24 Aug RAISED BEDS FOR EDIBLE GARDENS
While my raised beds won’t win any design awards, they do their job with my edible garden. But that begs the question — why do we use raised beds so often for edible gardens? Do we have to? What are the benefits, and what qualifies a bed to be “raised?” Do you need to consider adding raised beds?
There are two main reasons to construct raised beds — to address poor or shallow soil issues, and to increase ease of maintenance. For gardeners with rocky, clay, or sandy soils, raised beds help your veggies to thrive with quality soil that is well drained. And for gardeners with any mobility issues, raised beds are much easier to tend than those constructed at ground level.
So what do you need to know? Follow three easy steps to before starting construction — we know that good, successful gardens are mostly in the planning and preparation!
1. Locate a sunny, level area. Most edible plants love as much sun as you can give them, so look for a site in your yard that gets 6-8 hours of full sun a day. If that site is fairly level, so much the better — while creating raised beds on a slope is possible, of course, it’s much easier and less expensive if you can minimize retaining wall-type construction.
2. Choose your construction materials. Lots of material types are appropriate for raised bed borders, and your choice mostly depends upon the look you are going for and your budget. Wood (2 x 4, 2 x 6 or landscape timbers) is a classic and inexpensive choice, but avoid railroad ties as they are typically soaked with chemicals that are not compatible with edibles. Other material options are mortared stone, rolled steel or simple cinderblocks.
3. Determine your raised bed size. Plan for a 4′ wide bed at whatever length works for you (4′, 6′, 8′, etc.). The narrower width allows you to easily tend the garden from either side without having to step into the bed or reach too far. As for height, 6 – 12″ tall is plenty for providing adequate soil depth, but if you have any mobility issues, plan for taller sides (18 – 24″ or more) so you can sit on the edge of the bed to water, weed, and harvest.