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Thinking About Switching to Raised Bed Gardening?

by: Aisling Fields, Auburn University

Many at home gardeners are switching to raised garden beds. These raised beds allow for gardening almost anywhere without the hassle of challenges like poor native soil and limited spacing. Raised bed gardening is highly manageable for urban settings, making it a great choice for people without an agriculture background.

“Raised garden beds are a fantastic and appealing option, allowing people to garden who have never gardened before,” said Bethany O’Rear, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System home grounds, gardens and home pests regional agent.

Soil Is Essential For Success

Soil in a raised bed tends to warm up faster in the spring, allowing for a prolonged growing season. In fact, under the right growing conditions, vegetables in a raised bed begin to grow as much as two weeks earlier than in a traditional garden.

Instead of planting in native soils, planting in a raised bed allows gardeners to better control the quality of the soil. Having high quality soil is even proven to increase yields. When selecting soil, make sure to not use any native soil that could be rocky or high in clay, as these tend to drain poorly.

“Soil that drains well is essential for gardening success,” O’Rear said.

It is better to add in a combination of mediums such as ground pine bark, compost and purchased topsoil. There are also different types of commercial mixes available.

Fit Them To Your Needs

With most raised beds being 4-by-8 feet, the limited space creates a look that is not so overwhelming for home gardeners. You can put them almost anywhere! Raised garden beds are also attractive to look at. They can be made of anything from traditional lumber to decorative bricks or stones. With the possibility of being highly formal or informal, they create a uniform look that can complete any yard, porch or patio.

“There are so many different types of raised garden beds,” O’Rear said. “That’s what makes them ideal for so many people.”