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I have never been one for changing things that seem traditional; this is why I was very skeptical the first time anyone suggested I start using raised beds instead of the classic row gardens that I was use to. But I must say after some research, raised beds are the better of the two choices.
What Are the Benefits?
If you live in an area where you have poor soil, raised beds are just about a must to growing what you need to be self-sufficient. To plants, the dirt is their source of nutrition; if you have poor dirt you won’t have any luck growing food. If you have raised beds to plant you vegetables, you will be able to decide what you want to fill them with, giving you control of the soil’s quality.
Where I live the soil is terrible; I have struggled with trying to stack leaves on the garden to add to the soil’s value for years. But, no matter how hard I’ve worked to make things better, I still can’t grow anything in the clay that makes up my garden.
Finally, I planted a few things in raised beds and, for once, I got wonderful produce. To the left is a picture of me holding a carrot I grew last year in my raised beds.
Weeds are not as bad in raised beds as when they grow out of the ground around your plants. They are much easier to pull out of the rich soil in your raised beds than from the hard ground. This could take a lot of work out of gardening for you so that you can put that time to use on something else.
One of the major problems with raised beds is the fact that you have to provide the soil for them instead of just using the soil that makes up your yard, but this problem can be remedied easily. If you know someone with farm animals you could talk to them about letting you get manure from their barn so that you can fill your raised beds with good soil. You can also use the soil from your compost bin in your raised bed.
My raised beds have been made out of 1’x1” boards that I have cut into an appropriate length when I buy them. I take four boards and build a frame using the boards, corner braces (I prefer to use four of the heavy duty braces that are made for porches), and an electric screw driver. When I have the boards cut I plan ahead and have them cut so that two of the boards are 5ft long or shorter, so that I can reach the middle easily and pull weeds.
Put the raised bed down on level ground so that water will not wash away the soil during the first heavy rain.
If you are thinking about using raised beds, I would suggest you read Mel Bartholomew’s “Square Foot Gardening”. He has reworked the entire concept of raised beds to ensure that gardeners get the more produce in less space. I will place a link for the book at the bottom of this page along with a few more links that might help you. But this means I have to give you a disclaimer: It’s an Amazon link so I will get a portion from all sales when you use the link to shop, but it will cost you no more to use this link than just to shop off of Amazon’s website.
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