Gardening with Deb: Raised garden beds: A versatile way to plant
August 5, 2015
Last week, a group of Master Gardeners and friends visited seven gardens in the Steamboat area, learning about the different ways local gardeners organize and maintain their flower and vegetable gardens. One common technique employed in many of these gardens was the use of raised beds.
In the beautiful garden at Barbara Walker’s home in downtown Steamboat, where space is at a premium, Walker's husband, Chip, built a terraced set of raised beds. It made great use of the slope in their side yard and was an attractive way to showcase their plants.
You can design the size and shape of your raised beds to suit the space available, to take advantage of or create a microclimate for certain plants you want to grow or to take advantage of certain features in your yard and garden area.
At the home of Matt and Sandy Graves, raised beds for a variety of vegetables are located right below the eaves of their roof line to capture rain running off the roof. What a smart and effortless way to water plants.
Some of the beds we saw were designed using old railroad ties, recycled old wood from one of the schools in town that was being renovated several years ago; another, at the home of Kathy and Dean Vogelaar, featured beautiful rocks that allowed Kathy to plant some pretty flowers in and among the stones and plant trees to help block road noise. At Barb and Bill Sanders home, aspen tree trunks from the extensive groves on their property were used to created a raised bed for Bill’s potatoes.
When you design a raised bed, try to keep the width at about three to four feet so you can easily reach in from either side to plant, weed, deadhead, harvest and generally maintain the garden. Be sure to leave a one-to-two-foot walkway between your beds so you can easily get to them without having to step onto the soil where plants are located. The beds can be any length.
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The height of most of the beds we viewed was around one to two feet, but you can create your raised bed a high as is comfortable for you, keeping in mind that the higher the bed, the more soil and soil amendments you’ll need to fill it.
Be sure to situate your raised bed on a surface that allows for good drainage. A flower or vegetable bed with water-logged soil or standing water is not going to allow plants the air circulation they need around their roots and could lead to rotting plants and other problems that arise when an area is too moist.
Several of the gardeners we visited used a combination of newspaper and wood chips layered with soil and compost to fill their beds. Most topped the soil with some type of mulch.
Another nice purpose of a raised bed can be to block your views of the road, neighboring yards or things like utility boxes, road signs, propane tanks, etc.
So you if want to save your back when tending to your garden or take advantage of the many features raised beds offer, consider building some for yourself this fall.
Deb Babcock is a Master Gardener through the CSU Extension Routt County. Questions? Call 879-0825 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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