Spring is just around the corner here in North America, and the thoughts of many are turning to vegetable gardening. If you haven’t yet considered raised bed gardening, you are missing out on a lot of benefits!
The Biggest Benefit of Raised Bed Vegetable Gardening
One of the biggest advantages to growing in raised beds is that you can save a lot of space over the traditional row style of gardening. When planting in rows, remember that half of your available space can be taken up in walkways between the rows.
That’s a lot of wasted space! Planting in raised beds allows you to plant more per square foot than you could in rows. This means you can get a lot more produce from the same area by using raised beds.
How Raised Bed Gardening Works
Raised beds are usually no more than 4 feet wide. You must be able to reach in to care for and harvest your produce without stepping on the soil. Looser soil makes it easier for the plants to send their roots down deep, which helps more plants survive in a tighter space.
To make a raised bed, a wooden frame is set on the ground, often on tilled earth, and then filled with loose compost or topsoil. These beds are generally spaced about 18 to 24 inches apart to allow for walking between the frames to care for the plants. You will need to decide if you will be mowing the paths between the beds, or mulching them.
Planting a Raised Bed Vegetable Garden
The raised beds themselves are usually divided into 1 foot sections, with each section holding a certain number of plants based on the size of the mature plant. That is why this method of gardening has been referred to as square foot gardening.
Very large plants such as tomatoes or broccoli may need an entire square foot. Smaller plants may be planted 4, 8, or even 16 per 1 foot square. You can plant up to 16 radishes or carrots in a single square foot!
Another fantastic benefit of raised bed gardening is the fact that you don’t have as many weeds to deal with. Since the soil you place on top is generally fresh compost or soil mix, there should not be as many weed seeds in it as there would be in tilled soil. Because such a mix tends to be looser soil, any weeds that do make it into your garden are more easily pulled out.
Raised bed gardeners often find caring for their gardens much easier. With fewer weeds and plants that are closer together, gardening becomes a pleasure rather than a chore. It is also a great way to get more produce out of the space you have available.
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