Master Gardener: Consider Raised Beds | Home and garden

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It’s time to plant your summer vegetable garden. The older I get, the more my body – especially my back – complains after yard work. Bending over, digging with a shovel, hoeing weeds – it all takes its toll.

Raised vegetable and flower beds can be a real back and knee saver and are very easy to maintain. They even allow gardeners with reduced mobility to continue playing in the soil. Also, with raised beds, you have better control over the quality of the soil in which you will be growing your vegetables.

If you’re not comfortable with power tools, there are kits you can purchase for your raised beds. While they’ll likely cost more than building your own, they can still be affordable, especially since it’s just a one-time purchase.

If you decide to build your own raised beds, you can make them as simple or elaborate as you want. Do a quick search on the Internet and you will find a myriad of instructions and procedures. The recommended height for raised beds is 12 to 18 in. This will leave plenty of room for the roots of your vegetables. The higher your bed, the less you will bend over.

Depending on your budget, there are many methods to build your raised bed garden: cement building blocks, wood, bricks, galvanized metal tubs (consider drilling holes for drainage), wine barrels or fabric planting bags. that you can combine. together. Raised beds should be no more than 4 feet wide because you want to be able to comfortably reach the middle for planting, weeding, or harvesting. The length of your bed depends on the type of construction material and your available space.

A simple method is to purchase cement building or landscaping blocks and place them end to end in the shape that suits your space. Layer them on top of each other to achieve the desired height. It’s a good choice because they are heavy enough to hold the floor without tilting and they will last much longer than wood. Plus, their width allows for comfortable seating while tending to your plants.

If you prefer a wooden raised bed, cedar or redwood are recommended, as they are both more resistant to rot than other types of wood. The most common construction method is to screw your wooden boards into 4×4 corner posts. Six feet in length or less is recommended for wood planks, as the weight and pressure of the ground can cause the wood to bend and bow, so anything longer would require more bracing in the middle to maintain its shape. We build ours with a top edge board that allows for comfortable seating when weeding or planting.

Of course, your raised beds should be in a sunny location that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight during the day. Once your flower beds are constructed, you might consider laying a weed liner at the bottom, especially if you are placing your flower beds in an area where you have had a weed problem. If you have a problem with waffles, lay some fine mesh on the bottom before adding soil.

Raised beds keep your soil health in check. If you don’t have access to good garden soil, you can buy it in bags or in bulk. Remember that your soil is the backbone of your vegetable garden, so it is important that it is balanced and rich in nutrients. Whatever type of soil you use, you should amend it with compost and potting soil. Combining several bagged soil types will give you a nice variety of textures, and you want your soil to be loose and well-drained.

After filling the raised bed with soil of your choice, fertilize it in the form of balanced 16-16-16 fertilizer, or well-aged worm castings or manure. Adding fresh manure to your bed will burn your plants unless you work it and wait several weeks for it to decompose.

A drip irrigation system is easy to install and when used with a timer, your flower beds will be easier to maintain. You can also use soaker hoses or water by hand if you prefer.

If you want to decorate around your new beds, lay down some fine gravel, pebbles, or just a good walk on the bark. Add a few stepping stones and you’re ready to plant. For more information about the vegetable garden, visit our webpage:

If you already have raised beds, remember that the nutrients in the soil will be depleted by the growing season, so you should amend your soil every year by adding bags of soil amendment, potting soil or mulch . The more diverse your soil is, the better it is for your plants, so use different methods or mixes each year.

Raised beds can be attractive and make maintaining your garden easier. They are perfect for square foot gardens. Weeds are fewer in raised beds. No more back-breaking plowing and hoeing? Sign me up! Happy gardening!

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