Raised Bed Gardening What do you mean by raised beds? A raised bed is a framed planting area which the soil exists above the surrounding ground level. The bed size is anything that enables you to work on without stepping directly onto the bed of soil itself. Why have raised bed gardens?There are many reasons For example: raised bed gardening gives you much better soil conditions. Pests are far easier to control. If the raised bed is at least 2 feet or 60cm high then you will have a better back with far less bending to dig or harvest crops. And finally you will conserve water as more water reaches the plant roots meaning you use less. Every time you walk up and down a non raised bed garden you gradually compress the soil.
Eventually the earth becomes hard and compacted creating various problems for plant roots, drainage problems and of course future digging difficulties. How do I make a raised bed garden?You can make frames out of old railway sleepers for that chunky look or old floorboard planks. However it is better to use pressure treated timber. As this will last longer and there will be less danger of damage to the crops from using preserving treatments like creosote. Mark out where you would like to place these raised beds by using flour, sand or even lay out a hosepipe. Then knock in some short stakes of 12 inches or 30cms at each corner. Tie string between the stakes to work out your levels.
Then fix the frame to the stakes. Remove any vegetation by digging it out or by using sheets of old cardboard. The cardboard can be left in place for a few months and then removed or if it is thin enough it can be left there as it will eventually rot away. The frame can now be filled with soil up to the level edge of the frame.Try not to make the bed more than 4ft or just over a meter in width. Or if you do then you must have a plank of wood to stand on that is long enough to rest on the edges of the frame. You can have the length any with the only limitation being the length of the garden or plot. For low growing crops it is best to have the beds in a north south orientation as this way the plants will get maximum light exposure on both sides of the bed. Taller crops such as runner beans would be better in an east west configuration with ground level crops on the south side.Here is a project for you this weekend.