will serve the plant for proper growth.
Loam is the soil that contains clay, silt, and sand. Providing good quality loam for raised beds can make the difference; less organic material is required, and yield is increased.
Drainage ensures adequate air for the roots and reduces soil and nutrients loss. Raised beds can prevent plants from getting waterlogged, so in areas where the soil drains poorly, this could be the right solution. At the same time, it needs monitoring if the soil dries out quickly by adding enough water.
Less Weed, Healthy Soil
A weed is typically defined as unwanted plants that compete with your plants for nutrients, water, and sunlight. It can also hide pests and harbors diseases that can damage your garden. There is no compressed soil in raised beds because you never walk over it. So, water circulation through the soil is smooth, and healthy plant growth is promoted, which reduces weeds in your garden.
Furthermore, the walls of raised beds can stop some harmful plants and blowing seeds. Weed cloth layers can inhibit the growth of aggressive weeds.
Mulched and carefully planted veggies and plants can usually decrease weed. When cover crops planting is added to your list of garden care, not only will weed disappear, but soil fertility and quality will also improve.
Raised beds are small; therefore, they are easy to control and manage when it comes to pests, rodents, and births. You can use a row cover and garden bed netting for the matter.
If you go through these crucial procedures, weeds will never be a problem.
More Yields More Fulfillment
The soil in a raised bed is not compacted, and the air and water circulation are improved. So the roots can quickly grow in these conditions, and they can search for more nutrients for faster growth. In other words, you can plant earlier as the soil warms up quicker. It is not the case for in-ground soil; you step on it to tend it, and the soil gets compressed, leading to nutrient loss, plus it does not warm quickly in spring.
What’s more, you can use the small space and plant densely, which you can not do in conventional gardening due to paths in the same amount of space. The result will be more yields compared to the same area’s dimension in the ground-level garden.
Work With Ease
Gardening demands discipline, energy, and enthusiasm even though the work might be hard sometimes. One of the problems that make most people lazy and eventually skip the major phases is the physical flexibility that it requires.
Luckily, raised beds are custom-build, no more kneeling or bending in a way that can hurt your back or even cause discomfort. The height and width of beds are something you can choose and therefore work with ease. Thus, you protect your joints and have fun while connecting with nature.
There are arguably some potential disadvantages of this gardening style that can be fixed with proper planning and good care of your garden. For instance, soil dries out more quickly in summer and cools down faster in fall. It depends in this case on the quality and amount of work you can put in order to take care of your garden, and the choices you made to build the raised bed.
There is another issue that many people are worried about; water consumption is higher compared to ground level gardening. The soil is warmer, so evaporation occurs, plus planting densely in raised beds increases water consumption.
Here are some other disadvantages:
- They cost money to build (but permanent)
- Drip irrigation is a bit complicated to install
- Soil gets warmer in summer, which is not good for the roots.
In general, the majority of problems that people face when it comes to raised beds gardening is due to lack of knowledge. You can easily prevent most of these issues by carefully planning and searching for new techniques to make soil and the whole process more enjoyable and fruitful.
We have said at the beginning as the title suggests that we will see some raised beds garden tips, we have seen so far the difference between the two gardening types. We also covered some advantages and disadvantages of the latter style of gardening. Now it is time to get you warmed up for your adventure.
You might be overwhelmed by the quantity of work you need to do to absorb the healing power of nature through gardening. Once you start, you will find joy in doing every stage of the process as long as you keep your goal in mind.
First, plan everything and choose what you like in terms of plant and design, then start slow and learn from your mistakes. The result is worth it, so let’s get started.
Select The Site Wisely
It is crucial to take into consideration the water, drainage, wind, and sun when you try to pick a location for your raised bed. Every plant has a sun requirement to thrive. For example, veggies need six to eight hours of direct sun a day. Some plants require only two to four hours of direct sun.
Another factor that affects your garden is the ground soil; if it is waterlogged, the drainage of the soil in the raised bed will be reduced.
Make sure the water source for irrigation is near the site where you plan to build the raised bed, which brings us to the next step of the planning phase.
Whether you choose to hand water your raised beds or use a system, it is essential to plan ahead and figure out how to do it depending on the region’s weather, and plants’ needs.
It would help if you had an efficient way of irrigation.
Sprinklers waste water, and they don’t usually work well unless the system is on soil level. But it is not very practical; sprinklers wet plant leaves, which makes them easily affected by diseases and fungi.
Many gardeners recommend using a soaker hose or drip irrigation to tackle the problems mentioned above. They are more efficient watering tools for raised beds. Be careful, though; these techniques should be installed before planting because they can damage young plants. Plus, you have to use soaker hoses correctly to prevent some inconveniences.
Raised Bed Layout
The height and depth of beds are optional; they don’t have to be very high to prevent soil from compaction. 6 inches of soil in depth should be the minimum, and of course, this measurement depends on plants that you want to grow.
