Raised Beds

Three Reasons I’m Using Raised Beds for Growing Vegetables

Back in 2013, I decided to experiment with raised beds in my garden. I’ve never tried growing veg in this way before, but I’ve always admired a nicely presented raised bed.

So, after deciding to start a patch from scratch in the back garden, I seemed to have a perfect opportunity.

Two years on and I’m a raised bed convert. I love mine to bits and can’t imagine not having them – here are three reasons why.

I love the look of raised beds. Pretty much every kitchen garden I’ve ever been wowed by has been based around raised beds and pathways.

My patch at home is essentially an extension of the garden, so it has to be visually pleasing as well as functional. On my allotments, how the plot looked wasn’t necessarily number one priority, but now I’ve incorporated patches into my garden, I can’t really get away with anything that’s not appealing to the eye.

I’ve used a mixture of old sleepers and scaffold boards to form my raised beds, and I’m chuffed with how they look. I’m also happy with the woodchip paths around the beds. I’ve used a membrane underneath and scattered the chippings over the top, which kept the paths weed-free.

Neat and Orderly
The first year that I grew in the garden, I turned the whole of the veg growing area over to soil and grew without a plan or any order. Whilst the plants were seedlings, everything looked very presentable, but as soon as they grew to a productive size, everything merged into one and the area became a jungle.

My raised beds have taught me to be more careful with the spacing, and everything is now neat and ordered. This makes daily jobs like weeding, thinning out, and harvesting much easier.

In fact, everything seems much easier using raised beds. My back is thankful that I don’t have to lean down so far and I can reach all around without standing on the soil. I can see the base of the plants when I water too, so I can now make sure the water goes where it needs to!

Soil Control
Another ace thing about using raised beds is the chance to have some control over what type of organic matter and soil goes into them. If you build your own raised beds, you’re effectively deciding what type of soil to use from the start, and how to improve it. If your allotment or garden soil is clay, you can build a bed on top, and fill it with something else that’s better for growing.

I used some topsoil from a neighbour’s garden after they’d had a driveway laid. The soil wasn’t perfect, but it was free, so I used leaf mould, some cheap bags of multi-purpose compost, seaweed, and my own kitchen compost to improve the growing conditions.

I’ve even found that the clay that made up some of the original topsoils have proven useful. Clay retains moisture which really helps as raised beds do dry out quicker than conventional beds. Even during recent dry weeks, I’ve dug a spade and found some dampness.

6 thoughts on “Three Reasons I’m Using Raised Beds for Growing Vegetables”

  1. Do you find that raised beds dry out quicker than non-raised beds? I’ve read that this is a downside and I think that mine definitely do, but I reckon this has proved as much of an advantage in wetter weather as it has been a disadvantage in drier weather.

    1. I have a combination of raised and non-raised beds on my plot. The raised beds definitely dry out quicker but not by a great amount. The soil tends to warm up quicker in the raised beds which I’ve found to be really useful for planting things out earlier and improving germination.

  2. I like raised beds for all the reasons you mention, but there are also downsides. Slugs love hiding between the soil and the wooden sides, the wood in mine is now beginning to rot, so either I’ll have to replace it or have lower beds which I’ve opted for in some instances. And they do dry out much quicker which again has it good and bad sides. So I’ll keep the ones I have, but don’t think I’ll be making new ones, but concentrate on improving the soil the Charles Dowding way, which also works fine if a bit slower.

  3. I’m using raised beds for the first time this year and love them. It certainly encourages you to space your plants more (I still need work on this) and somehow makes weeding much easier.

  4. I agree with all three of your reasons, pretty much why I use them. I use Link-a-Bords rather than wood. Wood is definitely more attractive, but requires maintenance, unlike the plastic link-a-bords, and there can be an issue with woodlice and slugs.

    To answer Matt’s question, whilst that can be a slight problem, in general if your raised beds are drying out, you need to be adding more compost and particularly manure and leafmold to help enrich the soil and create a better environment for moisture retention. I’ve added a lot of this in the last year to my beds, and though sometimes they look dry on the top, you only need to dig down a short way to find the nice moist soil 🙂

  5. I’m a big fan of raised beds too, for pretty much the same reasons you’ve listed. I also find damage from slugs and snails is limited if you use sharp gravel for the paths, but of course this can work out to be expensive. Great post and your garden is beautiful.

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