Raised Garden Beds
Raised garden beds utilize soil above ground level in some sort of enclosure or structure. Raised garden bed structures can be made of wood, rock, concrete or other materials, and can be of any size or shape. The soil is usually enriched with compost. Raised garden beds work well with square-foot gardening and companion planting.
Vegetables are grown in geometric patterns, much closer together than in conventional row gardening. The spacing is such that when the vegetables are fully grown, their leaves just barely touch each other, creating a microclimate in which weed growth is suppressed and moisture is conserved.
Raised beds lend themselves to the development of complex agriculture systems that utilize many of the principles and methods of permaculture. They can be used effectively to control erosion and recycle and conserve water and nutrients by building them along contour lines on slopes. This also makes more space available for intensive crop production. They can be created over large areas with the use of several commonly available tractor-drawn implements and efficiently maintained, planted and harvested using hand tools.
Benefits of Raised Garden Beds
Raised beds produce a variety of benefits: they extend the planting season, they can reduce weeds if designed and planted properly, and they reduce the need to use poor native soil. Since the gardener does not walk on the raised beds, the soil is not compacted and the roots have an easier time growing. Waist-high raised beds enable the elderly and physically disabled to grow vegetables without having to bend over to tend them.
Select Photos Courtesy of Kate Russell Photography