Have you ever been envious of those who grow their fruits and veggies in their backyards and always make the whole practice look so effortless? Well, you’ll be grateful to know that it can be effortless for you too – while also look visually appealing and save tons of space with this gardening method that involves raised plant beds.
If you’ve grown vegetables in your garden before, then this should be right up your alley. But if you’re a beginner who has little to no experience of growing their fruits and vegetables, there is no need to worry.
There are numerous advantages to raised bed farming – and the biggest one is that it is straightforward even for beginners, so you can now start your little fruit and vegetable farm even with limited resources. Let’s dive into a guide on raised plant bed farming and explore the possibilities of everything that you can do with it!
What Is Raised Bed Gardening?
As the name suggests, starting a raised vegetable garden from scratch has largely to do with the fact that the beds of the soil are slightly raised from the ground. This gardening method has been repopularized recently, but it is quite an old method of gardening that has been around for centuries.
There are multiple advantages to raised bed gardening that we will explore later, but it is first essential to understand what exactly raised bed gardening entails. There is a process of selection that you have to go through to get the materials just right, but once you have found equipment perfectly suited for raised bed gardening, then you can reap the benefits of your sowing.
Not only do raised bed gardens to look extremely appealing to the eye but they can also be used to sow your fruits and vegetables – which is an exciting prospect to any gardener.
Why Raised Bed Gardening?
There are a variety of reasons why you may want to opt for raised bed gardening. These are overall easier to look after, so the soil’s maintenance process and the plant become easier for you.
1. Easier Than Conventional Gardening
Those who are still new to the world of gardening and all the challenges it might present may find it easier to start with raised bed gardening since it is primarily considered to be way simpler than the traditional forms of gardening.
Digging and tilling your soil frequently may be a daunting challenge if you’re taking up conventional gardening – but with raised bed gardening, these problems will cease to exist as the upkeep and maintenance of the soil is extremely easy. Soil control becomes extremely easy as well, and you can mostly avoid weed growth at all in raised bed gardening for beginners.
2. Convenient Access
While this part may not seem like a big deal to those who do not garden frequently, aching joints and knees are a big part of gardening that frequent gardeners may be afflicted. Raised bed gardening eliminates the problem of you have to stoop all the way to reach your plants – a godsend for those who already have back problems or have any difficulties with stooping.
This is also a practical solution for people with locomotive disabilities since raised bed gardens can be accessed easily with the help of wheelchairs as well, and you get to choose the height of the soil beds.
3. Improved Soil
Traditional gardening may often have you or other people stepping over the soil and thus being compacted. This can be a big problem with traditional gardening, and since the soil is being constantly interfered with, it can cause the roots to grow much slower than if they were untrodden in the first place.
This ceases to be a problem with raised bed gardening because of the raised beds. These beds ensure that no one treads over the soil. It is also possible to pick out the best quality of soil and combination of fertilizers and ensure that none of it goes to waste – as might often be the case with row gardening.
4. Easier To Keep Check On Weed Growth
It is exponentially easier to reduce or even completely stop the advent of weeds and other pests in your raised bed garden soil. Since the walls of the raised beds are usually higher, they can create a barrier between seeds that are blown by the wind and your plants.
You can also make use of a weed cloth which can act as a barrier for the roots. And since raised bed gardening ensures that all plants are planted together in close vicinity, it does not leave any space for weeds to take root and settle.
5. Better Drainage
Have you had problems with the draining of your plants previously with traditional gardening methods? Owing to the nature of the raised plant beds, this will no longer be a problem for you.
The best part, as we already mentioned before, is that you can create your own blends of soil – so you are now in control of the drainage in your soil, and you can also ensure that no water is stagnating at any point in the soil in your plant. Here, you can create clay blends and sandy blends as well with superior drainage.
