March 17, 2017 | Park Ferguson, Health & Wellness Contributor
Are you eager to raise a garden this year but limited on time, space or good soil? Consider growing in raised beds.
Growing in raised beds can be a quick solution to several gardening woes and is an advantageous technique for gardeners everywhere.
One of the main advantages of growing in beds is you can do it anywhere. Building a great garden with great soil takes time and requires adequate space to do so. Almost anyone can assemble a small raised bed in a location that is convenient.
One of the toughest challenges beginning farmers face is finding soil that will foster growth for their plants. Building soil takes time and effort. Most bottom land in our area is not immediately suitable for growing great produce. Compost and other amenities may need to be added.
A gardener who is pressed for time can bring in soil for beds if they don’t already have some. This takes away the time and effort required for building compost and soil that can support life.
Achy knees or back? Raised beds reduce the need for bending over. Depending on the height of the bed or depth of the soil, regular tasks like pruning or weeding can often be done from the comfort of a stool or chair. Raised beds are excellent for people who have trouble getting up and down or bending over.
Raised beds warm up more quickly than the ground does, mainly because it is in a contained space and has a front surface that absorbs sunlight. Having soil that warms quickly is a boost for plants for several reasons. Raised beds thaw more quickly in the spring than frozen ground, extending the growing season. Also if your soil warms more quickly in the morning it gives your plants more time to grow during the day.
Beds are easier to cover as well. A gardener can easily build a low tunnel or apply row cover for pest protection because beds are a small area with a solid foundation. This can also extend your growing season and protect your plants.
Raised beds provide for better drainage and aeration for plants as well. A rich growing media with loose structure can provide for good air circulation around the roots of plants. Beds will also drain more quickly because they are elevated, reducing worries of receiving too much rainfall.
Beds are also easier to control. They are a smaller space. This makes for less of an area to treat, preserve and protect. Weed control is more easily managed in a smaller, controlled space.
Gardeners can also create compost piles in their raised beds at the end of the growing season. Mix leaf litter with food waste and a little manure in lasagna layers. Turn it from time to time. Within a few months you will have added valuable nutrients and volume to your soil. You can pile up your material or wrap your raised bed in woven wire to contain the matter and provide for aeration.
Beds are easy to construct. One can build a frame with little effort and little lumber. People often screw long planks of wood together by anchoring the inside corners with a piece of 4×4. You can also just rake up your soil into a raised bed without a container. Either one will provide many of the benefits of growing in beds.
Regardless of the scale of your operation or experience level, raised beds provide benefits to gardeners everywhere.