Benefits of Raised Gardens Tips

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How does organic gardening benefit the environment?

Organic Gardening and the Environment

Everybody's doing something about the environment, but nobody talks about it. Actually, a raised bed garden speaks for itself. We all know our food supply needs help and that pollution is a problem. You can nail two problems with one stone...or timber, or rubber tire...when you build raised garden beds. The environmental advantages of raised bed gardening include:

  • Organic gardening compost to help raise healthy plants--sphagnum peat moss, organic manure, mushroom compost, leaves, grass clippings, rotted hay or straw--even leaves!
  • Plants that are sustainable in any type of soil, even heavy alkaline
  • Organic gardening that respects the seasons--if you've started your planting late, radishes, summer squash, lettuce, mustard greens, yellow wax beans, green beans, cucumbers and broccoli grow and ripen quickly. Roses are resistant to 100-degree summer heat, and raised garden beds make watering easier.
  • Design that can use whatever you have on hand as a frame.
  • Recycling! You don't have to bulldoze to have raised garden beds--all you might have to do is clear grass and topsoil. Your garden will say more about how you care for the environment than if you rant for an hour on NPR.

   
Does raised bed gardening allow more soil aeration?

Gotta Have Air

Remember your elementary science? Plants have to breathe. You have to breathe. Even soil has to breathe. Giving air to your clay or sand-based soil, or soil aeration, is vital to organic bardening. It helps the soil:

  • Be more moist but not too wet.
  • Hold water whatever the soil texture--grainy or sandy soils may not hold water as easily..
  • Stay temperate, not too hot or too cold.
  • Promote healthy bacteria growth--that's right, some bacteria assist plants.
  • Have a low bulk density, which means the soil has better physical condition.
  • Absorb organic gardening compost--just mix the compost with the soil.

One of the advantages of raised bed gardening is that you can aerate the soil more easily with raised beds or mounded soil. Raised garden beds limit the gardening area and make it easier to work with the soil. In addition, the height allows more air to permeate the garden. Congratulations--you still remember elementary science. Now if you could only reemember algebra.

   
Do raised garden beds make crop rotation easy?

Raised Garden Beds and Crop Rotation

Crop rotation only concerns farmers in Iowa or Guatemala, right? You can practice crop rotation though, in your own raised garden. Crop rotation = good organic gardening, and good organic gardening = raised garden bed. Simply put, you can alternate crops between root crops (potato, rhubarb), legumes (green beans) and heavy feeders (all the rest of the veggies). Easy turnover and easy changeover are one of the advantages of raised bed gardening--especially since you can sometimes change the shape of your custom raised garden. In a well defined space, managing plants is easy. Plus, you can build a new raised garden and plant crops in the middle of the season. For crop rotation you need:

  • Detailed plan of what you'll plant and when
  • Weather almanacs
  • Organic gardening compost to refresh the soil
  • Topsoil supply--if the original soil is healthy, you can reuse it
  • Cover crops that are tilled back into the soil (we suggest fava beans without the nice Chianti)

You don't have to move to a cornfield, go to market days in Provence, or carry a basket on you head to have a successful crop rotation--all you need are raised garden beds!

   
Will a raised bed garden save space?

Weed Eliminators

You'd love to garden but your lawn gets eaten every year by weeds and the ever-expanding garden border. Meanwhile, clutter dominates your house. The first step is to admit you have a problem. The next step: get a garden so you want to spend more time outdoors and less time with all that stuff! One of the myriad advantages of raised bed gardening is that you can easily grow vegetables by square foot. Planting by square foot allows for growing more in less space.

Gardening enthusiast Shirley Brenon, who writes a weekly gardening column for the Palm Springs, California newspaper THE DESERT SUN, encountered a Palm Desert, Caliifornia couple living on a golf course. The lawn kept getting invaded by "nut grass," a weed named because it grows in little nodules in the ground and multiples, above and below ground. The continuously sprouting nodules make gardening difficult--and, frankly, drive horticulturalists nuts.

The California couple with the nut grass problem built a wall and several raised bed gardens, in which the couple planted the flowers that were threatened by nut grass. Now that you've stopped the weed clutter, you can actually get that organic gardening fertilizer out of the jammed garden shed and clean up the yard...the trimmings and leaves will provide instant organic gardening compost. Raised garden beds make your lawn look better. Plus, once your lovely garden is set up, you can maintain it more efficiently, so you can finally tackle your filing system.

   
Are raised gardens good for families with kids?

Kid-Friendly Gardening

Your mom sent you to your room because you ran through her rhubarb. Now, your mom lives with you and she's yelling at your kids for running through the rutabagas. What do you do?

One of the advantages of raised bed gardening is that you can place raised garden beds or garden containers in high-traffic areas on your lawn, so kids don't squash the squash. You can lay out a raised bed from north to south to catch the sun, which works well if your kids like to zigzag north, south, east and west. You may have scattered the vegetables in various beds--it's all you have time for between work, your kids, your wife and your mom. But grouping the veggies and flowers together is perfect for the weekend warrior. You might even build a raised bed so your mom can enjoy organic gardening too. Your kids can even join in with less mess.

