The raised bed culture began with the Chinese thousands of years ago. There had been few evolutions to the suburban backyard garden until raised beds were re-introduced in the eighties in the U.S. With all the varieties and options it’s a new and fun way of gardening.
Some raised beds have shelves below for your tools and watering can and others are very deep, from the ground up to the waist, for larger vegetable gardening. Some are just a few inches off the ground still with all the benefits that raised gardens bring. You can now garden on your patio, deck and in small areas where ground gardening wasn’t possible before. I have even put wheels on my cedar bed legs to move it in and out of the sun or wind on my deck.
If you are new to gardening there are raised beds for whatever you want to grow.
If you want to start with herbs or lettuce—there are shallow raised beds for that. Perhaps you want to grow beets and onions—there are deeper beds for that. And if you want to grow tomatoes and peppers there are trough planters—raised beds with a deeper center for deep rooted vegetables. The benefits are many for the vegetable gardener and I have even included a few for my cut flower garden as well. These days raised beds are reaching new heights. First imagined for wheelchair use, these higher beds have been a game changer for so many of us that have gardened throughout the years stooped over or on our knees.
Benefits of raised bed gardening:
- Garden anywhere! