Things to Consider When Building a Raised Vegetable Garden
Home vegetable gardens are all the trend right now.
And while there are many advantages of growing your own vegetables, building a proper garden takes up a lot of space and can even become hard on the back.
This is why raised garden beds are the perfect alternative with many advantages.
Not only are they perfect if the original soil composition is poor, but the additional height means you won’t need to bend over to harvest the vegetables or tend to the weeds. Additionally, they take up very little space, can be built anywhere (even on concrete) and (obviously) growing your own produce allows you to save money on grocery shopping.
So, what’s the best way to design, create and build your raised veggie garden?
In today’s article we get into the specifics.
Choosing a location
While you can build a raised garden bed on pretty much any surface like pavers, grass or even pebbles, it’s still important to consider a few important factors when choosing the location for your garden.
Firstly, most herbs and vegetables require anywhere from six to eight hours of sunlight. So it’s best to choose a spot in your backyard that gets a healthy amount of direct sunlight. Mostly plants also prefer the morning sun, so if you have parts of your garden that get both morning and afternoon sun, it’s best to plant your raised garden bed in the area that get most of the morning light. Generally, this means that the garden will catch the afternoon shade and – in hotter climates such as Australian summers – this will give the garden a break from the harsh UV rays and help the vegetables grow better.
If your backyard does not get full day sun exposure, do not fear! You can still plant and enjoy a thriving veggie patch by planting select vegetables and herbs that can grow with limited sunlight. These include beetroot, carrots, chives, coriander, leek, mint, spinach and spring onion.
Once you’ve found the best sun spot for the garden, consider the general logistics of the raised bed: is it easy to access? Can you water it sufficiently and easily? Is it a safe spot so you don’t injure yourself or others? Is it far away from children and pets who might decide to turn it upside down and inside out?
When it comes to watering your vegetables, you need to do this regularly. Secondly, they grow best when the soil is consistently damp – neither completely soaked nor completely dry. This is why it’s important to choose a location for your raised garden bed where you can easily access a hose or close to a tap where you can fill a large watering can and leisurely water your veggies.
Additionally, make sure you plant your raised garden beds in such a way that allows for freedom of movement between and around them. There’s no point building a raised bed if you can’t manoeuvre around it to harvest your vegetables and maintain them properly. Best practice for this is to create a 2-foot walking lane between and around your garden beds. If you think you’re going to need bigger tools, like a wheelbarrow or cart, simply increase this 2-foot parameter to allow for the size of the tools. If you want to be super fancy and stylish, consider designing a path between the beds with Stone Stepping Stones.
Dirt, drainage and watering
A commonality with backyard ground cover is that some of the soil can will constitute as bad dirt. One of the advantages with raised garden beds is that you get to customise the soil and avoid this issue.
Even so, there are a few best practices with building your raised garden bed. For instance, the best soil is typically a mix of compost and soil. When mixing them, it’s important not to layer them. Instead combine the two thoroughly before placing into the garden bed. You can also save money by creating your own compost from fruit and vegetable peelings, tea leafs, coffee and egg shells and provide your soil with vital nutrients.
Once you’ve added the soil, you can plant your veggies. When doing this, ensure that you keep sufficient space between the veggies and the rim of the bed (about 10 centimetres is ideal). Otherwise, if you plant the vegetables too low in the bed, the rim of the bed will shade them, blocking them from receiving the much-needed sunlight.
Next, it’s imperative that your raised garden bed/s have adequate drainage to support the amount of watering you’ll be doing. Generally, drainage is built into the walls of the garden beds. This helps keep the soil in place.
While we touched on watering the veggies in the previous point, it’s also important to remember that some vegetables need more water than others. So when you’re organising where to plant them, combine them in such a way where those that need more watering are placed together and those that need less, are planted together. This works best if you have multiple garden beds. This way, there’s no risk of over – or under – watering certain vegetables so that they can yield you the best crop.
Choosing your material
Your raised vegetable garden is, by its intent and design, going to be protruding from the ground. So that it stands the test of time and is a safe space for growing your garden, it’s vital to build it using the right materials.
The most popular material for building raised gardens beds is timber and more specifically redwood or cedar. There are a few reasons most garden beds are made from timber. Firstly, its earthiness helps it blend well with the rest of the garden and secondly, it’s easy to work with. In saying this, be mindful when choosing the timber and ensure that it is rot-resistant. Additionally, since you will be exposing the timber to constant contact with soil and water, anticipate that it will last 10 years before requiring replacement.
On the other hand, if you want your raised garden bed to really stand the test of time, consider building it from natural stone. Natural stone is durable and will last for years and years. Other advantages of making your raised garden beds out of natural stone is that stone helps the soil warm up faster and stay warmer for longer. This not only extends the season of your vegetables but also creates a much better environment for them to grow. The disadvantages of building your raised garden beds from natural stone is that although they are appealing and attractive, natural stone is harder to work with and might require a professional to get it right. Also, stone typically requires more outright investment than timber. In the long-term, this may prove to be helpful as natural stone doesn’t deteriorate like timber does and doesn’t require to be replaced. However, if you are on a budget, it does require a higher outlay.
Doing the planting
Now that you’ve decided the location, built the raised garden beds and added the best quality soil, it’s time to plant your garden!
And there is a certain art to planting vegetables. For example, it’s important to space out your vegetables and only plant a small amount in any designated area. This way, you won’t be overwhelmed with a whole heap of vegetables sprouting in one go. From a logistical perspective, this gives your plants room to spread out over time if they need.
Another professional gardener’s trick of the trade is to plant the taller vegetables at the back. There’s nothing worse than a tall edible, such as silverbeet, being at the front of the planter box, casting a shadow over the other vegetables and preventing them from getting the much needed sunlight to grow and flourish.
Also remember that certain vegetables are seasonal. For example, capsicum grows best in summer whereas peas grow best in winter. So to get the best out of your raised garden, always check what you should be planting and when.
And there you have it!
The four simple things you need to consider when creating your own raised garden bed for your home and family.
If you need any help, or would like to chat with one of our natural stone experts to choose the best materials for your garden bed, reach out to us online or at 1300 560 560. At Armstone we stock the world’s best natural stones ranging from bluestone, limestone, granite, marble and more, and we would love to help you bring your raised garden bed to life.