Raised beds are a great way to make the most out of your vegetable garden. Here are the top advantages…
1. No digging
Because the soil does’t get walked on it doesn’t get compacted. Instead of a lot of serious digging a light turning over of the soil is sufficient.
2. Closer planting
Access is from the side of the bed, so there’s no need to leave space for walking between rows.
3. Suppressed weed growth
A knock-on effect from closer planting is that as plants mature the leaves block out the sun, suppressing weed growth.
4. Moisture conservation
Another bonus of closer planting is that moisture is conserved, as there is less bare soil.
5. Extended growing season
This is because the soil in raised beds tends to stay warmer.
6. Good soil and compost can be imported from the start
This is a big advantage if the soil in your garden is poor. More compost can be added easily at any time – just sprinkle on the surface and lightly fork in or let the worms do it for you.
7. Better drainage
Because of the quality of the soil and the absence of compaction. No claggy mud.
8. Easier for the elderly, disabled or those with back problems
Two-foot high sides provide the perfect height for wheelchair or mobility-scooter access. This height is easier for bending and reaching, so it’s better for the back.
9. Easy to fit fleece covering and hoops for nets and cloches
10. Easy to use the square-foot gardening system
Dividing the available space into 12″ squares (or other standard measurements) makes it easier to plan and organise the plot, in order to get the most out of it all year round.
Materials for raised beds
You can build raised beds with all sorts of materials and make all sorts of shapes. They don’t have to be wooden squares, although that’s an easy and inexpensive way to start. Here are some other ideas:
- Plastic squares that slot together
- Natural materials like willow, hazel and dogwood
- Concrete blocks
Old railway sleepers used to be a popular choice for making raised beds, but the creosote they were treated with was found to be toxic. Choose your materials carefully – don’t use anything that can contaminate your food.
Got any tips or questions of your own about raised beds for vegetable gardening? Leave us a comment below, we’d love to hear from you.