I was watching the history channel the other day on cable television and as luck would have it they were showing a program on the history of raised bed gardening. I was fascinated to see that gardening via raised bed methods dates back in some history books to ancient civilizations. Some cultures would raise up their gardens so the excess water would drain away from the roots of the plants which they found helped grow healthier plants. Sometimes, and even I am at fault for this, we think that methods we use today were invented or started by our generation when in fact they are just variations of methods developed a long time ago.
After seeing this program I wanted to get some ideas and methods that other vegetable gardeners use in their own raised bed vegetable gardens, so I asked around. One reply to my posting on our vegetable gardening fan page on Facebook was from a gentlemen by the name of Michael Phelps. No, I don’t believe he was the Olympic gold swimmer but hey you never know.
Mr. Phelps said he has been gardening via raised bed methods for over 2 decades and here are the tips he suggested to increase your harvest`s success.
Just like the ancient civilizations you want to make sure your raised beds allow for excess water run off. Just like pots have holes in the bottom to allow the water to exit, make sure your raised beds allow for the water to leave as well. Excess water around the roots of your plants will cause root rot and your plants will die.
Mr. Phelps recommended that your plants in the raised beds have adequate water for their needs. He said because they are raised, water has a tendency to run off more quickly thereby increasing the chances of soil drying out faster than normal. He recommended that the use of a moisture soil tester has helped him tremendously and they are available at your local home or garden center for just a few bucks.
Keep the Soil Loose With Compost
Composting is one of the best things you can do for your soil. It adds much needed nutrients and keeps the soil airy and light which allows for the soil to be more loose in turn giving the roots of your plants better chances to grow. There are all different methods for composting. Search our website and pick one that is right for you.
You can build a raised bed a number of ways, but Mr. Phelps recommends using composite decking because “it does not degrade”. Who can argue with him? When you build a raised bed as a structure as opposed to “mounding up” dirt, you want it to last for many years and if you can pick a material that is safe for your garden and does not breakdown, then that is a great way to go. Composite decking is more expensive than traditional pine or cedar wood for this very reason. However, you will find, that will be money well spent.
Maybe you never thought of gardening in a raised bed or maybe you never even heard of the art. After this information you have the tools necessary to give it a go and try raised bed vegetable gardening for yourself.
About the Author
Mike is the owner of Mike the Gardener Enterprises, LLC where you can sign up for their Seeds of the Month Club and receive 4 packs of vegetable, fruit and herb seeds every month.