The raised beds at the Garden Farm™.Are you building a raised bed garden, or are you looking to improve your raised bed crops?As a long-time raised bed gardener, I am thrilled to see how many of you are looking to start your raised beds for the very first time – and want to make sure you get off on the right foot.One thing is certain, the information available on the internet regarding materials, methods, risks, etc.It’s my goal to answer all your questions from A to Z, planning to harvest and maintenance, starting with this first episode in this raised bed gardening series.My Raised Bed Gardening Background.We’ve seen beds over concrete, lots of community gardens, just about everything.Six seasons later, the gardens are beautiful, incredibly productive and a little easier to keep in “television-ready” shape.The truth is, I feel that all these years televising my gardening techniques – regardless of the location – my garden has been … everybody’s garden.I’ve just been in charge of building and maintaining it.Why Use Raised Garden Beds?Raised beds provide you control over the health of the soil in which you are growing your plants.The goal is to create a deep, wide growing area that encourages plant roots to grow down and outward.When the bed is contained in a structure, you are better able to really get in there and work your bed without impacting the overall shape.Just that little bit of added convenience makes it easier to work in the garden, even on those days where I might be tempted to just kick back with a cold beverage.Raising the garden surface raises your plants above problem soil and can prevent plant roots from reaching those contaminants.So, no matter how bad the ground you’re starting with, anyone anywhere can grow a productive raised bed garden.Building raised beds can be expensive.For most, this is a benefit, but if there’s a possibility you will need to relocate your garden in coming years, a permanent raised bed structure will need to be deconstructed.The raised soil is more exposed to heat and cold than surface soil.Raised soil can dry out more quickly than surface soil.Garden Area Planning.You don’t need to have a lot of space to build a raised bed garden.Be sure to check out the Growing a Greener World blog on that topic and the considerations on this.It’s best if the garden area is relatively level.Get that area as level as you can before you build.If your spot isn’t level, and you don’t have the ability to level the ground, just bear in mind that your raised bed surfaces will need to be level once complete.If not, will it be practical to lay a garden hose from the spigot to the garden area?If at all possible, don’t site your garden in an area where water tends to pool on your property.(If you checked out last week’s podcast, you’d know that an 18” depth is also the perfect seating height.).It’s important that you don’t have to step into the bed to weed, plant, etc., as that will compact the soil and affect drainage and overall health.Solarize the area.Remember that this process kills the weeds down to about 3” of soil, so if you dig after solarization, you’ll be bringing those deeper weed seeds back to the surface to cause you more grief.One drawback to solarization is the ultimate disposal of the plastic sheeting.Bermuda grass is so persistent; it is the only time I might consider placing a layer of landscape cloth under my raised bed structures.I strongly encourage you to build some sort of border around the edge of your bed to prevent Bermuda grass creeping in from the perimeter.It doesn’t take much to kill a season or more of garden crop, so think twice before deciding to take this particular shortcut.I’ve received lots of questions about building raised beds on this.The deeper you build your beds, the less likely this will be a problem, and again if this is the best area you have to work with, don’t let that hold you back!Why do materials matter?Secondly, the soil you place in your bed will need to remain fairly moist, and the exterior surfaces of your bed will be spending a lot of time in the hot sun.The lifespan of your wood will depend on wood type and your environment.It’s more a matter of maintenance and realistically assessing what will work best for you and your family.I recommend against painting the exterior only of your raised bed structure.The wood exposed to the moist soil will wick up moisture, but the exterior paint won’t allow the wood to fully “breathe.” So by painting the exterior only, you will be trapping the moisture inside and shortening the lifespan of your wood.Treated Wood:.Treated wood has been infused with chemical elements to preserve the wood.They have a higher concentration of copper but don’t have the arsenic.When you (or especially, your kids) sit on or lean on treated wood, your skin or clothing is most likely to absorb the copper or arsenic leaching out of the wood to remain on the surface.In other words, really healthy soil with lots of organic matter does not take up arsenic by plant roots.At any rate, that would be a good indicator of a potential problem – in which case you might want to think about having your soil tested for metal concentrations.While we’re on the subject, root vegetables are at greatest risk of being impacted by leaching, as most metals (when taken up) remain in plant roots.Studies further show that those root vegetables are impacted most on their surface.In short: Keep your soil near neutral and add lots of compost (more on both of these later), thoroughly wash off the soil and peel the skin from your root vegetables, and avoid contact with the exterior surface of the treated wood.So, yes, those metals are in the concrete blocks that line your vegetable garden too.Then, it’s a matter of several factors that determine the potential risk to what you are growing.So, how much fly ash is absorbed by soil held within a concrete block structure?If you have beds made from concrete blocks, just avoid anything that would cause them to break to the point that the dust from pulverized pieces can come in contact with plant roots.If building raised beds over a concrete surface, the same risks and preventions would apply.There is so much information out there on the subject, and it will quickly take you in many directions.Composite Wood:.Composite wood is made of recycled materials and can last for years.Railroad ties are made with creosote, an oil distilled from coal tar.While there have been few studies on the impact of using them to contain edible plants, I’ll take the advice provided directly from the EPA on creosote:.One thing you should bear in mind, however, is heat and drainage.Whether you use metal sheeting or a trough, that metal will absorb and reflect heat from the sun – more than other materials.Some can be expensive, and the material with which they are made can vary widely.I recently built raised beds on an episode of Growing a Greener World, so check that out.If you use any of the above materials with the potential of leaching, you might be inclined to line the bed with plastic.Yes, this will provide a barrier between the bed material and your soil.But don’t lose sight of the plastic material itself.Don’t block drainage with plastic.With all of these products, I recommend you do your own research to feel comfortable in your choice.Be sure to watch for next week’s podcast when I’ll continue the raised bed journey, discussing two of the raised bed topics that generated the most questions – structure material and soil.Episode 041: Small Space Garden Design joegardener Blog: No-Till Gardening: If You Love Your Soil, Ditch the Tiller.Episode 043: Raised Bed Gardening, Pt.Episode 044: Raised Bed Gardening, Pt. .

