Growing vegetables in raised beds isn’t a new idea but it is certainly something that seems to be catching on as a way to grow vegetables which is relatively maintenance free. Using raised beds also allow for the “organised growing” of vegetables and flowers.
The main reason for growing things in raised beds was to help with poorly draining soil. Also it creates less soil compaction, warmer soil temperature in Spring, easy access and not forgetting easy weed control.
One thing I personally like is that they look neat and tidy especially if you have a small area to work with. I am going to discuss using raised beds for vegetable growing but you can just as easily grow flowers and shrubs or a combination of everything.
Making Raised Beds for Growing Vegetables
The easiest thing to do is make your own raised beds by using old railway sleepers or exterior grade wood as in the picture below. The object of a raised bed is to contain the soil so you can use pretty much use anything from old pallets to readymade plastic kits.
Once you have worked out your positioning you simply need to construct your raised bed. Make sure that if you are using untreated wood to treat it with some kind or preservative as this will prolong the life of the wood.
Once the frames have been constructed you will need to fill them with soil. Try to avoid using only garden soil or top soil as these will crust over and shrink away from your frames if the weather is hot, on the flip side if you have heavy rain the soil is likely to compact down.
Here’s my solution for the correct raised bed soil and it should work a treat.
For every 2 parts of topsoil mix in one part of organic compost matter (peat, moss, compost, etc.) and one part of sand or Perlite. Now then the Perlite and sand will handle the drainage for any excess water and the compost will help keep the soil evenly moist.
Maintaining a high level of organic compost is particularly important in raised beds because they tend to dry out quickly. As with normal garden soil, raised beds require regular compost and lime application.
Mulching is another way to help reduce water loss from the soil in raised beds.
Now that your raised beds are constructed and the soil is ready now comes the time to plant. Planting vegetables in raised beds is no different to planting them in the garden. You can still have rows if you want or you can simply plant in groups such as leafy greens in one frame, carrots and radish in other and so on.