Raised beds are a wonderful choice for vegetable gardening, providing an easy, effective alternative to growing in poor, rocky, or clay-heavy soil. After all, a raised garden bed is simply a planting area that sits on top of the ground. Think of it like a giant container garden.
When using raised beds for gardening, you create the growing space, choosing the size and depth of the bed, as well as the soil it contains. In this way, you can create an ideal growing environment for your plants, something that is especially valuable in areas in which insect pests and disease lurk in the native soil.
Raised beds can be quite simple to make. To create a 4 x 8 foot one, simply buy three 8-foot-long 2-inch x 12-inch boards, cut one in half, and attach the boards in a rectangular shape using 3.5-inch deck screws. The width of the bed should not be more than 3 or 4 feet, so that you can easily reach across the planting area without stepping into it. This helps prevent soil compaction, which affects how well plants grow. If you have issues with gophers, groundhogs, or voles, attach hardware cloth to the bottom of the bed to keep burrowing critters from tunneling up into the soil and raiding your vegetables.
Raised beds should be a minimum of 8 to 12 inches deep, to give roots plenty of room to spread and grow. (Deeper, taller beds mean less stooping over for you, too.) Regardless of size, fill raised garden beds with a 50-50 blend of Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil for Vegetables and Herbs and Miracle-Gro® Potting Mix, which will provide just the right environment for strong plant roots.
A month after planting, feed your plants with Miracle-Gro® Shake 'n Feed Tomato, Fruits & Vegetables Plant Food. It contains extra calcium to help veggies grow strong and avoid a disorder known as blossom end rot.
For more information about growing vegetables and gardening in raised beds, or about Miracle-Gro products that help you be a more successful gardener, click any of the links below.
-Written by Julie Martens Forney