From the Desk of Ed Hume: Growing Vegetables in Raised Beds

March 21, 2011 at 12:00 AM Leave a comment

One of the greatest advantages of growing vegetables in raised beds is increased soil temperature.  It’s estimated that soil temperature can increase as much as 8 to 13 degrees by simply raising the soil level.   As a result, you can often plant earlier and harvest later into the autumn because of the warmer soil temperature.  Another advantage is better drainage, and that’s particularly important in a moist marine climate.  Raised beds also mean you don’t have to bend over as far, and that’s a bit easier on the back.  It makes it easier to reach in to weed, water, feed, and even harvest your vegetables.

So how does one go about making a raised bed?  There are several ways!  One is to simply mound your soil, taking the soil in the aisles and placing it on top of your vegetable planting area.  If you have a large vegetable garden, there is an attachment that fits on roto-tillers that does that for you.  The attachment actually pushes the soil upward on top of the adjoining soil, thus creating a raised bed.  When using this method, make your beds about 2 to 4 feet wide.

If you have a limited area in which to grow vegetables, the raised beds are often enclosed in wood, landscape blocks, bricks, rock, vinyl, or other materials.  Usually the minimum height is 10 inches and the maximum height is about waist high.  The higher height is ideal for older folks or those with physical disabilities.  The average width is usually 3 or 4 feet.  Make the width convenient for you; is it easier to reach in 18 inches (from each side) or can you easily reach in 24 inches?

If you use treated wood to make your raised beds, be certain to check that the brand you choose is safe to use for growing vegetables.   Never use railroad ties as they contain creosote.   Use wood that is at least 2 X 10 inches for raised beds.  Smaller dimensions (board sizes) do not support enough soil depth to grow many vegetables.

Although it is more expensive, some styles of landscape blocks, bricks, and stone make very attractive raised beds.   And it is easy to make an attractive, convenient seating area on top.

We have 5 raised beds in our garden and find them to be an attractive, positive, worthwhile way in which to grow a bountiful yield of vegetables.

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Entry filed under: Articles. Tags: , , , , , , , .

Clip of the Week: Preparing a Raised Vegetable Garden Ed’s Podcasts: Starting Seeds

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