Whether you're a rural resident with lots of open space or a suburban or urban type with a small patch of grass, you can enjoy the process and benefits of growing your own food in a raised garden. It's a great way to give yourself a piece of farmland, and with a little planning and a little more physical exertion, you can enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor. The following content also has some reference value for raised garden beds.
When planning your garden, take into account the accessibility of your house, transportation, water, sunlight, etc. Will you drive or cart your building materials, or carry them to your site by hand? What about water? Is your hose up, or are you dragging a bucket? A southerly orientation is great for plants that need a lot of sunlight. Planting next to the house not only makes it easier to keep an eye on their growth, but it also allows sunlight to reflect from the house into your garden.
Think about pests and how to prevent them. Consider netting for insect protection and fencing for deer and raccoons. Even dogs and cats can wreak havoc on your plants. Also consider a place close enough to the house so you can observe and enjoy the visual process, as well as to remind you when to harvest and plan your home dishes.
Be aware that once germinated, the roots may not be able to break through the original soil beneath the new layer of your bed. Tilling the soil before you put it in will help them continue to thrive.
Most building timbers are 2x in size, so we used 2 "x 8" timbers for our beds, with lengths of 4 and 8 feet. The resulting wall depth is a good standard depth for planting, and the 4-foot width allows you to reach the center of the bed comfortably from the sides. For the corners, we use welded steel brackets that you insert into both ends of your board. You can also use 4 x 4 posts.
When filling raised bed gardens, you should expect the soil to settle over time due to gravity and watering. In fact, in an 8-inch deep box, it could sink to 3 inches. Plan to fill it up, more than you think.
When it's time to plant, you can sow or start planting early, and these plants germinate indoors and get into the growing season early - especially helpful for plants like tomatoes and cucumbers in northern climates.
Planting seeds is also a time-honored method, and it's fairly simple. Remember that most seeds only need to be planted at a depth equal to the thickness of the seeds (check the package for specific instructions) and go back with a soil brush to cover them.
Another consideration for a bed is the placement of plants. Plant the tallest plants, like tomatoes, behind where the sun hits so they don't obscure smaller plants.
For plants that need support, start the process early so that the support is already there when the plant needs it, otherwise you will spend too much time convincing the plant to attach to it. In these images, you can barely see the trellis of the tomatoes, suggesting that the plants are making good use of the trellis.
You can certainly set up an automatic sprinkler or irrigation system, but we think there's something very satisfying about watering plants manually - it allows us to monitor each plant and personalise our water volume, and it's a time of meditation outdoors with your crop and your mind. (Note the thumb action on the sprinkler head in the photo - sure, but we also offer a variety of high quality and precise irrigation tools.)
Wherever you decide to put your beds, we think putting them somewhere where you can see them regularly will not only help you track their progress and monitor their care, but also keep them on your mind, whether it's caring for them or eating them. After all, what's the point of all your hard work if you can't taste the delicious results?
Our end result is raised bed gardening....
Raise the bed for final harvest