Wednesday, February 20, 2008

8 Benefits of Gardening in Raised Beds

Why should you consider raised bed gardening for your vegetables?

It's a good question. The alternative is to put the garden in the ground which people have done for centuries with success. Why change a good thing? For the small home garden raised beds are a much better option. Below you will find several advantages for using raised beds.

Here are 8 reasons why you should consider gardening in raised beds:


1. You control the soil. You get to start off with a great soil mix from the beginning. Often the ground in our yards and gardens is less than ideal for planting vegetables. Building a raised bed lets you control that factor.

2. Added height can be important to many gardeners for several reasons. The plants are closer to you which means they are easier to plant, maintain, and most importantly harvest! Older gardeners who may not be able to bend very well and handicapped gardeners can still garden with raised beds because of the extra height.

3. You avoid soil compaction. The more you walk on the dirt the more compacted it becomes. Gardens in raised beds are not usually walked on and they do not become compacted. This allows the roots to get the oxygen and moisture they need.

4. You can plant more plants in a smaller space! Because your soil is better than the average soil you have a higher nutrient content in the soil. You can put more plants closer together and the plants will have all the nutrients they need to thrive. This results in more veggies for your dining enjoyment.

5. There are very few weeds in a raised bed garden. At least this is true initially, later the weeds may come but they are easier to remove since the soil is in such great shape!

6. Your growing season is longer because the raised beds warm up faster.

7. They have better drainage than most other soils. Better drainage could be a slight disadvantage since you will have to water more frequently during dry spells.

8. Probably the best reason for a raised bed is if you have a troublesome site where you can't dig. Many areas of Tennessee are almost solid rock so you can see where a raised bed might come in handy. If you can't dig down build up! Raised beds are your best bet for a plentiful crop of vegetables.

If you are looking for some things to think about when you're designing your raised bed garden look here!

20 comments :

  1. Great list and all good reasons for the raised bed, but you left one out, they look great as part of your design! Yours are especially attractive.

    Frances at Faire Garden

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  2. I couldn't agree more. Most of my beds are raised, and it was to control the soil quality in the beginning. Now, I enjoy sitting on the edge and gardening. Easier on my back.~~Dee

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  3. good post. have you ever heard of French intensive gardening? i learned of it many years from organic gardening. this is how i prepare my raised beds. it is pretty much just like you said.

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  4. I couldn't agree with you more on all your points! I'm big on raised planters.
    Shirley

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  5. I enjoyed reading this - my dad is a confirmed raised-bed gardener. He started when he had two hip replacements and is still going strong. I like the idea of using the raised beds as a bit of a design feature as well.

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  6. Ah, now I know! Thank you for answering my question. You have convinced me to do more work. I am starting a veggie garden for the first time at this house so now I must go to get the lumber to make raised beds! Oh, the Saint will really like you for this Posting Dave! Another trip to Lowes for lumber and more work for him…LOL...

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  7. You are so right about raised beds...and I like the easy access for those of us who have sore backs.

    Gail

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  8. Thanks for all the good comments!

    Frances,

    I hope they turn out to be attractive and thanks for the kind words. They can look very attractive.

    Dee,

    Thanks for coming by my blog. They do make gardening easier. Did you put an edging on the side for seating?

    Tina,

    I'm not sure I've heard of French intensive gardening. I looked it up and it's also known as square foot gardening which I have heard of. I hope to use those techniques in my beds this year. In particular intercropping!

    Shirley,

    Thanks for coming by the blog and commenting!

    Kate,

    Sounds like your dad loves to garden! Raised beds can definitely make things easier.

    Skeeter,

    Thank you for the idea for this post! Your question was a good one. Hopefully the Saint won't ban you from reading the garden blogs! Beside most guys like to build stuff he shouldn't complain too much! ;)

    Gail,

    I can imagine having to use them over your clay and limestone. How many beds do you use?

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  9. Dave,

    I have three, all large, no wood, all constructed from the rock I dug out of the ground while planting. One large bed directly beneath my front screened porch, one I call the extended new bed along the house and driveway and one towards the street along side the driveway. I don't grow vegies but I have lots of container herbs.....I want to want to grow vegies.

    I have some serious rock in my yard, I think it's growing here or the earth is pushing it upward!

    Gail

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  10. I agree, there are many benefits to gardening in raised beds. One I'm not sure you mentioned is that you don't need a roto-tiller to dig up the garden each spring.

    I tell everyone who wants to start a vegetable garden to start with raised beds. Then as your experience and appetite grows, you can add more raised beds each.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

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  11. Great post, Dave. You make compelling arguments for raised beds, which I'm slowly adding around here. We have clay and rocks and lots of moisture, so building UP is the way to go here, too.

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  12. Gail,

    I would love to have some natural stone around here to use for some raised beds. I think stone is the best material to use for them. My in-laws in Mt. Juliet have a lot of natural sandstone that they have used for their veggie beds. It works great. One advantage to using stone is it retains the heat from the sun at night giving you a warmer microclimate.

    Carol,

    That is another good reason, I'll edit my post to add that one in! You can replace the tiller with a shovel, a rake, and a little man-power (or woman-power as the case may be!).

    Jodi,

    Clay seems to be everywhere doesn't it! Up is the way to go!

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  13. Dave,

    Is your yard/neighborhood former pasture land? The history of the land is always interesting.

    Did you know that some of the stone yards have a pile of free rocks (they are plentiful in Nashville). I know Jones Stone in the Melrose neighborhood has a pile.

    I don't think you can have enough to build with...I walk through my neighborhood thinking about all the rocks I could collect for my unbuilt walls

    Gail

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  14. Gail,

    I suspect that at one time it was former pasture land although I don't know for a fact. So many farms in this area of TN have become communities. We are fortunate though that there is no sewer here or our lot would probably be the size of a postage stamp. The septic field lines kept them around 1 acre.

    I need to look into the stone yards and check out the free rock pile! That's a good idea!

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  15. I've just made a raised bed, so I am looking forward to see how it works out.The veggies were a wash out last year as it was so wet, hopefully won't have the same problem this year.

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  16. Mark,

    Good luck with your raised beds. I'm sure they'll do great for you! I wish we could have shared some in your wash out last year. We were drier than we have been in maybe 20 years. We were about 18" under what we should have had in July. I hope this summer will prove differently!

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  17. Dave,

    I'm a new reader of your blog. What a great post. I love raised beds and have historically built the ones that are low to the ground as you have pictured. This year, I'm trying with even taller ones, which you can see here:

    http://heirloomgardener.blogspot.com/search/label/Vegetable%20Gardening

    -Heirloom Gardener

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  18. Hey, Dave - Thanks for the great post! I've never done a raised bed, but I've read about them and am thinking about putting one in. I have a space right behind my house where the backyard slopes down to meet the house. Do you think a raised bed would do well right up against the house?

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  19. The Friend,

    I think it would be fine near your house under a couple conditions. Use a rot resistant wood like cedar or use stone. Near a house you don't want to invite termites to lunch! You may want to leave a small space between your garden and your house of a couple feet. Many bugs will use the raised height of things against the house to crawl in, like ants. Also make sure you get plenty of sun there since most garden veggies enjoy plenty of sunshine. Of course you could do what I used to do and grow everything in pots. Most vegetables will grow great in a pot. It's like a mini-raised bed. By all means go for building a raised bed. Mine are doing great right now. I'll post about the garden's progress very soon.

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  20. I use cinder blocks stacked 2 high AND protect the beds from my poultry with fencing.

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