Raised Garden Maintenance Tips

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Watering raised gardens

Raised gardens require less intense watering than beds in which small plants could face competition than long-established trees or shrubs, but regular deep watering is still important.


Mulching raised gardens

Simply because raised beds are raised, they can be harder on the back to mulch. Buckwheat hulls, while more expensive than wood mulch or leaf mold, are a great option: They’re very light and easy to spread, they’re decorative, and add nutrients to the soil as they rot down. As with any mulch, keep the hulls from touching the base of the plants themselves, and don’t mulch too deeply. Two inches is adequate, four inches is too much.

Should I use plastic mulch to maintain my raised bed?

Paper or Plastic?

You always answer "plastic" when at the market, and you think that plastic mulch is a lot better for the maintenance of raised beds. Many a raised bed gardening tip advises covering raised beds with plastic mulch, since one roll per raised beds will usually suffice. Plastic mulch is great for raised bed gardening where you've built on top of grass and weeds may penetrate.

On the other hand, if you have a roof raised garden bed, you may still need plastic mulch. Your raised bed gardening technique will benefit most from plastic mulch if you spread the mulch over the soil at the beginning of each planting season. This allows plants to mature faster so you can harvest more efficiently. No matter what type of mulch you use, mulch protects roots and keeps plants cool and moist in the summer.

Just be sure that your plastic doesn't leak, and buy new plastic mulch periodically--posioning crops is the opposite of good gardening technique. If you're thinking of using your billions of plastic bags for cover, maybe it's time to switch to paper.

How do I prevent too much acidity in my raised bed?

No Acid Trip

Acid. Acid rain is bad. Folic acid is good. Acid trips...those are so 1960s. Acid soil? Forget it. Actually, most plants need acidity to some degree. Proper gardening technique will help you work with acid or alkaline soils, especially if you've used your existing topsoil for raised bed gardening.

While most soil is either 6.0 or 7.0 pH or the median between acid and alkaline, certain areas of the country, such as the South, have more alkaline soils. Most of the plants in your raised garden bed will probably need more pH--in this case, a higher number means less acid.

Here's a raised bed gardening tip, not a trip: While you're maintaining your garden, add more limestone in powdered form to lower the acidity if you grow clematis, and sulfur to increase the acidity and lower the pH if you grow heather. Raised bed gardening gives you more control over your soil. You usually need to add extra lime for alkaline soils every year, since raised beds don't percolate water.

Water percolation gives your garden a shot of lime. So to sum up, acid trips can be a good raised bed gardening technique, but if you did too much acid in the 1960s, you'll be happier if your garden goes cold turkey, man.


Mulching raised gardens

Simply because raised beds are raised, they can be harder on the back to mulch. Buckwheat hulls, while more expensive than wood mulch or leaf mold, are a great option: They're very light and easy to spread, they're decorative, and add nutrients to the soil as they rot down. As with any mulch, keep the hulls from touching the base of the plants themselves, and don't mulch too deeply. Two inches is adequate, four inches is too much.

Should I use cover cloth to protect raised beds?

Cover Cloth Maintains Raised Beds

Drape your raised garden bed in cloth? Certainly! You're a sewing and fashion maven--silk cloth? Linen? Cotton?

Here's a fashion raised bed gardening tip: Cloth mesh works better than designer cloth in raised bed gardening. Clothes aren't just decorative--they keep out the pests (except for that guy in the bar last week). Many gardeners use the raised bed gardening technique of placing bird mesh around the narrow bed. Suspend the bird mesh on flexible conduit frames, especially around your tomato plants.

While raised beds are an effective gardening technique to control temperature, especially in rows of leafy crops, you can use cheesecloth if you want to maximize the heat. Plastic cloche greenhouses are another attractive option.

You can start plants under plastic covers and never have to transplant them--they'll grow to full maturity! Besides, you'll look a little nutty or "green" if you drape your raised bed in gabardine.

Should I plant cover plants to maintain my garden?

Cover Me

Cover-ups generally take a bad rap, but take a raised bed gardening tip from us, cover plants are an excellent gardening technique. Unlike, say, hiding your true account books, covering up your herbaceous plants with cover plants helps you maintain your raised garden bed easily. You can plant ground cover plants at the start of each planting season or when you notice that your plants need some extra cooling or sun.

Plant phlox, verbenia, thyme (great for herb gardens), mondo grass, and climbing hydrangeas. You may want to increase the sun exposure (mondo grass is great), especially during the weeks of frost--this is a good raised bed gardening technique in beds aligned from east to west.

On the other hand, if you're not afraid of frosty receptions and need to cool your quickly maturing plants, plant creeping evergreen in your raised bed gardening endeavors. Creeping evergreen with its red berries is a year-round attractive ground cover plant that provides shade. If you have plants in several different temperatures and a mix of shade and sun-loving plants, ground cover foliage will balance out any differences in climate.

Your plants may cover up nicely, but if you notice your boss shredding the books, you may want to yank the cover-up out by the roots.

Should I buy a self-watering raised garden bed?

Self-Watering Raised Garden Bed

Self-cleaning ovens, self-cleaning cat litter boxes--we expect everything to be automated. Sometimes this is beneficial. Sometimes it isn't--ever tried reaching a real person when you have a query about your banking? As if a raised garden bed wasn't simple enough to maintain, some companies now manufacture self-watering raised garden beds as a way of eliminating the watering guesswork from your raised bed gardening technique.

You already use time-release fertilizer to streamline your raised bed gardening. Shouldn't you buy a self-watering raised garden bed? While we wouldn't vehemently warn you against automated gardening technique, especially if you have several raised beds, here's a raised bed gardening tip: Automation works best if you use similar families of plants with similar water requirements.

