I’ve only used a raised bed, once at my plot, but I’ve always thought them attractive which will satisfy my kitchen garden vanity. And the neat and tidiness will hopefully help with my new found veg growing OCD.
Of course, there are many other reasons for raised beds which many other gardeners appreciate. Here are a few that I reckon to deliver big positives for raised beds.
Got Heavy or Poor Soil?
Is your soil heavy or of poor quality? Raised beds allow the gardener to start afresh with a good quality growing matter. You can mix soil elements to your heart’s content, using anything from topsoil to seaweed and leaf mould, leaving that horrible clay as a thing of the past.
Lack of Mobility
Raised beds are better on the back and joints as there is less bending down. Waist-high raised beds help the elderly and handicapped to grow vegetables without having to bend over to tend them, and smooth, wide paths can be built in between to provide wheelchair access.
Meeting Specific Soil Requirements
If you’re looking to grow fruit or veg that is more demanding than most, or maybe just doesn’t like stony soil, you can install a raised bed to fit the crop. A good example of this is blueberries, which require acidic soil to thrive.
Experimenting is great for veg growers! I’ve been reading Charles Dowding’s book on no-dig gardening, in which he uses raised beds to demonstrate his approach to building soil structure without the use of a spade. No digging? Reduced weeds? Sign me up!
The soil in raised beds drains better than your normal, in the ground stuff, so warms up faster in spring. This means that you sow seeds earlier than you might otherwise, extending the growing season.
Raised Bed Cons
Of course, there are cons to raised beds which I’ve considered whilst formulating my plan. One of the main drawbacks is the price – if you can’t find things for free, good timber, such as sleepers or scaffold boards, and topsoil is expensive to buy.
Because they drain so well, raised beds may also require more watering which can make leaving them tricky when you go off on your summer holiday.
I’m keen to find out if the pros outweigh the cons with raised beds, and will be starting my new project this weekend. My mum and dad are moving to a place with a smaller garden, so I’ve pillaged 50 odd feet of sleepers to get me going. Exciting times, and I’ll be reporting back to evaluate how I’ve found raised beds compared to more conventional methods I’ve always used.