A raised vegetable garden bed is a wonderful idea for many different types of gardeners. Essentially, it is a container garden that is boxed off and raised to a specific height of the gardener's choice. This makes gardening easier for those with back problems, who may not be able to bend down to do basic gardening tasks or those in wheelchairs who cannot easily reach the ground. Having a raised bed also offers some inherent advantages, since raised gardens allow you to see your produce better and more quickly stop any weeds that may sprout up, although raised gardens are usually relatively immune to weeds.
A raised vegetable garden is created by first selecting a sunny, well-drained spot. The raised garden bed walls are then built from any number of materials, which can include but are not limited to stone, wood or plastic. The bottom can be lined with newspaper, plastic sheeting or mulch to discourage weed growth, or built over entirely with the material that was chosen to box in the plot. Each material has its own lifespan, as well as advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to consider whether this is a permanent installation or a one- or two-season attempt, and how much time can be devoted to it. Soil is then added to the box and the vegetables planted.
A raised vegetable garden bed is an easy way to keep the soil aerated because the soil tends to not compact as much as it would in a traditional garden. This allows the roots of the plants to spread out more, leading to nutrients and water more easily reaching the plants. Certain materials used to construct the beds may change the properties of the soil, such as cinder blocks, which will raise the PH level of soil over time, which can be advantageous depending on the plants being grown. While a raised vegetable garden can be a wonderful use of space and an efficient way of gardening, it does require a bit of planning.
A raised vegetable garden bed should be deep enough and wide enough to accommodate the number and types of crops that will be grown there. Raised beds for tomatoes, for example, need to be larger and deeper than those that are growing a crop like radishes. The space requirements for each vegetable can easily be found on the seed or plant packaging, and this should be considered carefully before building a raised vegetable garden. Another thing that should be taken into consideration when planning a raised garden is that some plants do well together, and even gain benefits from their proximity, while others do not. This information can easily be found online or in a basic gardening book at a local library, and care should be taken to try to make best use of the space by planting advantageous pairings together and keeping incompatible plants apart, even to the point of building more than one raised vegetable garden bed.
Soil in a raised garden should be selected carefully, as should fertilizer and mulch, depending upon the chosen crops. Garden soil for raised beds can be as simple as a basic potting mix with the appropriate fertilizer mixed in, although there are some varieties that are specifically for vegetables that contain specific pre-mixed nutrients. The amount of soil needed for raised garden beds depends upon the size of the garden, but if a person knows the square footage of the area, a garden store specialist can help calculate the soil needs. More potting soil can always be purchased if the gardener underestimates his needs, but under no circumstances should ground soil be used, as it can harbor bacteria and unseen weeds.