We’ve all admired them. Huge, lush, green gardens overflowing with fresh vegetables and beautiful flowers. Gardens covering acres of fertile soil in the countryside. Arbors and entryways to die for!
But what if you don’t have the room for a large garden – or you just prefer a smaller garden? And what if you love fresh, organic vegetables? Container gardening and raised bed gardens are much easier than larger ones. They take less space and require less maintenance. So now you can have your own garden in a small space and eat your vegetables too!
Raised beds are a very good option since they provide a space for deep, rich soil with good soil drainage. They be used in backyards, on the patio, or other convenient locations. The roots of plants can grow and expand easily in loose soil and pulling weeds is a cinch! Raised beds are also a great option for growing fresh herbs.
So how do you get started?
- Raised beds can be purchased at local hardware and gardening stores. You can also make your own bed from wood, bricks, concrete blocks, or stones. A bed 4-feet wide is ideal since most people can reach about 2 feet across. You can work the garden from all sides without having to step in the bed. It also makes it easier to harvest produce. Make the garden as short or long as space permits.
- Once you have a raised bed, it’s time to fill it with rich, fertile soil. Using organic matter is a great way to start. Fill the bottom of your bed with mulched leaves and other organic matter. Include some rocks or other materials to aid in drainage over time. Add some topsoil and compost and have it gradually slope off to the sides to allow for drainage (rounding the top downward).
- Cover the top lightly with finely chopped mulch to help retain water and avoid weeds.
- Stagger plants rather than planting in exact rows – this allows you to fit more plants in and gives them room to spread.
- Plant seeds or seedlings and watch your garden grow! It’s really that simple. Plant the seeds or transplants equal distances apart and leave enough room for them to spread and grow. Alternate plants with deeper roots and more shallow roots to allow room to expand below the surface.
- Arrange plantings so that shorter plants are not blocked from sunlight by taller plants. Prepare the raised bed facing the sun and put smaller plants in the front and work back.
- Water often enough to keep the soil damp. Raised beds dry out quicker since they are ‘raised’. More frequent watering is important but it’s simple since you’re watering in a smaller, confined space. Drip irrigation is a good option for raised beds too.
- Use trellises or stakes for tomatoes, peas, cucumbers, and similar vegetables to give them room to grow ‘up’.
- Thin out plants if they become crowded. This will help plants produce more.
You can use raised beds in small yards, on terraces, patios, and other small places. If space permits, use several raised beds and simply leave enough walking room between them to tend your gardens.
Try it and you’ll be amazed at how much your garden produces. And after all, what’s better than fresh, organic vegetables picked right outside the back door!