Raised Bed Vegetable Gardening
Taking Veggies to New Heights!
By Gwen Kilchherr, Sonoma County Master Gardener
Raised beds make it easy to create a deep, fertile soil that’s high in organic matter. They allow you to completely amend your native soil – the ideal situation – or to bring in as much as 100 percent of any soil mix you’d like to fill the beds. You can use a different type of soil mix in each separate bed, tailored to each of the plant types you want to grow.
Planting in raised beds also dramatically increases the yield of the garden, too, because the soil used in them can be made ideal for rearing plants. In addition, the beds tend to warm up earlier in the spring, extending the growing season.
In addition to adding visual interest to the landscape, a raised bed garden allows you to overcome the challenges posed by rocky, clay-filled or boggy soil by replacing it with healthy, nutrient-rich soil, poured directly into the planting bed
These beds are generally 4 feet wide and can be as long as desired. The height can be almost any dimension, although 12 inches seems to be universal and allows for good root development. For watering ease, the beds should be reasonably level, both across and length-wise. Lining the beds with chicken wire for gopher protection is a good idea, and a must in many areas.
Click HERE to learn how to construct a Raised Bed
To accommodate gardeners with special needs, the bed height can be raised to minimize
bending and stooping during care and harvesting, and to allow gardening work from a wheelchair. (be sure to leave enough room between beds for easy maneuvering.)
Raised bed cultivation eventually spread throughout the world, and today, this gardening technique is regarded for its neat and orderly appearance, as well as for the outstanding results it provides.
If you normally grow vegetables in containers, you may wish to try “microgardening,” or French intensive gardening this season. This more concentrated gardening technique calls for sowing individual plants in raised areas as small as 1 square foot.
Growing vegetables in raised planting beds isn’t for everyone – but it is a great way to garden. Not only do these beds make maintaining plants and harvesting produce easier on the back, they will provide a nice addition to look to the landscape.