Raised bed gardening – the only way to grow vegetables! This article is for the DIY who likes to make their own custom design gardens. These raised bed gardens are based on structural ideas which can be expanded and are only limited by imagination and space! These photos of a few interesting raised bed gardens are a precursor for my experimental polytunnel vegetable gardening this winter. Anyone who has tried to garden in northern BC will know that this is the only way to grow to get a head start on the growing season each spring.
Why Raised Bed Gardens?
Here are 12 reasons to used raised bed gardens:
- Over the years, several of our gardens have been built on heavy clay soil and by using a varied French Intensive preparation of our beds it allows the gardener to control the soil – a benefit for years to come
- Raised beds warm up quicker to help plants grow
- Raised beds should have very good drainage so the plant roots don’t sit in water
- It is a bonus if the sides of your beds are high enough to be able to sit on to plant, dig, weed – if needed
- Much easier to work in to mulch, compost and satisfying to plant one bed at a time
- It is easier to isolate diseases and pests in each bed – again, if needed
- Of course no need to walk on the beds and compact soil …
- Because rows are not required and vegetables can be planted closer together or “intensive crop production”, which means productivity is much higher
- Raised beds can be any size or shape, and height you like from 4 x 4 foot squares to 3 foot triangles to fit any space in your yard
- The minimum depth for all raised beds should be 12 to 18 inches, depending on what you intend to grow, but the deeper the better, as you will see from the photos
- Several of the examples were waist height – great for seniors, disabled or simply lay back gardeners
- The raised beds are very easy to convert to simple micro greenhouses to extend the growing season
- Multitude of materials can be used to make sides of raised beds ~ from rocks and bricks to recycled wood
- There are probably many more reasons I have not thought of . . .
Note: The owner specifically built these raised bed gardens (below) so he could sit and garden.
Have a look at these designs from “free” and “recycled” materials to top of the line. When speaking with the owners they all had merits for their respective system and of course theirs was “the best”. There are ready-made kits that look very easy to assemble so take your pick. You have all winter to make and prepare your beds and next spring you will be ready to grow! All the best! Have fun planning!
Happiness is … a family of chickadees also like my garden ~ Liz
“So many seeds — so little time” ~ Anon.
- Raised bed gardens are well suited to multi residential and strata homes so that people may have their own gardens
- Excellent for care homes as they are very easily maintained and flowers can give patients much joy
- In the 70’s way before raised beds were “in” we had many 4 feet x about 12 feet “box” beds made from felled spruce trees on our property. This was the most productive, and largest, vegetable garden we have ever had
- Many of the raised bed photos use wood but I have seen beds made from brick, rocks and even metal corrugated sheeting
- Reminder not to use preserved wood for your raised beds nor old railway ties with creosote
- Special note ~ over the years of using organic gardening methods with resulting healthy plants there has been minimal disease or pest problems
Links & References
- “Self-Sufficient Life” by John Seymour, DK Publishing, 2009
- “The Postage Stamp Garden Book” by Duane Newcomb, Houghton Mifflin, 1970
- French Intensive gardening has been around for a long time
- Arsenic, a human carcinogen, is used in production of preserved wood
- Creosote information and safety and handling precautions if used
PS: The raised bed in this photo, really impressed me for being environmentally friendly,100% recycled material, fun and free. The lady was given all the timber (1 x 2’s”) about four feet long which she simply lay on top of each other, crossing them over at the corners – without nails or rebar. She had two of these beds (about 26″ high) which were overflowing with vegetables and flowers!
While recently visiting Australia, this vegetable garden was a “winner”