Raised Beds for Gardening
Raised beds are a great way to get great soil, because you don’t have to incorporate anything into it – you already have your good soil built up. And they’re a great way to maximize your space. When you build the raised bed, you can add organic matter and compost, even though you’re using regular garden soil. By using the organic matter and compost to improve the soil, it also improves drainage by sitting above the rest of the soil profile.
If you build them four feet (or less) across, you can reach the center of the bed. So you can plant this whole area. In a flat garden, typically we make rows so that we can walk between the rows and then it uses a larger amount of space for the same amount of plants.
The other great thing is that because this sits above the rest of the soil profile, the drainage is improved. These are constructed really easily with cedar boards. Typically, they’re eight to twelve feet long to fit the dimensions of lumber. You may wish to reinforce the corners by adding a small block. They’re easy to put together – just build a frame, set it on the ground, and fill it with soil.
We’re grown lots of different vegetables in our raised bed. You can see we’ve also incorporated some flowers to make it pretty. In this bed over here, we’ve made a “salad basket”. We used a grapevine wreath to create a small basket inside the bed and planted lettuce in the spring. Now we have peppers in there for the summer. We also have sweet potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and just about any kind of vegetable that you can think of.
This feature story prepared with Jennifer Smith, Kansas State University Research and Extension Horticulture Agent, Douglas County. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.