Some plants will require weekly watering, others need a daily dose of H2O. Also, the soil in raised gardens dries quickly because of the increased heat factor. Still, one of the advantages of raised bed gardens is the protection against overwatering. Just be sure to check the water gauge so that your water supply doesn't vanish.

You have automation with your raised bed gardens. And while you still like to talk to a customer service rep, you've discovered that you enjoy paying your bills online. Time to get out and play in your gardens!

Should I get my soil tested periodically?

Soil Test Anxiety

Remember the SATs? Remember yearly exams? They weren't institutionalized torture, they were a way to measure your progress. Testing your soil in a raised bed garden has the same purpose.

If soils are always rich, well-drained and well-composted with good raised bed gardening technique, why test soils in raised bed gardening? After all, you have a more controlled environment.

School was a controlled environment too and yet you aced all your tests while the girl in front of you, the one voted Most Likely to Succeed, failed because of examination stress.

Here's a raised bed gardening tip or two for soil testing:

  • Periodically squeeze your soil in a ball--if it forms easily, but crumbles, you have healthy soil.
  • Have your local gardening center test the soil at the beginning of each growing season--you'll determine the acidity of the soil as well as the nutrient level.
  • Check for earthworms--although raised gardens, especially tiered ones, usually are free from pests, earthworms help improve the aeration of the soil and represent healthy, friable black matter.

Your soil test may determine you need more organic matter in the soil--hot raised bed gardening tip: use leaves and roots from the end of the planting season. But you won't know where you are until you have a soil test. After all, you did get into the college of your dreams thanks to doing all those practice SATs.

How do I water my raised bed garden?

Water, Water Everywhere

"Mom, can I have some water?" That's the stallign tactic at bedtime. your plants will tell you with yellowed leaves when they need water, especially if you have a raised garden bed.

Raised gardens are easier to maintain, but here's a hot raised bed gardening tip: Your attractive beds need more irrigation--the plus: they don't waste water. Raised bed gardening doesn't require the normal gardening technique flooding with the hose. Shirley Brenon, gardening enthusiast and writer of a weekly gardening column for the Palm Springs, California newspaper THE DESERT SUN, says that if you have a large raised bed, you should install an irrigation system right when you're building the bed for raised bed gardening.

Build a PVC hose and spigot inside the bed. An effective raised bed gardening technique is to install a drip irrigation system on a timer. Brenon likes drip irrigation because it delivers water right to the plants. She never uses overhead watering, which is wastefu, especially in hot, dry climates, and causes weeds.

Keep up the watering since raised beds do dry out faster. After all, your four-year-old actually does drink that water she so sweetly asks for.

How do I protect raised beds against city pollution?

Pollution and Raised Beds

Think urban pollution can't affect you because you have a rooftop raised garden bed? The brown in the air may soon brown your celery and horseradish plants. Sadly, even though the EPA encourages raised beds in cities to combat global warming, industrial pollution affects us all.

Here are our raised bed gardening technique ideas and a raised ged gardening tip or two to help youre plants stay pollution-free:

  • Cover crops are an excellent gardening technique to filter out pollution and promote soil health.
  • Soil tests are essential to raised bed gardening, especially in cities.
  • Ever consier that gardening technique might contribute to pollution? Use organic and natural fertilizer as well as compost.
  • Use a HEPA air filter indoors and prevent any pollutants from the street from reaching your garden.

You may not be able to move into a pollution-free paradise, but you can keep your plants thriving.

How do I maintain raised beds in auto tires?

Is Your Garden Tire-d Out?

Kicking the tires and burning rubber...you're a city dweller maintaining a raised bed garden and you planted heat-loving peppers in your spare tire. Planting in tires is a great raised bed gardening technique, according to "Farmer Fred" Hoffman, seen on HGTV's "Gardening By The Yard."

The natural heat of the tires is perfect for squash and peppers, which grow best in a warm spring season. If your rooftops tend to be chilly, the sun you do attract will be magnified. Since raised bed gardening is a way to maximize sun, you can feel free to use materials that will heat quickly.

The only drawback to this gardening technique: Tires overheat quickly and you can't install an irrigation system the way you can with a wooden or stone raised garden bed. For raised bed gardening with a radial, you need to water your plants daily, especially during hot down summer in the city. However, the small space of the tire makes even this raosed bed garden maintenance easy.

Using your leftover tires helps the environment...although the neighborhood kids won't thank you when they want to hold a tire derby.


Watering raised gardens

Raised gardens require less intense watering than beds in which small plants could face competition than long-established trees or shrubs, but regular deep watering is still important.

Do I need a tiller to maintain my raised bed?

Tilling the Soil? Don't

Raised beds are maintenance-free. Right, you think, and I won't pay any APR for a year when I buy a new vehicle. Actually, the beauty of a raised bed gardening technique is that a raised garden bed requires little maintenance. Regular watering--check. Succession planting--check. Organic composting every season--check. Tilling the soil? While some raised bed gardening aficionadoes use a rototiller, our raised bed gardening tip is that a rototiller isn't necessary.

The soil will be fluffy and aerated as well as nutrient-rich if you follow the composting gardening technique. Most gardeners can get away with a spade and trowel, especially for a 4" x 4" garden. For deeper gardens, however, a rototiller might help maintain soil aeration and composition.

While your garden grows, you can finally check out that car financing deal. You're in the market for a new Durango and you have saved money on your food bill with the veggies and fruits you grew in your raised bed garden.

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Guru Spotlight
Linda Handiak