What is raised bed organic vegetable gardening all about and why should you bother?

Before I get into that I’ll talk a bit about raised beds themselves. Raised beds are effectively “free standing” garden beds above the natural terrain of your garden or allotment.

In many areas around the world the soil you use to grow things contains too much sand or clay, or has too much alkaline in it for some plants to grow well. Added to that, your soil maybe poorly aerated due to compaction or poor drainage.

So creating raised beds for organic vegetable gardening eliminates all of the above because you can control the soil that goes into them. They are also a great time saver because changing soil that has too much sand for instance, takes time. With raised beds you simple add topsoil that is ready to accept plants or seeds.You may want to add compost to your soil from your organic compost heap to give your plants a good start.

One other bonus to creating raised beds is they are easy to maintain, a smaller amount of weeds will appear and when any do you can get rid of them easily. Now that I’ve given you an easy way to get started with raised bed organic vegetable gardening, let’s look at what you need to do first.

Planning your raised bed garden.

The first thing you need to do is decide how many raised beds you want, what size they are going to be, what they will be constructed of  and where they will be located. Remember site selection and plant selection go hand in hand. Many vegetables, ornamentals and herbs require a lot of sunlight. Any beds for these plants should be located where they will receive full sun.

If that is not possible, select a site that receives morning rather than afternoon sun. Some organic vegetables can be grown in shady areas such as broccoli, cabbage and lettuce. Also, some ornamental plants do best in partial shade.

Raised beds should also have good drainage because soil that stays wet will starve your plants of oxygen. There are a number of things you can do to improve drainage. Start by adding a course grade of Perlite to your soil and see how that does.

Now that you have the locations of your raised beds sorted out you will need to look at how you intend to construct them.

Metal.

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Metal edging usually comes in 4- to 6-inch(100 to120mm) wide metal strip in a variety of  lengths. These come with all the various stakes and full instructions on how to assembly them correctly.

Brick/Cinder Blocks.

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This is not a very popular way to create a raise bed but they can look architectural especially if you mix up different colour bricks.

Landscape Timbers.

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This is by far the most popular way of creating a raised bed. You can use railway sleepers, timber bought and stained and tree logs.

Level the perimeter of the bed so that the first layer of timbers is level or set at the desired slope. Drive rebar or galvanized spikes approximately 12 to 18 inches (300mm to 450mm) into the soil through the ends of the timbers at 20-degree angles to the centre of the timber. Overlap successive layers of timbers and nail them to the previous layer with galvanized spikes.

Pre-constructed wooden raised beds.

These are becoming more and more popular as you simply clip them together to the size you want. You can find out more about these here.

Now you have your raised bed organic vegetable garden in place all that is left is to start planting and enjoy the fruits of your labour!

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