Are Raised Beds Better for a Vegetable Garden?

Question:

My late husband was the vegetable gardener, he passed away last yr. My daughter tried to do some in his honor but it didn't work out. I would like to try again with a few that we enjoy, like tomatoes, peppers, onions, potatoes, etc. I have seen on TV people doing raised gardens. Is this a better way to do them and what needs to be done. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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Ruth from Ontario, Canada

Answer:

Hi Ruth,

Please accept my condolences on the loss of your husband. Personally, I'm a big fan of raised beds for growing both vegetables and flowers. Raised beds are simple to construct and easier (in my opinion) to maintain. You never walk on them, just in between them, and they can be built in all types of shapes and sizes and to whatever height suits you.

Constructing them is straightforward. Start by selecting a suitable site (full sun for vegetables). Try to allow enough space in between each bed (2 to 3 feet) so you have enough room for walking, as well as maneuvering your garden cart or wheelbarrow. Remove the sod from the site by slicing just below the roots using a flat bladed or regular pointed blade shovel. Soak the area with water a few days before digging to make this job easier.

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Once the sod and existing weeds are cleared away, dig down at least 18-24 inches into the exposed soil to turn over and loosen it up. This is also a good time to place plastic edging around the perimeter of your beds to keep grass from moving in and taking over. Mix in some fresh topsoil and a bit of compost to bring the soil level up to an few inches below the height of your framing material.

Frame the sides of you beds with cinder blocks, bricks, landscaping timbers or rock. If using commercial landscaping timbers, make sure they are untreated in order to avoid leaching chemicals into your soil. If using railroad ties, avoid new ties, as they contain a lot of creosote. Secure wood framing together with bolts or by pounding metal stakes into the ground on either side of the timbers to hold them in place.

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Good luck to you!

Ellen

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February 5, 20080 found this helpful

Here are 3 websites which will answer a lot of your questions.

www.hgtv.com/.../0,,HGTV_3570_2608081,00.html

www.humeseeds.com/vegplan.htm

www.sinsleystuff.info/raisedbed.html

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By Taloola (Guest Post)
February 7, 20080 found this helpful

Hi,
Yes, raised beds are better, it's about the water drainage.
Check out http://www.betterhomesandgardens...
you should be able to search for the info from there.

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February 8, 20080 found this helpful

I have had vegetable gardens for years. A few years back my hubby made me two large raised beds, @ 25' long by 5' wide. I love them and wish I had them years ago.

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They are easier to water, much,much easier to weed. They seem to have less weeds than a flat garden. Also they a easier on the back when you do have to weed. I use a sponge knee pad when weeding. Plus you have the edge of the bed to lean on or sit on for a rest.
A couple of tips I would give is make sure they are no more than @ 5' wide, you want something that you can reach the middle from both sides. Second make sure they are at least 3' apart so that when you kneel to
weed is enough room for your legs.

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February 10, 20080 found this helpful

I have been growing in raised beds for the last three years. I have grown tomatoes, peppers, butternut squash, lettuce, carrots, kohlrabi, radishes, garlic, onions, and herbs. They all do very well in raised beds.

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What I would recommend is a good composted soil to start with. We also lined the insides and bottom with newspaper to inhibit weed growth. Make sure the paper is very wet before you put the soil in.

Hope this helps.

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February 14, 20080 found this helpful

My condolences on losing your husband. Great advice on the raised bed, but you can do them without the sides. We have gardening organically in raised beds for over 25 years and never bother to put up permanent sides. We use a Troybilt rototiller to turn the earth and till in the compost, then just shovel the soil up to about 8" to 10" and plant. I use radishes as a marker between the sections. It's easy to see where you left off planting and have early bonus munchies at the same time. :) Good luck I hope you have great success.

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February 16, 20080 found this helpful

We started building raised beds about 3 years ago and I love them!

Ours are waist high....image weeding with NO bending. We have built them about 14' long and just under 4' wide. We have 7 now and, because we plant our vine vegetables on the perimeter of our property, I think the 7 will be plenty.

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I think they are certainly worth the initial effort.

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