Thirty-five percent of American households are growing food in gardens.
That number continues to rise. Millennials are the fastest growing population of food gardeners.
A lot of this popularity comes with the new fad of raised bed gardening. Raised bed gardening allows you to garden in any outdoor area with ease.
Read below to discover 10 things you need to know about raised bed gardening.
1. Decide on Building or Buying
When you first decide to try raised bed gardening, you need to choose to buy or build your bed.
Buying your bed is the best option if you are looking for ease. Buying an already constructed bed is more expensive than building your own.
Visit your local hardware or outdoor store to find the right match for you. Choose from wood, metal, or plastic beds based on your needs and price range.
Building your own bed takes more time and skill but comes with a smaller price tag.
You can customize your garden bed to the exact shape you need to fit your space. You will also have control over the materials used. To get started, find instructions online. You can also buy a kit that contains raw materials and instructions.
2. Choose the Right Size
Not all raised garden beds are equal. The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing your size is accessibility.
You want to make sure your garden is big enough to hold your plants but small enough to maintain. Lay down string to map out different sizes. Make sure that you can reach the middle of the bed without needing to step inside and disrupt your plants.
It’s always better to build several smaller beds than one large, unmaintainable bed. Typical raised garden beds are four feet wide with varying lengths.
3. Pick the Perfect Spot
The great thing about raised garden beds is that they can sit anywhere. These beds can go in your yard like traditional gardens or live on your driveway or patio.
Make sure to study the shade vs. sun ratio of your spot. Depending on what you need to plant, you may need complete sun or some shade may suffice.
Something else to consider is the proximity to your home, especially your kitchen. If you enjoy cooking with your vegetables or herbs you’ll want your garden close.
Once you pick the perfect spot for your raised garden bed, you need to decorate that area. Check out these 10 decorating tips for your outdoor space.
4. Consider the Soil
An advantage of a raised garden bed is that you control the soil. Stop trying to garden in your clay or rocky soil. Start fresh with a raised garden bed and watch your plants flourish.
Buy the best quality of soil you can afford. Don’t use all the soil at once. Keep some of your soil to replenish your garden bed when you notice it getting low. This happens naturally over time. Make sure you also use compost to fertilize your soil.
You can calculate how much soil you will need here.
5. Plan an Irrigation System
You don’t want to waste time and money on your raised garden bed and ignore your water source. Even plants in the wettest of climates will need your help every once in a while.
A drip irrigation system is the most popular choice. This can run below or on top of your soil. It will deliver slow drips of water straight to the roots of your plants. This saves on water and helps your soil maintain its nutrients. You can buy kits with all the materials or buy your supplies separate.
Remember you can always go old school and use an outdoor hose. Don’t forget about your plants, especially on warm days.
7. Figure Out What to Plant
Figuring out what to plant is the most fun, but also most important, step.
The number one thing to consider is what you want out of your garden. Do you want vegetables or herbs to cook with? Would you prefer pretty flowers? This choice is up to you based on your preference.
Figure out each plants lifespan and plant accordingly. You want to maximize the amount plants you can raise in each season. Be sure to think ahead and allow room for each plant to grow.
8. Tending to Your Garden
Keep an eye on weeds in your garden as they steal nutrients from your plants. Weed as often as needed to keep your plants healthy.
If you’re growing beans or tomatoes you will need to keep a watchful eye out. As they grow, certain plants need extra help. Decide whether you want to use cages, trellises or poles to help provide support.
Harvest your plants as soon as they are ready. Leaving behind diseased or rotted plants leads to pests and widespread problems.
9. Cover Up Your Soil
After you’ve harvested your plants, cover up your soil.
Plant annual cover crops at the end of your season, like ryegrass or clover. These plants will reduce erosion and add nutrients to the soil.
Some people choose to cover their soil with mulch at the end of the season. Mulch helps regulate soil temperature and provides nutrients for the soil.
10. Use a Bed Shaper
Consider using a bed shaper if you want several raised beds. These help ensure your beds remain consistent in size and shape. They’re ideal for larger farms and serious growers.
Bed shapers come in a variety of sizes to fit each grower’s wants and needs.
You can learn more about bed shapers from Kennco Manufacturing.
Beyond Raised Bed Gardening
After you’ve given raised bed gardening a try and have your first project planted, sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Once you’ve finished this project, consider starting one of the following:
- Tiered gardens walls bring height and plants to an otherwise empty location.
- Planter boxes brighten up the look of your home.
- Create and design your own hanging plant arrangements.
- Start an indoor herb garden in your kitchen.
View our blog to discover more ideas for your next DIY project.