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Feature Story: Why use raised garden beds?

Photo: Surburban Dollar on Flickr

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Earlier this month I reviewed Bunnings new ACQ treated pine raised garden beds. I now have four of these installed in my own backyard and they are working like an absolute treat. This article does raise the question though, why should you consider using raised garden beds in your garden, particularly if you want to grow vegetables? In this article I am going to share the top 5 reasons why I think you should consider using raised garden beds for your next vegetable gardening venture.

Reason 1 – Raised garden beds reduce the compaction of the soil.
Though it is true that plants needs good, solid, secure soil to grow in it is equally true that they need light, air filled soil to thrive. Raised garden beds, by nature, have soil that is much less compacted than general garden spaces. This is partially because when you build a raised garden bed, you have to fill it and this naturally reduces how compacted the soil is. It also remains less compacted because you have no need to walk in the garden bed, so the soil will maintain a level of looseness. This enables more air to be trapped and maintained in the soil, which plant roots need to survive.

Reason 2 – Raised garden beds are easier to use.
Raised garden beds are easier to use because the garden bed, being raised, is much closer to you. There is less need to bend down or squat. They are also easier to use, as long as they are designed well, because they bring order to your garden. Vegetables are generally planted in rows and raised garden beds are easiest built in rectangles and this natural order helps make raised garden beds easier to use.

Reason 3 – Raised garden beds utilise moisture more efficiently.
Plants need moisture to survive, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know this. Raised garden beds better utilise the water that is available. Light, fluffy, air filled soil is generally better at both absorbing large amounts of water but also at dissipating, or removing, excess water. As water seeps into the soil, soil that isn’t compacted absorbs what it can and then allows the rest of the water to sink deep down into the soil, which is basically what is known as drainage. Most plants need well draining soils to thrive and raised garden beds encourage this.

Reason 4 – Raised garden beds help plants to grow for longer.
Another thing about vegetables is that they generally prefer to grow in warm (note warm, not hot) soils. Raised garden beds tend to warm up quicker but also tend to not overheat. This, again, has a lot to do with the air in the soil. Because they tend to warm easier, it means the natural gardening seasons can be slightly extended each side because the soil will warm better than in normal garden beds. Raised garden beds better use the available sunlight.

Reason 5 – Providing organic matter and fertiliser is easier and more efficient.
With raised garden beds, your garden is very clearly defined. You also generally tend to use all the space in a raised garden bed. This means that all the organic matter that you add and all the fertiliser you provide go into growing healthy plants. When using a garden bed that is level with the surrounding area’s, nutrients from the organic matter and fertiliser that you add can leach away into surrounding area’s which don’t necessarily need nutrients.

Conclusion
If you are keen to grow vegetables I very strongly recommend you consider using raised garden beds. They say that an average, 4-5 person family could grow all the vegetables they need for a year with 6 1.5m2 beds. For most places this is probably more than you can fit, but most places could fit 2-3 of this size and even in 2-3 beds you can grow a lot of vegetables. Why not consider installing a raised garden bed or three soon? If you are interested, check out my review of Bunnings ACQ treated pine raised garden beds.

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