Planting Considerations for Raised Garden Bed Gardening

Planting Considerations for Raised Garden Bed Gardening

What is a loft bed?

Raised beds are above-ground garden plots that can be made by piling soil into a bed six to eight inches high without side supports or purchasing or building a frame from wood, plastic board, or other materials. These beds are usually small enough that the gardener can walk outside the bed and tend all the plants without stepping into the garden bed. The ideal size for a raised bed is 3 to 4 feet wide and the length fits the available space. It is usually rectangular and usually 8 to 12 feet long. Depending on the type of plants grown, the bed may be a foot deep.

The History of the Loft Bed Using the Loft Bed

The practice dates back to the Middle Ages, when farmers used wattles (woven walls of limbs and branches) to enclose their gardens. In the 18th century, gardeners in Parisian markets grew vegetables on raised beds, using the then abundant horse manure as fertilizer. The concept became popular again in the early 1970s, when gardeners built raised beds with freestanding frames to encourage higher crop yields on smaller house plots. With healthy soil and proper care, raised beds can yield great harvests in small spaces.

To ensure healthy vegetable growing, you need to make sure that:

The site is good for growing vegetables. For example, if the site doesn't get enough sunlight, the plants won't thrive.

The soil is amended with organic matter and other nutrients, and with proper preparation, weeds are controlled. Poor soil can hinder seed germination, root growth, nutrient availability, and lead to poor plant health and reduced yields. Compacted soil can also inhibit plant growth.

Choose the correct seeds and plants for your plant hardiness zone and follow planting guidelines. Plant at the correct depth and spacing following the directions of the plants and seed packs. For Virginia, see the Home Garden Vegetable Guide for details. Some plants are not suitable for raised beds due to size or space requirements.

Proper and timely watering is necessary because raised beds dry out faster than ground gardens. A drip tube or soaker hose might be a good option. Always water the bottom of the plant to help prevent disease.

Mulching around plants helps control weeds and retain moisture.

When starting from seed, thin the seedlings according to the seed pack's instructions to prevent the plants from becoming leggy and weak.

The leaves should touch as they mature, but not overlap, or the plant may be crowded out or not getting enough sunlight.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of how to have a successful elevated vegetable garden and avoid repeating the mistakes of last year's failed vegetable garden. Maintain a garden log to keep track of successes and failures throughout the gardening season. You'll need this handy reference to keep experimenting next year. This is for a successful harvest for years to come!

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