6 things to think about before preparing a raised bed garden

However, for the purpose of this article, I’m going to talk about the standard rectangular raised beds that are generally built from untreated, rot-resistant wood (like Niki’s amazing raised bed setup) or concrete blocks, as well as what you might want to think about when preparing a raised bed garden.Things to think about when preparing a raised bed garden.If you are putting your raised bed on a hard surface, like a driveway, or over hard-packed soil, you want to make sure it’s deep enough for plants (especially root vegetables like beets and carrots) to root.Here are some tips for planning where to put your raised bed.The grass will break down and voilà!Do you want to install irrigation?As far as type of soil, I like to emphasize buying the best quality that you can afford when preparing a raised bed garden.Please visit this link if you want more details on the best soil for raised beds.One thing I wish that I had done when I built my first two raised beds is install a couple of midpoint stakes to prevent the beds from shifting over time.Do you garden in raised beds? .

A Quick-Start Guide to Elevated Raised Beds

By growing in a raised bed, you can have a productive, abundant vegetable garden — even in just a few square feet.If it's a Gardener's Supply bed, you'll find the soil quantity listed with the product details.When you're filling the beds, be sure to mix in some granular fertilizer, which will get the plants off to a good start.Pick a sunny site; vegetables need at least eight hours of sun each day.Check with your county's Cooperative Extension Service to get the dates, or use an online resource.The granular fertilizer added at the beginning of the season gives your plants a great start.Keep the show growing with regular applications of liquid fertilizer, applied at the rate recommended on the package. .

Raised bed gardens

Whether you dig out your pathways or not, be sure the access areas around the raised beds are at least 24 inches wide.To make the bed itself, add four to six inches of finished compost, peat moss or well-rotted manure to the existing area.Shape the tilled soil into a flat mound about eight inches high, with sides that taper up at a 45-degree angle.Once created, raised ground beds need only minor reshaping with a rake at the start of each season. .

Vegetable Gardening for Beginners: The Basics of Planting

This year, we’ve added a “starter” garden plan consisting of easy-to-grow vegetables, companion planting techniques, and some lovely flowers!If you’ve never tasted garden-fresh food, you will be amazed by the sweet, juicy flavors and vibrant textures.If you have rocky soil, till and remove the rocks, as they will interfere with root growth and make for weaker plants.Stable and not windy: Avoid places that receive strong winds that could knock over your young plants or keep pollinators from doing their job.For example, a garden that feeds a family of four could include: 3 hills of yellow squash; 1 mound of zucchini; 10 assorted peppers; 6 tomato plants; 12 okra plants; a 12-foot row of bush beans; 2 cucumbers on a cage; 2 eggplant; 6 basil; 1 rosemary, and a few low-growing herbs such as oregano, thyme, and marjoram.Whatever the size of your garden: Every four feet or so, make sure that you have paths that allow you to access your plants to weed and harvest.However, it would also be wise to contact your state’s Cooperative Extension Service to find out what plants grow best in your area.For example, if you live in an area with extremely hot weather, vegetables that prefer cooler temps may struggle.Mix in flowers such as marigolds—which discourage pests, attracts pollinators, and adds some color!(Of course, you could always give excess veggies away to friends, family, or the local soup kitchen.).Also, certain veggies are so far superior when homegrown, it’s almost a shame not to consider them (we’re thinking of garden lettuce and tomatoes).Or, you could just grow cool-season crops such as lettuce, kale, peas, and root veggies during the cooler months of late spring and early fall.A few extra cents spent in spring for that year’s seeds will pay off in higher yields at harvesttime.“Cool-season” vegetables such as lettuce and brocoil and peas grow in cooler weather of early spring (and fall).“Warm-season” such as tomatoes and peppers and cucumbers aren’t planted until the soil warms up in late spring and summer.If you’re planning on growing “perennial” crops such as asparagus, rhubarb, and some herbs, provide permanent locations or beds.Consider that some crops mature quickly and have a very short harvest period (radishes, bush beans).See the Almanac’s Best Planting Dates—a gardening calendar customized to your local frost dates.For specific planting information, see our individual Grow Guides for over 100 popular vegetables, herbs, and fruit.For each crop, we provide specific information about how to plant, grow, and harvest, including watering and fertilizing and pest control!With this tool, draw your garden plan on the computer and drop in your preferred vegetables, and it automatically calculates the proper spacing for each type of crop!Then you can print out your plan and the tool reminds you of your seeding and harvesting dates for every vegetable!Over time, you’ll see that this tool also provides “crop rotation” so that if you plan a second season, you can properly reposition your plants to avoid pests and disease. .

