Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

The Advantages of Raised-Bed Gardens

The following is an excerpt from Mortgage Free! Innovative Strategies for Debt-free Home Ownership, Second Edition by Rob Roy. It has been adapted for the Web.

French intensive or “biodynamic” gardening involves the use of several “raised beds” of about four feet in width—the maximum width allowing the gardener to reach the center from either side—and virtually any length, although eight to twelve feet is common. We once built a raised bed thirty-two feet long with occasional “crosswalks” to facilitate moving around the garden. Ideally the beds should have at least twelve inches of good soil to turn each year, although that varies somewhat with the crop. Beds can be either permanently framed with stone or wood, or shaped with a rake and a spade each season. We like the “permanent” beds, but we’ve also seen many excellent gardens of mounds reshaped each year at the time of turning. The advantages of raised beds are:

  1. Less land is needed. Intensive planting is possible because no space between rows is required, yielding much more produce per square foot of garden.
  2. Seeds or seedlings are spaced so that the young plants form a living “green mulch” over the bed, discouraging weeds and helping to retard moisture loss through evaporation.
  3. Gardening is three-dimensional: leafy vegetables are alternated with root vegetables so that both the surface and the subsurface spaces are productive.
  4. Each bed can be tuned to the proper pH factor (acidity vs. alkalinity) for the particular vegetables to be grown in that bed. Lettuce likes sweet soil, for example, while strawberries prefer acidic soil. Certain special mineral requirements can also be economically satisfied by concentrating them where needed.
  5. Much less watering is required because of the lack of runoff and reduction of evaporation. This advantage is greater with the permanently bordered raised beds, as opposed to the mounded method. In combination with drip-irrigation watering methods, the advantage is compounded.
  6. Much better use is made of mulch and compost with intensive gardening. Good soil is built up faster.
  7. No rotary tillage is needed. The beds are easily maintained with a spade, rake, and small hand tools. The raised beds are easier to work on because they are ten to twelve inches above the permanent walkways.
  8. Pest control is simplified because the growing area is contained and compact.
  9. Raised beds are aesthetically superior. They stay neat and tidy with the permanent walkways. Very little weeding is required.
  10. In combination with a built-on protective cover and the use of rigid foam insulation around the inside edge of the bed, growing seasons can be greatly extended. Jaki and I use a plastic sheet over a light bamboo frame to extend the season or to grow vegetables that require more heat, such as peppers.

Image courtesy Relocalize.net.


10 Books to Curl Up With This Winter

William Wordsworth was right when he said, “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.” Nevertheless, the cold, dark days of winter can still get the best of even Nature’s most tenderhearted admirer. What’s one to do? We here at Chelsea Green have concocted the perfect cabin fever remedy with our suggested winter reading […] Read More..

Draft Power: The Life-Affirming Alternative to “Big Ag”

Farmers young and old are seeking new ways to shrink their carbon footprint and promote more ecologically friendly ways of getting chores done. So, what’s a modern farmer to do? For some, the centuries old approach of using draft animals—especially horses—is offering a very 21st century solution. Read More..

Top 8 Chelsea Green Books the Self-Styled Oregon Militia Should Read

The ongoing armed militia occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is showing no signs of ending — so, rather than send them snacks, or sex toys, we had an idea: Send them a book! Better yet, send them several Chelsea Green books. Don’t worry, we’ve picked five key titles that we think […] Read More..

A Book for the Fruit Nerd on Your Holiday Gift List

Have a fruit enthusiast on your holiday shopping list this year? Then give the gift that Booklist calls, “a thorough investigation of one wonderful fruit”—The Book of Pears by Joan Morgan.Sure cherries, plums, peaches, and other fruits have their unique qualities, but nothing quite compares to the pear’s luscious texture, richness of taste, and fragrance reminiscent […] Read More..

Unlock the Secret to the Perfect Salad with Soil Sprouts

As the weather gets colder and seasonal produce only means root vegetables, we begin to dream about fresh greens and colorful salads. Without a greenhouse or expensive equipment, it’s hard to imagine a reality in which you can have fresh and local greens every day. Luckily, Peter Burke has a method: in his book Year-Round Indoor […] Read More..
Follow us
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By WPFruits.com