Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bill & Judy’s Garden: Raising the Beds

B & J's finished raised beds
Just the Basics Folks

There are gardens of all kinds, some folks bring in top soil and mix it with the existing soil. Some gardeners opt to create a garden in containers. Other green thumbers take the time to build raised beds and that’s exactly what Bill & Judy did. Starting from scratch gave them a wealth of choices, but they decided upon raised beds that were tall enough to decrease the time spent in back aching positions. How did they do it? Read on for the basics of building raised beds.

Why Raise Beds?
The obvious answer to this question is that there’s less bending over when it comes to planting, weeding, and harvesting. Bill made his beds high enough that he can sit on a garden buddy ( I don’t know the actual name so I made one up), a wheeled bench with a compartment under the seat for storing garden tools, and do garden chores. According to Bill, the only thing missing on the rolling gardening seat is a holder for beer and maybe larger wheels for smoother rolling down the path.

Beyond the creature comforts for gardeners, raised beds offer solid benefits to plants. Drainage is not a problem with raised beds. Rain and watering, when needed, leeches through the soil, without becoming super saturated causing plants to stand around with their feet in water, something that most plants do not like.

Heavy garden equipment and even footsteps compact the ground in a garden. Raised beds keep the soil aerated and friable providing necessary air around the roots of plants.

Square-inch gardening or getting the most for the allotted space is much easier to achieve in raised beds where soil, fertilizer, and mulching can be controlled.

It’s possible to double the output of your raised garden.

Raised gardens look great in the yard. A well-planned and executed raised bed garden adds structural appeal and organization.

Believe it or not, plants grown in a raised bed poke out of the garden quicker or earlier and last longer into fall. Plants surrounded by wood, stone, or whatever the chosen medium receive just enough warmth to extend the growing season.

Materials for Raised Beds
What you use to frame your raised beds is a matter of taste. Before you decide, take a look at your yard and the style of your home. Creating a seamless look that embodies your personal style will keep you happy for years to come.

Almost anything can be used to form the beds: cement blocks, brick, stone, old railroad ties and of course, wood. Stay away from chemically treated wood, especially in a vegetable or herb garden where the intended use of plants is for eating. Creosote drenched railroad ties are better left out of your yard.

The Design
Again, the design of the beds is up to you. Most beds are laid out in geometric shapes of squares, rectangles, and L-shapes. You decide the size of your bed by making it appropriate to your yard. Keep in mind that you’ll want to be able to reach to at least the middle of the bed to pluck that plump red tomato. The length and depth is up to you. Take into consideration that most plants need a root zone of 6 to 12 inches.

Now that you know the basic basics, we’ll be checking in on the progress of Bill & Judy and their garden.

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