6. Consequent Higher Yield
Raised bed vegetable gardening for beginners basically expedites the life cycle of your plants – making it possible for them to be planted sooner when the weather is warmer. It also makes it possible for the air and the water to flow more freely throughout the soil, which means that you can plant raised bed gardens more densely than traditional gardens.
Since the latter also means that you have to designate a large part of the space for pathways, raised bed gardens pose no such issues with space to conserve space while planting more.
How To Start A Raised Bed Vegetable Garden?
Now that you know the advantages of having a raised bed garden, you might want to try it out for yourself. There are a few steps you have to follow to carry out your raised bed vegetable garden successfully, but once you do these, you can enjoy the organic fruits and vegetables you’ve always wanted.
1. Site Selection
Of course, the location of the site where you’re going to be primarily situating your raised bed gardens is extremely important – and is the first thing you should consider when you’re contemplating starting a raised bed vegetable garden yourself. You need to select a site that gets plenty of sunlight throughout the day – as you might consider with traditional gardening as well.
You will, however, have to keep in mind the climate of the geographical space you’re situated in. If you enjoy a relatively warmer climate throughout the year and especially during the summer months, then you will need to look for a site that has plenty of shade that can protect your plants.
With cooler climates, the ideal weather would be sunny for at least six hours during the day. The site selection can primarily influence the growth of your plants a lot, so it is essential to choose the site carefully, keeping in mind the climatic considerations.
2. Prepare The Site
This step involves making sure of all the preliminary logistical requirements you need to take care of before you’re introducing raised bed gardens to your soil. You will need to remove all the weeds from the area – you can achieve this by either hand pulling the weeds out or performing the process of soil solarisation that can also remove your weeds with ease.
You can lay down the plastic sheet or lay down the weed cloth if you’re going to be using one. If not, then you will have to make the soil looser manually. Another important consideration that you will need to keep in mind is drainage and irrigation – and how exactly you’re going to build in your hose system to the raised bed. You will need to make some mental measurements as to how deep the hose will fit in and where it will be curving out.
3. Build Your Raised Bed
At this point, you will need to consider what material you’re having your raised bed planters be. If they’re going to be the concrete kind, you will have to lay your concrete foundations in a trench dug into the soil. Once it has been cured, you will need to situate a rebar to make the structure even sounder.
Alternatively, if you’re not used concrete planters, you will need to dig a deep trench that allows timber, soil, and stones. And if you’re using wooden planters, you will need to dig deep holes containing the wooden posts.
This is also the step wherein you take your necessary precautions against weeds, such as a weed cloth or landscape fiber that seals the ground under the planters away.
B. Building the Planter
As mentioned before, there are many materials your raised bed planter can be built out of. Concrete, lumber, bricks, milk crates – it all depends on what materials you have readily on hand. You can also buy some pre-made lumber planters, so you don’t have to do the job of building them and measuring them.
You will need to use mortar to seal bricks and concrete planters properly – and if you’re making your planters out of timber and wooden boards, you also need to take necessary precautions to ensure that water does not seep out. A good starting set of measurements is 4×4 feet or 4×8 feet for your raised bed planters.
If you’re looking for an even more convenient and affordable option, then there are many readymade raised bed planters available on the market with raised legs – which is excellent for those with back problems.
4. Add Soil To Your Raised Bed
The next step involves you adding soil to your raised bed. This step can be pretty tricky, especially for beginner gardeners or if you’re unsure as to which sort of soil will suit your raised bed garden.
If you’re confused, it is always good to start out with a good amount of compost that you can mix in with your potting soil or topsoil to make for a good soil mixture. You can also add some organic substances such as coconut coir and spruce duff or even alkaline soil, which will do the trick for you.
You can then stir up the earthworms in the soil by putting in a layer of the new soil in your raised plant beds and mixing it. You also need to take care not to fill up your raised planters too much, and it is best to let the soil settle before planting in it.
Now, this is the exciting part that you have been waiting for – you finally get to plant your fruits and vegetables in your raised bed planters. It is essential to note the planting technique, as some can help you get the fastest yields than others.
