Beginner’s Guide to Raised Bed Gardening Gardening Tips and Techniques on Organic Raised Bed Gardening
The first time I came across an example of raised bed gardening, my reaction was, that is an extremely sensible way of gardening, you do not have to stoop down to ground level. I was seeing these raised garden beds in a friend’s home. She loved gardening. She also had back trouble. So crouching down in front of her beloved flower and vegetable as well as herbal garden in order to de-weed them was purgatory to her.
And then her handy do-it-yourself practical husband said, “Why don’t we raise the crops and plants in beds which are waist high?” And he immediately set about building 4 feet wide beds, in square shaped blocks with wood. The soil was raised above ground level, and placed in that wooden frame. The results were amazing.
It was only 10 years later that I found out that raised bed gardening was being practiced extensively all over the world. Avid gardeners were making bed frames out of concrete, rock, and even wood. They made the containers to their own particular requirements, with dimensions ranging from 1.0 m to 2 m, depending on the space they had.
Gardening in containers is all very well, but raised gardening eliminates the use of pots.
Tips and techniques for raised bed gardening
Remember that the space is limited here. So we cannot afford the normal 6 inches between each plant planting space which we take for granted when we are planting our plants.
We are going to plant the seedlings really close together. That is because we want to make our own microclimate in an area where fully grown plants have leaves touching each other. This is going to discourage the growth of weeds. It is also going to conserve the moisture content in the soil.
The Benefits of Raised Bed Gardening
Raised gardening is definitely going to get you a better harvest than ground-level gardening
Apart from the practical benefit that you do not have to stoop so much, and you are utilizing more space by gardening in containers, the planting season is extended. Your garden looks aesthetically beautiful. Rich organic soil in your container has definitely the upper hand over poor soil, which has been depleted during previous plantings of its nutrients and minerals.
So while you are allowing that soil to become enriched again [yes,DIY planted peas, and alfalfa and legumes under the raised beds. Yes, they need sun, and so they did not grow very well in the shade. But the plants that grew were healthy enough and sturdy enough to replace the nitrogen content in the soil.] you are still getting a healthy harvest from your garden.
Also, the soil does not get compacted. That is because you are not stomping around the garden beds with seven league gardening boots. That is why, the roots, which have space to grow in that soil can flourish and so you have larger plants.
Higher yield The planting of the plants really close to each other, and lots of organic compost not allowed to drain away to other parts of the garden bed while watering – this is what happens in conventional beds – and so you are going to get a higher yield in your raised beds, than what you could expect from normal ground-level gardening done in rows.
Therapeutic gardening – Also, raised beds are excellent for therapeutic gardening, especially when many doctors are recommending gardening as an excellent way for older people doing some constructive and healthy outdoor activity. So it does not matter now if once upon a time, you were an avid gardener, but now you could not enjoy that activity because of difficulty in stooping, kneeling, or any other such action brought about through old age. Thanks to raised bed gardening, you can stand and garden!
Raised bed gardening is the complex method of permaculture, simplified for a newbie gardener. Many of the methods and principles used in permaculture are being utilized here. For newbies, permaculture is a method of sustainable gardening, where you utilize every inch of the soil in limited space constructively. You are working with nature, not against her. You are building up a long-lasting self-sufficient ecosystem, which is going to last for ages and is going to help rejuvenate the soil.
I saw a gardener who is restricted to her wheelchair gardening happily on a raised bed. This was 30 inches high. It was narrow – just 3 feet wide. So she had easy access to all parts of the bed from her chair. Also, this was excellent mental and spiritual her therapy, because she knew that she was doing something constructive and also, she did not have any time to brood over her bad physical condition.
I really appreciated the effort of her son, who sensibly enough, made these beds for her. Also, he had this good topic of discussion with her every evening when he came back from the office. It was, “mom, which seedlings do you want? Mom, these tomatoes and greens are delicious. Mom, do you want me to order another cartload of organic fertilizer?” [Yes, in many parts of the East we still get them by the cartload or the truckload. They are dumped in the corner of the garden by farmers who are glad to get rid of all that extra manure profitably.]
And mom beamed all over her face. I keep wondering why more old people and also those suffering from depression, just because they think that they are not needed anymore are not encouraged to do this beneficial version of sustainable gardening – gardening on raised beds.
Conserving water in raised beds.
When you are watering raised beds, you are just irrigating limited space. The drainage is going to going the soil underneath and keep it moist too. If you have done as I suggested, and you have planted plants underneath the raised beds, you do not need to water that soil on the ground. The microclimate due to the raised bed and the water soaking through the soil and draining downwards is enough to prevent overwatering in that particular area.
Herbal Plants in Your Raised Garden
Herbs used for flavoring foods, and providing pleasant aromas and scents as well as serving as herbal medicines can also be an integral part of your raised garden. The best herb I would suggest here is mint. Mint should be grown in a little limited portion. Given half a chance, and plenty of sun and water, it is going to take over all of your garden when grown on the ground. But in a boxed container, it is just going to hang over the sides, and grow and grow.
I do hope this book has encouraged you to take up sustainable and raised gardening. The initial work, especially the building of beds is going to take a little bit of effort, but when you have the enthusiasm and when you have the willpower, nothing is impossible. It is our own Won’t Power which prevents us from learning something or doing something, which benefits us in the long run.
Nevertheless, this sort of sustainable gardening is going to help rejuvenate the earth while providing you with your own victory garden. Also, you are using natural methods to conserve water and using all the natural resources of the earth without using harmful pesticides and insecticides.
So enjoy the fruit of Mother Nature’s bounty,
Live Long and Prosper.