How’s your garden? Raised Beds Offer Great Benefits – Shaw Local

If you dream of starting your summer vegetable garden, you may be considering raised beds. Switching to raised bed gardening can make gardening easier and more enjoyable, and you don’t have to wait for the ground to thaw to start designing and building your flower beds.

The benefits of raised bed gardening are numerous. For me, it was a way to organize my garden, improve my garden soil and manage weeds. Here are some tips to help you get started:

Placement. Make sure your raised beds are placed where they will receive at least six hours of direct sunlight. You will need to kill grass or weeds under the beds, so place cardboard or a thick layer of newspaper before placing the boxes. Also make sure you have access to water nearby.

Route planning. Raised beds provide easy access to your plants, but don’t skimp on the area between your raised beds, which is important for moving not only yourself, but also a wheelbarrow or cart around your garden. Allow at least 2-3 feet between beds. To keep weeds at bay in your walkways, you can use cardboard covered with woodchips, plant grass between your flower beds, or pave walkways with brick pavers. Brick pavers will cost a little more, but will give you a clean, firm surface to walk on for many years.

Design and manufacture of boxes. Design raised beds to make it easier to access your plants. For example, a 4 foot by 6 foot bed means you only need to reach 2 feet into the bed to plant, water, weed, harvest or otherwise care for your plants, and without needing to enter in your garden beds, it will prevent soil compaction. To build a 4-foot by 6-foot raised bed, look for cedar, recycled plastic lumber, or 2-inch by 10-inch pressure-treated lumber in 10-foot lengths. Do your research before choosing any wood. Untreated Douglas fir or pine will rot quickly and invite pests like wood ants and termites. Pressure treated wood is the most affordable, and it is fungicide and insecticide, however, you may have heard that it can be toxic to the garden. The new pressure-treated wood uses alkaline copper quaternary, and according to the American Wood Protection Association and the US Environmental Protection Agency, wood treated with ACQ is considered safe for vegetable gardens, but if you’re still worried, you You can upholster your beds with polypropylene fabric lining.

Ground. An important advantage of raised beds is that you can control the quality of the soil. Fill your raised beds a few inches from the top with a mixture of 35% topsoil and 65% organic compost and aged manure. This will provide the right amount of drainage and contribute to plant health. Topsoil, compost and aged manure can be purchased in bags from local stores or, if you have several raised beds, there are several local suppliers who will deliver the soil by the cubic yard.

Plant protection. It may be easier to protect plants from pests with raised beds. For shorter plants like beets and Swiss chard, you can build a wire cover or box to sit on the beds. This is very effective in keeping away wild animals like rabbits, raccoons and even deer. These covers also make it easy to add shade on extremely hot days, protect against light frost on cold days, or deter flying insects by attaching the appropriate weight fabric to the cover.

Crop rotation. It is important to rotate the location of your garden plants each year to prevent disease. If you have three or more raised beds, crop rotation is straightforward for the recommended 3-year rotation.

Longer growing period. Raised beds can extend your growing season in several ways. First, raised ground warms up faster in the spring. You can help this by covering the beds with dark fabric or transparent plastic, making a temporary greenhouse. I accidentally discovered that a full size fitted sheet fits perfectly on a 4ft by 6ft raised garden bed. The sides of the box tend to keep the mulch or straw from blowing away on windy spring days.

Raised beds can give your garden an inviting appearance. Arrange your beds to encourage family and friends to stroll in and through. Add marigolds or nasturtiums for color, as well as insect protection. A garden shouldn’t be a chore, but a peaceful, easy-going place in your yard.

Gardening questions for the Master Gardener help desk can be emailed to [email protected].

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