You should keep in mind a few tricks, such as grouping together plants with very similar needs or planting low-maintenance plants right in the middle of the raised bed planter. This leaves space on the edges for you to put plants that generally require more care so you can access them easily.
You can also practice succession planting, which is planting fruits and vegetables and harvesting them in the same season. Likewise, to maximize your yield, you can also practice companion planting, which involves planting together different fruits and vegetables that need similar care.
6. Looking After Your Plants
Once you’ve planted your fruits and vegetables, it is extremely important to ensure that they’re thriving and that your soil is retaining adequate amounts of water. Owing to the structure of the raised plant beds, the soil may be extremely efficient at retaining water without getting heavy and soggy like certain soil types such as clay.
Attempt to dig with your shovel regularly into the soil to see how well the soil is absorbing water. To keep the quality of the soil from dwindling, you can also introduce frequent fertilizers into your soil to let it not fall prey to the soil depletion that succession planting usually brings with itself.
This can also help prevent the spread of any infestation, and you can also introduce compost into your soil from time to time to keep replenishing it with those organic substances your soil needs.
Also read: Mulch vs Bark – What is the Difference?
What Can You Grow In A Raised Bed Vegetable Garden?
Since it is best to be growing plants that need similar care close to each other, there are certain combinations of plants that work much better and more efficiently than others if you’re growing them in your raised bed vegetable garden.
Tomatoes are extremely easy to grow in your raised bed gardens, and most beginners are just starting out with raised bed gardening attempt to grow tomatoes for the first time.
Tomatoes require a lot of sunlight to be plump and juicy – up to eight hours, to be exact – and require many nutrients since they can be very demanding fruits. Remember to water them in plenty to get the best out of your tomatoes, and also plant them in a way so that they have plenty of space between them.
Carrots are yet another vegetable that is extremely easy to grow in raised beds for beginners. All you will need to do if you’re buying your carrots from the store is cut the end of the carrots and then put them in some water till you start to see leaves growing out of them. These are now ready to be planted, and you can put them right in the soil in your raised bed planters.
3. Kale & Swiss Chard
These can be planted together as part of the companion planting that we talked about. Both of these plants are incredibly healthy for those delicious salads and require very little maintenance as they are pretty resistant plants – growing best when it is early winter.
This is a plant that looks extremely visually appealing when it is planted and is one of the healthiest options of plants that you can grow in your raised bed garden. If you’re planning on buying your lettuce from the store, then you have to follow the same procedure as you did with the carrots – put them in some water and prepare them for planting.
Tips To Make The Most Out Of Your Raised Bed Vegetable Garden
1. This may seem like an obvious precaution, but it is extremely important to plant only the best quality seeds in your raised bed vegetable garden. You also have to take care that you plant your seeds under the season in which they’ll thrive.
2. Watering can be quite the challenge for all gardeners, especially if it is your first ever raised bed vegetable garden. Remember to not over-water your plants and only water them once you can feel the soil begin to dry up. It is also important to water your plants either early in the morning or just before evening.
3. It is important not to plant your fruits or vegetables too close together – since they may constantly combat essential nutrients and resources such as sunlight and water, and thus the overall yield will be affected.
4. Maintaining your raised bed garden, such as installing cages for protection and checking for weeds regularly, is an important part of growing your own vegetables.
5. Only harvest your vegetables or fruits when they look ripe – harvesting them either too early or too late may ruin all the effort you have put in thus far.
That was a short guide on how to plant a raised bed vegetable garden. While this seems like it may take a lot of effort to perfect, the first harvest will definitely change your mind about raised bed gardening. As opposed to traditional gardening, raised beds have more advantages and may even produce healthier and better vegetables for consumption.
So especially if you’re a beginner, you need to try out raised bed farming and see how simple it is even with minimal resources. With this short guide to answer all your “how to start a raised garden” questions, equip your rake and shovel and get to work for your newest gardening project.