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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

12 Benefits of Using a Raised Bed: Part 2 of 2

12 Benefits of Using a Raised Bed: Part 2 of 2
By Gary Pilarchik LCSW-C

Easier to tend and manage:
You can raise a bed up to two feet or even higher. This requires less bending. Once the soil is prepared little work is needed to maintain it. Since you don't step in it, the soil stays loose and workable all year round. It is also easier to reach in and tend to your plants and pick your garden produce. Make sure the garden box is only 4 feet in width. Your arms have a 2 foot reach. This way you can reach all parts of the raised bed. You could also raise the bed up to your waste if needed. This can help gardeners with knee and back issues.

Earlier start and later finish:
You can start gardening earlier because raised bed gardens warm more quickly in the season when compared to a flat earth garden. You can garden later into the season because raised bed gardens stay warmer as Fall arrives. This allows you to have more fun and more vegetables. This reason in itself is a great reason.

Saves time and money and they look great:
Your cost over time diminishes. It costs money to build the raised beds initially but you save money over time by only concentrating resources to where the vegetables are actually going to be grown. You save yourself time by only working the area that will actually grow vegetables. They look good and really help create an organized garden. Less mud too. You can mulch between raised beds for a clean working area and you will never have to step onto muddy garden soil.

Create a cold frame:
You can add a glass, plastic, or a plexiglas cover to a raised bed. You simply build up the frame by a foot or more above the soil in the raised bed. You now have growing space for greens, radishes and other cold tolerant vegetables. The frame cover produces solar heat during the day and keeps the cold out during the night. More growing season is always welcomed. You can use the cold frame in the beginning and at the end of the seasons.

Helps you manage crop rotation and planting:
Crop rotations can get confusing if you follow them to perfection. Raised bed gardens can be numbered and easily tracked and managed for crop rotation. They can be easily set up for pesticide use or organic use of weed, disease, and insect control. The raised beds can be broken down into square units for organizing your entire planting routine. Because there are typically 4 x 8 feet, you can grid out what you want to grow.

Solarizing and disease management:
Solarizing is the process of heating soil for a period of time to kill weeds, disease, and pests. This process is easily done with raised beds. You can create several 4x8 foot plastic sheets and set them on the bed for solarization. You also have 2 foot paths between beds this creates a diseas and insect barrier. If needed during emergency management times, you can destroy plants in one or two raised beds to prevent spread of disease and insects. Hopefully, you won't need to use this benefit.

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