A raised bed vegetable garden has so many benefits and makes gardening so much easier!
We grow most of our organic vegetables in raised garden beds of some sort. We have several different versions depending on where on the property they are. Some of them are really low budget beds built from used pallets.
Others are built with concrete blocks or timber. We even used one-tonne bulk beds as a raised bed…works just fine!
Living in a wet climate like here in Ireland makes a raised bed vegetable garden a no-brainer! We often struggle with good drainage having a combination of heavy soils and high rainfalls. This can all be solved by raising the vegetable beds above the ground.
Raised beds can be built from a variety of materials depending on taste, budget and availability.
Timber: you can use all sorts of planks that are available in your area. Cedar wood is particularly durable. The disadvantage of timber is that it won’t last forever and might need treatment. I prefer though not to treat with toxic wood preservatives for growing organic vegetables. Use a non-toxic one like this for treating the timber.
Used scaffolding boards can sometimes be bought for reasonable money. They are thick and durable. Timber looks very natural and blends in well in any garden.
Raised beds made from planks are built easily and quickly. As long as you can handle a saw, hammer and measuring tape you are good to go. There are no special skills needed…
Concrete Blocks Or Bricks: Concrete blocks or bricks have the advantage of being maintenance free. They will also last forever so they don’t need to be replaced. We built beds out of concrete blocks laid on their side without the use of mortar. If you use smaller bricks you will need mortar and building them will be a little bit more difficult.
Build raised beds to make life easy on yourself! You should be able to
reach the middle of the beds with ease. An ideal width is about 120 cm
(approx. 4 ft) so you can comfortably reach the center of the bed from
both sides. Here are raised bed garden plans to give you some ideas.
The depth depends on several factors. If you want to make life easier on your back you need more height. I would suggest a minimum of 60 cm (2 ft). If you build your beds in an area where there is no soil underneath i.e. on concrete you also need a greater depth.
If you build your raised beds on existing soil about 20-30 cm (1 ft) should be enough height.
The length depends on your available space. Just keep in mind that you have to walk all the way around if your beds are very long. Leave a gap, at least, every five to six meters.
Spacing between the beds: you should be able to comfortably fit a wheelbarrow between your raised beds so I would recommend a minimum of 80 -100 cm between the beds.
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Seaweed is my favorite organic fertilizer, soil improver, and plant growth stimulant in the garden. I like to use it on nearly everything: from compost to planting to sowing!