If you have limited space to grow plants, have you considered a small raised bed planter
on your patio or porch? Raised beds are very productive, and make it easy to grow a collection of tasty herbs and veggies. They can change the whole feel of an area with a variety of beautiful ornamental flowers or fronds. Planters built at an appropriate level can also help reduce the aches and pains produced by kneeling or bending over a garden plot. This advantage makes raised beds perfect for gardeners with arthritis or impaired mobility.
Try thinking "inside the box". To get the most out of a limited area, you should start by carefully measuring and charting the garden area. Make sure to include areas such as patios and existing walkways; these will help define the length and width of planters you can use. Drafting paper and color pencils can help you visualize your design and you can easily distinguish landscape features such as turf, walkways, and trees with different colors.
Raised beds should be customized to the gardener, as well as the garden. The length is often determined by the available space, but the width should match your reach. Sit at a table youíd feel comfortable working at and reach out your hands until you begin to bend over slightly. Measure this distance and write it down. If you want to place your raised bed next to a building and work just from one side, use this measurement for the width. If you plan on making a freestanding bed where you can garden from all sides, double the measurement. Likewise, if you plan on working while standing, perform the measurement while standing.
Raised bed planters come in two different varieties - mobile and immobile. To decide which one is right for your space, observe your yard during a full day and during different seasons so that you can make note of areas of sun and shade
. If your available space has drastic changes in sunlight from spring to summer, then portable raised beds make it easy to keep plants in the right sun zone. On the other hand, if the light conditions are fairly constant, then permanent raised beds may be a better solution. Mobile raised bed planters can also come in handy if you plan to garden early or late in the season and have a garage that can be used to protect the plants against cold weather.
Pay attention to the surroundings when placing raised bed planters. A north-south orientation yields the maximum sunlight. Itís very important to have proper spacing between your beds so that you can walk and work around them. Make enough space between your beds to allow for a wheelbarrow, lawn mower, or whatever large equipment you may need to move around your garden.
You can buy raised bed planters and kits
or make your own. Cedar is one of the best woods to use, because it naturally repels some insects. If you use scrap wood, try to avoid wood that might leach harmful chemicals. Railroad ties need to be completely dry before using, and they can leak harmful creosote. Pressure-treated lumber is often treated with chemicals like as pentachlorophenol. Be safe, and check out this U.S. government site about the hazards of using treated wood in the garden
The soil in your raised bed planter is key. About 1/4 of the soil should come from your yard, with the rest made from equal parts sand and compost to form a nutrient loaded, quick-draining soil. After youíve blended these ingredients, check the pH
to make sure it isnít too acidic or alkaline. If you donít know much about soil or composting, we recommend visiting this on-line compost guide
. Looking for a terrific soil recipe for your raised bed garden? Try the Square Foot Gardening
To discourage pests from attacking your plants, you can add extra protection to both the top and the bottom of your raised beds. If youíve got an elevated raised bed
you can cover the bottom of the bed with chicken wire or a similar kind of material to stop rodents and other animals from eating your vegetables. Bird netting on top will protect against winged scavengers.
If disease strikes your raised bed garden, you can change out the soil and start over. Unlike in-ground gardening, there's no need to cycle crops to kill dormant pathogens. Raised beds are also easy to weed, and their comfortable height reduces back strain. Watering raised beds
is a snap - soaker hoses and drip irrigation are ideal. These systems will ensure that your plants get a good deep soaking and that the foliage stays dry.
Raised bed planters are low maintenance, but not maintenance free. If you remove nutrients by harvesting vegetables or flowers, then you'll need to add mild organic fertilizer
each spring. It's also important to keep an eye on the building materials. Woods like cedar are very sturdy and should be fine for many growing seasons. If youíve built your raised beds from concrete blocks or bricks, periodically check the mortar and make sure the structure is still sturdy.
Raised bed planters don't take up much space, but they can make a huge difference!