What are the ben­e­fits of raised bed gar­den­ing?

Cecil Whig - - JUMPSTART - By APRILE HAR­RIS

Spe­cial to the Whig

For those of you who ei­ther think it’s too much work to keep a gar­den or that you don’t have the space to grow your own veg­eta­bles, I have quite a so­lu­tion for you: raised bed gar­den­ing.

Raised bed gar­den­ing calls for soil to be ar­ranged in a 3- to 4-foot wide row, which can be of any length or size. The soil is then raised from about 6 inches to, some­times, waist-high. It is con­tained us­ing a frame, which can be made out of wood, stones, con­crete blocks, bricks, or even logs — and it makes for less work, since you can more eas­ily amend the soil in your raised bed to de­crease those pesky weeds. Ad­di­tion­ally, it of­fers bet­ter drainage, pro­tec­tion from pests and eas­ier ac­cess to your plants (you don’t have to bend down quite as far).

Raised beds are a good choice for be­gin­ner gar­den­ers or those with dis­abil­i­ties, be­cause they make tend­ing to a gar­den more man­age­able. Ex­pe­ri­enced gar­den­ers, like my­self, love them, too. In fact, raised beds re­main my fa­vorite way to gar­den.

They’re an es­pe­cially great choice for small yards. You can plan your beds to grow just one or two veg­eta­bles — like toma­toes and basil, for in­stance — or put a va­ri­ety of plants in one 4-by-4-foot square.

Once you have your raised beds in place, sur­round them with mulch, grass clip­pings, straw, stones or bricks to make clean, weed-free walk­ways be­tween them. Since raised beds are so com­pact, the use of

space and wa­ter is more ef­fi­cient, and you can ex­tend your grow­ing sea­son, since the smaller raised beds warm up more quickly than the ground soil.

Fur­ther­more, you can eas­ily con­vert a raised bed into a cold frame dur­ing the cooler months, al­low­ing for a later harvest. Raised beds are neat, tidy and aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing, and can in this way be­come the fo­cal point of your yard.

So for all the gar­den­ers out there, both be­gin­ners and sea­soned, con­sider raised bed gar­den­ing. You won’t be dis­ap­pointed.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF WI­KI­COM­MONS

Raised bed gar­den­ing of­fers help­ful solutions to prob­lems both be­gin­ner and ex­pert gar­den­ers face, in­clud­ing weed main­te­nance and tem­per­a­ture con­trol.

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