If you are making an effort to reduce your carbon footprint and lead a more sustainable life, try growing your own garden this summer. Organic raised bed gardens are a great choice for a beginner, and chock-full of awesome benefits.
Why a Raised Bed Garden?
One great feature of raised bed gardens is the control you have over the soil. If the condition of your soil where you live is less than ideal for growing a garden—no problem. You can adjust the mix you fill your garden with so that it’s dense with organic matter and full of nutrients that will support a good yield. Since it is raised, the soil in your garden will warm up quicker than ground soil. This allows you to plant your garden sooner—which means a longer growing season and more delicious produce for you! Having the soil elevated and contained within the walls of the garden protects it from eroding or washing away. The walls of the garden also help keep pests out of your goods. The taller the walls, the less chance there is for rabbits and moles to invade. Raised beds are also easily accessible, so they reduce back strain while working in your garden.
Prepping the Ground
Before you build the structure for your garden, you will need to prepare the ground below it to make sure it’s able to support the growth of your plants. When deciding on where your garden will go, make sure it is an area that receives at least 6 hours of sun during the day. Once you find the perfect spot, you will want to till an area the size and shape of your garden. Breaking up the soil will allow for better drainage and give space for roots to grow deep.
Building the Frame
There are endless ways to create the box for your raised bed garden. It could be as simple as framing it out with cinder blocks or landscaping stones, or you can construct one out of logs or scrap lumber. Better Homes and Gardens has a great, step-by-step tutorial on how to build a frame out of wood. You can customize the size and height of your frame to meet your needs. The higher the walls of your frame, the more soil you will need to fill it, but it will be easier and less straining to access. Make sure you are able to reach all areas of your garden without having to stand in it, which would compact the soil.
Filling Your Box
An ideal mixture for raised bed gardens is 50% topsoil and 50% added organic matter. Compost is a great way to increase the organic content of your garden soil. The nutrient-rich matter will help your soil retain water while facilitating sufficient drainage as well. Fill your garden no more than two weeks prior to planting so you don’t risk the nutrients being washed away by rain.
Planting Your Garden
Now that the structure for your raised bed garden is built and the soil is ready, it’s time to plant! If you’re new to gardening, The Vegetable Garden provides a great tool for figuring out exactly when, where, and how to plant your seeds based on where you live.
Labeling Your Garden
It’s a good idea to make labels for your garden to keep track of what you planted and where you planted it. Here is an easy and inexpensive way to make plant markers out of milk jugs.
Do you have any tips for growing a successful, organic raised bed garden? Please share–we’d love to hear them! Happy gardening!