Raised beds are in

 Photo credit: Prescott eNews

Raised beds with trellis


 by Ken Lain, the Mountain Gardener


A raised bed is a bottomless frame set into a shallow trench. The sides can be made of almost any durable building material: rock, brick, concrete, and interlocking blocks. Retired watering troughs or claw foot bathtubs are the easiest raised beds, as long as they have the necessary capacity and drainage.

Mountain gardeners use raised beds to sidestep a long list of gardening challenges: Bad dirt is a non-issue, because you fill a raised bed with a customized soil-and-compost blend; drainage is built in and keeps erosion in check. Poor sun exposure isn’t a problem because beds can be positioned wherever light is more favorable. Plants can be spaced more closely together, so yields go up, water use efficiency is maximized, and weeds are crowded out of soil space. A really valuable asset is for gardeners who wage constant warfare against destructive burrowing animals; read on for specific building details that can keep raised bed gardens safe from these critters.

Location, Location, Location – Ideally, a north-to-south orientation takes full advantage of available sunlight. Avoid sites shaded by the house or under messy trees.

Planning & Building – At minimum build 3’ x 6’ beds. This size is wide enough to support sprawling tomatoes, but narrow enough to reach easily from both sides. The ideal height is 1 to 2 feet tall. Leave at least 18 inches between beds for walkways, or allow 2 ft if you want enough space to get through with a wheelbarrow or lawnmower. If possible, build more than one bed, which makes it easier to rotate crops and meet the watering needs of specific plants. Because the beds must be level, building on a flat spot avoids a lot of digging!

Read the full article: Prescott eNews

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.