Raised vegetable beds in the garden – how and why.

Summer, Vegetables

February 21, 2011

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One of the new raised beds in the vegetable garden

I have just this weekend completed another stage in my garden by edging two beds I built last year.  Our block of land is on a slope and in order to get a level planting surface raised beds are necessary, effectively as a form of terracing.  The edging of the beds created semi-raised beds (see photo).

I am a fan of edging vegetable beds for a number of reasons.  Firstly it makes an effective barrier to weeds/grass entering the bed, particularly if you have invasive grass species in your lawn like cooch or kikuyu.  Once these get into a bed they can be difficult to eradicate, and prevention is better than cure.

Raised garden beds also provide easy access, particularly for those who find it difficult to bend.  My beds are a little low for this to be a benefit but I that was one of my aims I would add another row of sleepers for height.

Those will heavy soils will also find raised vegetable beds to be of benefit.  Nobody likes to stand with their feet in water, and vegies are no exception.  One downside of this increased drainage though that I have found is in summer the drainage can be too fierce.  I have lined the walls of several of my other raised beds with plastic to reduce the passage of water out of the bed through the sides.

In addition vegies ideally need 40 cm depth of soil to grow well.  If you have heavy soil digging to this depth can be backbreaking work.  Raising the garden bed up a sleeper depth enables you to add soil/compost/manure and avoid the heavy slog of deep digging.

Contaminated soils are also a good reason to have the higher style of garden bed.  This lifts the vegies up above the contamination giving you safer food.

Lastly I like raised beds because they give the garden a certain aesthetic beauty.  Their semiformal nature gives a structure to the vegetable garden that is often lacking.  But perhaps that is just my virgo love of order!

To make my raised gardens I prefer to use red-gum or mixed species sleepers (not treated pine!) and just bolt them together using galvanised coach screws.  On the pictured bed I also used some bricks I had lying around on the base as the drop was too big to use one sleeper and not quite enough to justify two.  If you were using two rows of sleepers you would need to find a way to join the two layers together so the top one won’t slip off the bottom one.

So do you use raised beds in your garden?  What have been your reasons and have they been a success?  Let me know by posting a comment below.

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One Response to “Raised vegetable beds in the garden – how and why.”

  1. I loved reading this article I will be sure to tell my friends about this and link to it as well. Thanks

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