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16 Reasons to Garden in Raised Beds; 6 Reasons Not To

Candi JohnsMy garden is a rustic assembling of random materials erected into raised beds.

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It currently has over 20 beds. It is fenced in so the local wildlife don't eat all my veggies and I love it. The entire space (including paths) is around 50 feet by 50 feet. We have outgrown our current garden and have decided to expand our growing space.

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Raised beds are not for everyone. As we are planning, designing and getting ready to construct another raised garden for our homestead I have found myself pondering the whole project. Is it really worth it?

To tell you the truth, building a large, raised garden is quite an undertaking.

• You have to decide what you are going to build it with.
• You have to get all the materials.
• You have to get them to your home or homestead.
• You have to erect the dag-gum thing.
• You have to fill all those empty boxes with fabulous compost in the right formula so your plants will become superheros.
• You have to go get even more of whatever you filled the boxes with because you thought it would take 1 dump truck full; however, the truth is it's gonna take 3.
• You have to block the sunlight from your paths so they don't turn into jungles.
• Don't even mention the fence — Ugh.

I'm here to tell you — it's a lot.

We are lucky. We have the soil. We have the compost (thanks to the cows). We have the materials (thanks to all the old barns falling down around here).

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But someone still has to build the thing.

It's a good thing that I turn into Wonder Woman in spring — because we're gonna need her. If you've never heard me talk about my alter ego ... It's just that spring does something miraculous in me. I take on, attempt and accomplish things in spring that I would laugh at any other time of year. I have unheard of energy. I have wicked determinism. It's truly interesting. Spring turns me into a superhero.

As I have been calling all my favorite people looking for free wood, I've been thinking about this new garden and if it's worth what I'm about to go through.

My answer: Yes.

I decided to weigh the pros & cons on the entire thing. I'm sure there are some I have not thought of. Here's my short list of why I'm about to bust my butt to build more raised beds.

• Save Your Back (in the long run) by building higher beds
• Less Work — with raised beds you only maintain the beds themselves instead of a huge garden plot
• Easy to reach — most beds are constructed so that the gardener can easily work the entire bed
• Pathways — designated paths make working in the garden simple and clean. Rain or shine — you can get in your garden.
• Less Weeding — you only weed the beds
• Extends your growing season (soil warms up faster in raised beds in spring)
• Cleaner (you and your children won't be covered in dirt after working in a raised garden)
• Cool looking — They can be a beautiful, decorative feature to your yard or homestead
• You'll never have to till them
• Soil problems fixed — just fill the beds with the perfect growing soil
• Short on space?  Raised beds grow more food in less space
• No wasted compost — all your composted chicken manure & kitchen scraps will be used directly where you need it
• Higher yields from plants — intensive gardening practices used in raised beds can produce 4 to 10 times greater harvest
• More accessible — easy to get to, easy to work in makes gardening simpler
• Better drainage — better soil, less compaction = drainage
• More fun — Because raised beds are easier to maintain and less work they are usually seen as a "pleasant hobby" rather than a "dreaded chore"

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If you think it's too good to be true — you're probably right, most things are. Here's some reasons NOT to use raised beds:

• Work — erecting and building the beds is a lot of work
• Waste — materials, tools, etc for creating raised beds- you'll need to find it, buy it, use it
• Money — if you can't find free materials for your raised beds & paths, you'll be wasting spending money
• Time — it takes some time to build the beds & get them filled
• Hot weather — depending on how high your beds are raised, those beds may get really hot in the summer months and harm plants
• Watering — if your beds do not contain the right balance of compost, they could will require more watering

Whether you chose a conventional row garden or raised beds you can have a beautiful, bountiful garden. The choice is personal. Not everyone has the time, energy or resources to construct a raised garden. Lucky for me, in approximately 3 weeks I will be Wonder Woman.

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XO,

Wonder Woman (AKA - Candi)

sundug
3/17/2016 8:50:20 PM

My main problem with raised beds is the fact that I can only work them by hand-can't till, can't mow, can't bushog, so all weeding and cultivating has to be by hand. As I get older, I appreciate more the ability to till or disc instead of hand weed or hoe.


nebraskadave
2/25/2016 5:24:29 PM

Wonder Woman, old tired man here. I used to be the never tiring project worker but the years have slowed me down some. I still get fired up and do heavy work projects. My material of choice for raised beds is limestone rocks that are taken out of walls that are being replaced with fashionable retaining wall blocks. So a da of hauling rocks will certainly bring on some aches and pains the next day. I'm into the mature season of life but it doesn't mean I'm not in the game still. ***** Have a great super hero Spring gardening day.


carol
2/21/2016 3:39:17 PM

We have several raised beds and everything Candi says is true. They can be a bit expensive to build, but once built, you're done with that expense. The time and energy they save is well worth the expense. We put our red raspberries in a bed to contain them. Buried about 4" of a 2x12. It isn't perfect, but soooo much easier to control. We used pvc pipe bowed over the veggie beds - strapped on with conduit straps. Throwing a sheet over it when there was a threat of a late frost, or using screening to protect young seedlings extends the growing season and helps produce more food. Even if you are physically capable of crawling around on the ground to weed plants, handle a rototiller, and lug around other gardening tools, I would highly recommend raised bed gardening.