Now is the perfect time to start raised bed gardening. As spring sweeps in, you can enjoy planning, building, and growing a raised bed garden. Here are the basics you need to know for getting started.
Plan Before You Shop
One of the biggest mistakes gardeners make is shopping before you have a clear plan. You’ll end up buying things you don’t need and supplies that you can’t use.
Grab a measuring tape, some twine and sticks, and a notebook. Look at the space you have available, taking into account which areas get the most sunlight. Shady areas aren’t great for growing vegetables, so you’ll need plenty of light.
Take measurements, sketch out the number and shapes of beds that you’d like to build, and then stake them out with twine to see if you like the arrangement.
Once you’ve got a plan that you’re happy with, you’ll know how much material to buy. You can calculate the amount of soil and seeds needed, too.
Choose Your Plants Wisely
Many people bite off more than they can chew in their first garden. Think about the types of produce that you’ll eat, along with the plants that grow best in your hardiness zone.
One of the best ways to arrange plants is by cuisine. For example, you might plant tomatoes, basil and oregano, and onions together to create an Italian garden. Alternately, you could go with tomatoes, cilantro, tomatillos, bell peppers, and jalapeños for a salsa garden.
If you want to try something more advanced, you could research companion planting. These are plants that can enhance and protect each other. For example, beans and peas can add nitrogen to the soil, which will benefit other plants that share a bed with them.
Compost, Mulch and Water
Once you’ve started seedlings or sown your seeds directly, gardening is mostly a waiting game. While you wait for your plants to flourish, it’s a smart idea to start a compost heap if you don’t already have one. Compost is one of the best resources for your garden, and it’s literally made out of garbage!
Another aspect of gardening to master with raised beds is effective mulching. You can use straw or wood chips around mature plants to help control weeds and keep the soil moist. Mulching is one of those secrets that experienced gardeners learn, but it’s never too early to start.
Finally, you’ll have to find out through trial and error how much and how often to water your garden. The amount and frequency will depend on your microclimate. Remember that overwatering is worse than under-watering. It’s also smart to water early in the morning rather than late at night, since water can linger under leaves and cause rot.