We love gardening, and are fortunate enough to be able to raise about 75% of our own produce each year. That’s accounting for all the produce we freeze, can and dehydrate as well as eat fresh. We use a combination of containers, raised beds and “conventional” ground gardens to accomplish this.
Is digging down into the soil of your backyard really worth it? What about all that time stooping, bending, and walking through dirt rows to reach your vegetables? How do you keep from sinking into the ground when it’s full of mud after a hard rain?
Maybe it’s time to consider using raised garden beds.
Why We Use Raised Garden Beds
It’s easier to keep down the weeds in raised garden beds.
We place cardboard and the paper from our chicken feed bags under the bed boxes to keep grass and weeds to a minimum. It’s much easier to weed when there isn’t any, right? Plus, the bags are made of paper so they get composted down. The only drawback is that we have to do that each year, since the bags don’t last after a season. Cardboard also composts down and we can go almost 2 years before we have to replace them. We figure out when it’s time when the weeding becomes more work and make a note in our garden book for that bed.
Raised garden beds are easier on the back and knees.
Not having to garden on your knees is a total plus. I am not able to kneel down for any period of time, let alone an extended period of time, so having the beds higher up makes it so much easier on my knees and back. I don’t have to bend and stoop to plant or harvest nearly as much or as long.
Raised garden beds can give you the ability to plant more vegetables in a smaller area. We have 15 raised garden beds currently, and each one has a designated veggie that is planted in it. So, we are able to plant a wider variety of veggies. For example, there is a pea area, green bean area, okra bed, kale bed and so forth. We can still plant our 50 tomato plants, but there isn’t any overrun into the carrots when we use the beds.
Raised garden beds can make companion planting easier. Companion planting is the art of putting veggies that like each other close together, and those that don’t far away. Having raised beds makes that easier to do in the little space we have. So, our basil can go intermingled with the bell peppers, and our potato bin is far enough away from our Swiss chard.
Raised garden beds can be a variety of sizes to suit your needs.
Ours range from 4×8 to 2×8 and even 1×16. We wanted different sizes for different plantings. The tomatoes go into the 2×8, the peas into the 1×16, and the 4×8 raised garden beds grow the green beans, the broccoli and more. They were made in less than 15 minutes each, and each cost around $10 to build. They are not treated wood, as we didn’t want the chemicals to possibly leach into the soil or vegetables.
There can be drawbacks with raised garden beds. Mowing around them is a pain. This can be corrected by placing gravel between the beds, or pushing them close together. Do you use raised beds? What’s your experience been like? Be sure to pin this for later!
Heather’s homesteading journey started in 2006, with baby steps: first, she got a few raised beds, some chickens, and rabbits. Over the years, she amassed a wealth of homesteading knowledge, knowledge that you can find in the articles of this blog.