Of course, you don’t need a raised bed to grow great-tasting produce—most any plot of flat ground that gets full sun will suffice for that. But gardening in a raised bed offers a number of advantages. For one thing, there’s less bending over, so it’s easier on your back. Build the sides high enough and you can even garden while sitting. Raised beds also allow you to start fresh with enriched, uncontaminated soil-; on sloped property, they offer level, easy-to-tend planting areas. And because these beds warm up faster in the spring than those at ground level, you get a head start on the growing season.
But all those advantages won’t help if you neglect the soil, and according to sustainable-living expert Greg Seaman, that’s the mistake most beginners make. Seaman, who shares his gardening know-how online at Eartheasy.com, has been growing vegetables in raised beds for nearly 40 years. “When the soil is rich in organic matter and nutrients, plants are more robust and virtually take care of themselves,” he says. “There’s less weeding, less watering, and fewer pests.”
Here we provide practical advice about the types of frame materials and mulches to use, ways to enhance soil fertility, and the various options for irrigating. Plus, we offer strategies for deterring insects (and other invaders). In short, we show you all you need to know to get started as a raised-bed gardener.
Shown: To make optimal use of the space in these raised beds, use tall teepee trellises to provide sturdy supports for pole beans.