Why Raised Beds

raised flower bed

Raised beds, should they be for flower gardens or vegetable kitchen gardens continue to “rise” (excuse the pun) in popularity.

By definition raised beds are defined gardens that are above soil level.  They can easily be made with wood and the dimensions you use are up to you depending on your available space and your plan.  We used raised beds made from two untreated 2×6 boards stacked on each other (for a height of 12”) with the dimensions of 3’or 4’ wide by 8’ long.  Some people build them as high as 2’ or even 3’.  Really, the sky is the limit.

The benefit and success of raised beds is that they keep the soil warmer than in the flat ground.  Vegetables thrive in them, especially heat lovers like tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. Flower gardens are happy in raised beds as well and it’s not as low a reach for maintenance as ground level gardens.  The caution with raised beds is that they fail miserably as a haven for perennial gardens. For perennials to survive, they depend on the insulation of the ground around their roots to survive our chilly winter temperatures. In winter with the insulating cover of snow, at a depth of 12”, soil usually hovers around a maximum low temperature of -10C. But in a raised bed, it is as if roots are in an ice cube tray and their roots end up sustaining significantly colder temperatures.  That makes it difficult, if not impossible, for perennials to survive in raised beds.

As far a vegetable gardens go, the sky is the limit as to what you can grow in them.  You can grow successive crops of leaf vegetables like lettuce, spinach, and kale.  You can put fences up in them for snow peas or regular peas to climb.  You can place trellises or pergolas in them to grow and support cucumbers and tomatoes. Roots crops like carrots, parsnips, and beets love this environment as well. Raised beds can be mulched to control weed growth as well as increase the containment of moisture.

What a deal! Take your gardening to a higher level!