If your kids, your spouse and your mom complain about the manure you use for organic gardening compost in your flower beds, you can easily switch composts, since raised gardens are actually easier to fill and care for than conventional flower beds. Also, one of the advantages of raised bed gardening is that you keep out pests, which means your kids won't bring creepy-crawlies in the house for your mom (and you) to swat. You and your mom do agree on something after all! Now all you have to worry about is your kids and your mom bickering over who can grow the best chrysanthemums.

   
Is organic gardening good for flowers in raised beds?

Raised Flowerbeds and Organic Gardening

You know that organic gardening is great for fruits and veggies--while you're not feeding the world yet, you're feeding your extended family, which feels like the population of the world. But is organic gardening in raised garden beds good for flowers?

Intensive organic gardening, as it's popularly called among green thumbs, is one of the advantages of raised bed gardening. The bed shape of a raised garden increases the growing area for flowers as well as vegetables. Also, you can plant rows of foxgloves close together after you've added your organic gardening compost. Close placing of plants is a key element in intensive organic gardening as long as you don't overcrowd--with all your relatives at your house, you feel like you're overcrowding already!

Now that you're growing flowers in one of your raised garden beds, you can cultivate beautiful roses that respect the environment and the seasons. Plus, you can stop and smell the roses in between all that harvesting of veggies and fruits. The garden is a perfect escape from the crowd.

   
Isn't organic gardening difficult when you mix compost?

Mix It Up Organically

Composting sounds like a big pain. What you'll do for fresh vegetables and environmental consciousness...it's easier to just slap on some fertilizer and enjoy your garden. Or buy the overpriced organic products you're not convinced works anyway. As Jay Leno jokes, "How lazy and fat are we getting in this country?"

Don't worry--now that you've stirred yourself off the couch to make a raised garden out of orange crates, you'll find organic gardening easier. You made large raised garden beds, because you like to supersize. The problem, as Paul Avent explains, is that large gardens need more organic gardening--and no, you can't just slap it on top.

Fortunately, with a well-defined area, you can thoroughly mix organic gardening compost with the soil--that's one of the advantages of raised bed gardening. You don't have to lift a statue, prune a tree or move anything if you don't want to. Think of it as mixing cake batter in a huge bowl. After all, you actually like to cook--that microwave cooking never tasted right anyway. You're not lazy--you just want a simple solution. Ah, the laxy man's raised garden...genius.

   
Can I use raised garden beds on my roof or in my apartment?

Up on the Roof

Greenery sprouting from your college dorm or apartment roof...is it time to call the cops? Only if raised garden beds are against the rules in your dorm or apartment building. In addition to the early crops, soil health, and other varied advantages of raised bed gardening, the raised garden is portable for the iPod generation!

Organic gardening is totally tight with the college crowd. Grab your organic gardening compost (make sure your weird roommate doesn't mistake it for food) and plan a 4' x 4' raised bed garden for your balcony or roof. You can use that spare tire from your bike or order a custom raised garden kit. Don't forget to buy soil and use old plant cuttings, specimens from botany lab, wood shavings from the woodworking club, and so forth as organic gardening compost.

Raised garden beds are also great for condo complexes with shared lawns. But if you're not in a condo because you're working on that bachelor's or master's degree, transplantability is one of the other advantages of raised bed gardening. You can transplant veggies, fruits and flowers into larger raised beds or into the ground. Of course, by now you're in love with raised bed gardening...so is your weird roommate. You just don't want to know what he's growing.

   
Are raised beds ideal for organic gardening?

Raised Beds and Organic Gardening

While commercial plant companies may hawk fertilizer and other products that might harm the soil (and your plants if you use too much), organic gardening will usually promote soil aeration and healthy fertilization. This isn't just another anti-big industry rant--we're fond of Miracle-Gro and its spokesman, actor Peter Strauss, who likes organic compost material.

Strauss advises that if you have acid soil in your raised garden beds, you don't necessarily have a pollution problem. In fact, acid soil is great for organic gardening because acid soil is chock full of organic material. If you live in a heavy rainfall region such as Seattle, your raised bed gardens will get plenty of water, and the acid soil will be evenly saturated.

A raised bed garden makes placement easier and you don't necessarily have to bring in new soil. You can just add your organic gardening compost, and, as Strauss says, just let the decomposition process take place. Voila, your plants are nourished. And a few drops of Miracle-Gro won't hurt either.

   
Do raised garden beds help the elderly and disabled?

Accessible Gardens

They say that nature is brutal, but when was the last time you saw a rhododendron deliberately avoid someone in a wheelchair or someone over 65? Organic gardening compost is food for the soul.

Gardening can be a comfort, and a great form of therapy. One of the advantages of raised bed gardening is its accessibility. There's no squatting in the dirt. Raised garden beds are typically 12 to 30 inches off the ground, so amputees, paraplegics and quadriplegics can garden easily--the same for older people who have difficulty stooping and bending.

If you have mobility issues and you place hoses at accessible heights near the raised garden or use automatic sprinklers, your garden will thrive. You can also use hanging baskets and planting bags around a house or an assisted living facility in addition to organic gardening with raised beds or containers. When you get frustrated with people's attitudes, gardening is a great release...the flowers and vegetables will reqard you for your gentle care, and you'll stay healthy and active.

   
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Joe Wallace