The height of raised beds varies. It can start from 6 up to 12 inches. However, it depends on many factors, but the quality of the underlying soil is the major one. The width should not exceed 4 feet because you need to reach the middle without stepping inside the beds and compacting the soil.
If you have multiple beds, it is better to leave some space in between for a small wheelbarrow because you might need it for some maintenance.
Materials To Use For Raised Bed Gardens
The materials you use in building your raised beds can determine the future of your garden to a certain extent. There are some materials that you should not consider. For instance, railroad ties can be treated in a manner that will affect your soil. Look for creosote use; for example, it is a brown oil used as a wood preservative. It contains harmful chemicals.
Treated lumber is another common material used to build raised beds. It is a good protector against moisture, but this pressure-treated lumber can release harmful chemicals into the surrounding soil. The durability means nothing if there is a potential threat at a certain point, so you better build your beds with more durable and less harmful materials.
The best and cheapest material you can use for raised beds is cedar or redwood. Cedar offers a natural resistance to rot and bugs, it comes in many qualities and types, but it is the best product you can get. Plus, it will last longer, depending on the weather condition and the type.
The second option, which is highly recommended is redwood. The durability depends on the density and other factors. Redwood is naturally resistant to water, rot, and termites. Typically, cedar or redwood can last between ten to fifteen years.
The Perfect Soil To Use
Now that you have picked the perfect spot and chose the material to build your garden, you can add amendment and spread the soil across the bed evenly, water the soil using a spray, and add more of it afterward to allow it to settle. The perfect soil to put in there is a loam soil with roughly the three types: Clay, silt, sand, and some humus.
Loam soil is perfect for many reasons. It contains a high PH level, which is a major for plant growth. It also helps the organism and balances the whole process. The texture of this type of soil allows it to drain effectively, and make the air circulation smooth. Besides, it keeps water and good nutrients, the plants, as a result, benefit from these circumstances to grow faster and healthier.
Another particularity that makes this soil desirable is a high calcium level. Healthy growth is all about maintaining the balance of chemicals in the soil, which is what calcium does. It reduces the amount of salt, allows more oxygen to reach the roots, and enhances soil ability to keep water and absorb more nutrients.
Should You Line Your Raised Bed?
We have seen in this guide that the wood you use to build beds is an important thing. We also recommended cedar and redwood to be the perfect pick. However, if you already made your raised bed using railroad ties, for example, and you did not fill it with soil to plant yet, you should line it. And here is why:
First of all, our main concern here is harmful chemicals released from railroad ties, liners, in this case, prevent these chemicals from leaching into the soil. They also help to stop weeding to damage the soil.
If your beds have no bottom, liners would be beneficial to prevent pests and protect the soil from temperature shifts. Another point to mention is drainage; watering can wash away soil and potentially lose organic materials. This is where liners come into play and keep soil’s good nutrients while allowing water to drain,
Please note that if you use a liner can cause wood to rot faster. So when you use a low-quality wood, the chance that it will rot is higher when you line the raised bed.
There are many types of liners that you can choose from; the basic options are fabric, plastic, and metal liner. The landscape fabric is the most common one; it is used from plastic or sometimes recycled materials and can prevent and control the weed. Plus, it allows the soil to drain.
Canvas is also a popular type of liner made from cotton or linen. It is well known for its durability, and it is water-permeable.
Growing Vegetables In Your Garden
Eating fresh vegetables right from your garden is quite something, especially if you grow them yourself. If you have never experienced this incredible feeling before, you can start your own adventure and taste the difference in terms of flavor and texture with our raised bed garden tips for beginners.
In this gardening for beginners’ guide, you have learned how to choose a site for beds, and you have an idea about the layout. Now it is time for your veggies.
Even though the soil in beds is more customized and you can grow anything on them, some vegetables are easy to grow, and others need special care and treatment. The section is designed to help you choose the right veggies to grow in your raised beds and enjoy a healthy lifestyle.
Kale, spinach, and lettuce will be your best friends because they are the easiest to plant and thrive in a raised bed. Fast-draining soil creates a suitable environment for these greens to grow.
Raised beds contain soil that matches the need for roots to grow without any difficulty. Veggies like radishes, carrot, and beets need space to spread out, and that’s what beds soil provides.
Extra compost is needed for a tomato to thrive, but this is not a problem when it comes to raised beds as it can be customized with dense nutrients to meet Tomato’s needs.
This is another vegetable that requires extra compost. Some people consider it the perfect veggie to grow in raised beds because quick-draining soil can serve them well, and they need a long growing season.
Growing potatoes in a raised bed is ideal because it is easy and does not require a lot of work. Hilling potatoes around the plants is beneficial for this veggie’s growth. The nature of the soil in beds also helps potatoes to grow as they need to spread through the soil.