Thursday, May 22, 2014

Planting in a Raised Bed

So you’ve decided that a raised bed is for you.  You’ve built it and filled it with good-quality soil and now you’re ready to plant your garden. Raised beds are great for the casual gardener wanting to grow a few vegetables, or someone like myself who is surrounded by sandy soil and has a passion for perennials. 
The nice thing about raised beds is the soil stays loose which makes it easy to plant seeds.  Your rarely need a shovel because the soil is not walked on and compacted, you can slide you hand through the loose dirt and make a furrow.  Or poke holes in the soil with your finger and drop a few seeds into each hole.
Vegetables can be spaced closer than in an “in the ground” garden because everything is contained.  Fertilizer, manure, and water are held into the limited area providing your plants with nutrients and sustenance to live.
You can plant in rows or broadcast seed over the surface of the bed.  This year, I added a small fence to which my peas can grow up it, or you can plant squash and cucumber at the edges and let the vines trail over the sides.  There really are no limits to growing in a raised bed, except for a large tree that needs an abundance of root space.
When it comes to maintaining a raised bed, watering is the most important task.  For the very reason that raised beds are popular in the spring—that they dry out very fast—can be their downfall on a hot summer day.  So make sure and water your beds—often.  If you don’t have the time to water frequently, install soaker hoses or some form of an automatic irrigation system. Then mulch.  Mulching slows evaporation and keeps the roots of your plants cool. 
Your Turn:  What plants have you grown in a raised bed?

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