Raised Bed Gardens

The program has since grown to over 100 gardens hosted at schools, food cupboards and social service agencies.Our partners collectively grow 40,000 pounds of vegetables annually for our network of food cupboards and meal sites.The Raised Bed Garden Program aims to increase availability of fresh produce for food insecure households by.Classes are led by teams of 2 facilitators and are taught both indoors and outdoors with hands-on activities for 8-15 adult participants.We welcome home gardeners to grow and donate produce to your local food cupboard. .

All About Raised-Bed Gardens

Of course, you don’t need a raised bed to grow great-tasting produce—most any plot of flat ground that gets full sun will suffice for that.But gardening in a raised bed offers a number of advantages.Build the sides high enough and you can even garden while sitting.Raised-Bed Gardens.Seaman, who shares his gardening know-how online at, has been growing vegetables in raised beds for nearly 40 years.Choose a spot that gets at least 8 hours of sun a day, and orient each bed so its long side runs east to west.Choose a spot that gets at least 8 hours of sun a day, and orient each bed so its long side runs east to west.Beds built with western red cedar can last 10 to 15 years; galvanized steel, 20 years; masonry or plastic composites, indefinitely.Build a Raised Garden Bed from Scratch or a Kit.Or you could hire a mason to build one for you out of brick or stone.They’re held in place by aluminum corners coated with a tough, baked-on finish and are capped with western red cedar.HEIGHT: Low beds are less work to construct and fill, but require double digging to prep soil beneath the bed.High beds mean less digging and less stooping, but need more soil and building materials.How deep to make it?This organic matter helps retain water in sandy soil and improve drainage in clay soils.Choose Your Material: Wood.There’s more than one way to build a bed frame.Fitted together and held in place with dabs of construction adhesive, natural stone or look-alike cast-concrete blocks don’t need mortar or a footing, just a tamped crushed-stone base.Shown: 48-by-48-by-11-inch Raised Garden kit, $90; Vita.If you want an organic bed from the start, buy bagged soils and compost that are OMRI-Listed; they’ve been certified by the Organic Materials Review Institute.Hold them in place with netting so they don’t blow away.Do this 30 to 60 days before the first frost so the seeds have time to germinate.Shown: Fill the bed right to the top with soil; it will soon settle a few inches, leaving a lip to hold in the mulch.Design the Corners of Your Garden Bed.With prefab connectors, you can quickly build beds with your choice of wood or composite planks.Four Sided.This wood-plastic composite corner has grooves on all sides to join corners and side walls, and even to link up with other beds, no screws required.Shown: Stacking Bracket, $15; Frame It All.Hay (alfalfa or a grass) breaks down faster, enriching the soil; but avoid the fresh stuff used for animal feed—it contains weed seeds.Hay (alfalfa or a grass) breaks down faster, enriching the soil; but avoid the fresh stuff used for animal feed—it contains weed seeds.GRASS CLIPPINGS: They’re high in nitrogen and break down quickly, but apply them just 1 inch thick to prevent matting.SEAWEED: Rinsed of salt, this nutrient-rich material contains no weed seeds, acts as a natural fertilizer, and, once dry, stops slugs.Shown: Straw mulch keeps leaves and produce clean and dry.$49 for 100-foot kit; Dripdepot Drip line: The most efficient and longest-lasting irrigation option, it’s also the most expensive ($76 for 50-foot kit; Dripdepot).Quarter-inch lines are limited to 30-foot runs; ½-inch lines can go up to 200 feet.Quarter-inch lines are limited to 30-foot runs; ½-inch lines can go up to 200 feet.Leave the panels’ top edge exposed so roots can’t grow over it.Enclose your vegetable garden with a fence at least 3 feet tall and 3 feet from your beds.A slanted 8-wire fence, like that sold by Gallagher, is only 4 ½ feet high but 6 feet deep.A grid-style trellis attached to a raised bed provides the support that peas and beans need as they climb toward the sun.Mount the trellis on the bed’s north side, so it doesn’t shade the other plants, and leave enough space between the strings or wires—at least 5 inches—so you can reach in and harvest the ripe pods from the back side.Raised Garden Bed Inspiration.The 20-inch-high walls of this U-shaped, western red cedar kit-built bed put plants within easy reach.Shown: 8-by-8-foot Raised Garden-Bed Kit with Deer Fence, $1,849; Outdoor Living Today.Materials cost for a 4-by-12-foot bed similar to shown: about $375.You can stack the finished frames as high as you like.Shown: two of The Farmstead’s 24-by-72-by-8-inch raised garden bed kits, $100 each; Garden Raised Beds. .

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