We probably all dream of an expansive, tillable garden space with endless possibilities, and not to mention endless weeds! But for some of us with limited space, poor soil or in my case, very little soil because of the ledge, raised beds are a wonderful option. If you want to grow some of your own produce with minimal long term effort, consider building one or more raised beds.
I have four 12’x3′ beds, three raised beds in my hoophouse, two rocked herb beds and two mound gardens. We can grow quite a bit of food for ourselves and it doesn’t seem to be limiting at all. In the summer, I can cruise right on by that veggie isle on most occasions because I’ve got stuff to eat of my own.
Now I hear you, it does cost something to put these beds together. I understand. Growing our own vegetables is supposed to save us some cash, right. Believe me, you will recoup your costs when things start growing. But, putting that initial cost into the beds really pays off. You end up with easy to maintain, tidy, veggie-producing powerhouses!
Building and filling the boxes will be the hardest part. After the initial work, everything is fairly easy, trust me. Raised beds can be made of wooden boards, logs, bricks, cinder blocks, the list goes on. Try to avoid using pressure treated lumber, old tires, wood with lead paint or any other toxic substance. We use three long screws to secure each corner. Size will depend on your space and how much garden you want to take on. I like to keep them 3′ wide so I can reach across the bed without straining. Put your ideas on paper, figure up the materials and get started. Some lumber stores will even do the cutting for you!
After building the boxes, cardboard can be put in the ground to block out the weeds. If digging critters are a concern, hardware cloth can be put under the soil. Add a good amount of loam, then mix in peat and compost or aged manure for a light, fertile mixture. Because the beds are up off the ground, they dry out quicker than most traditional gardens. This is great for early planting but be careful in warmer climates. These beds need to be kept relatively moist.
Some gardeners like to put paths in between their beds. We have grass in our paths. This way, we just mow in between the beds. If you are particularly ambitious, stone or bricks would be beautiful!
There are many options for raised bed gardens. A raised bed would be ideal for adding an herb garden or a small kitchen garden right out your back door. They are great for season extension. Making a hoop over the bed makes my winter lettuce production possible. My blog post Self-proclaimed Salad Green Queen explains a little about the methods. Raised beds are so easy to maintain and much easier on your back. I can’t say enough about them!
Do some research. There are a ton of ideas out there to inspire you. Pinterest has so many great pictures of what you do. Once you start looking, you’ll want to fill just about anything with dirt and grow some edibles. If you have raised beds, what do you like about them?
We had some snow here in Midcoast Maine the other day but the gardens were happy for the drink. The black flies are beginning to swarm around our heads so we know spring is here. Thanks for joining me today. You can always see what I’m up to in the garden by following me on Instagram @everlongardener, Pinterest or subscribe in the sidebar to receive weekly blog posts! Have a great week!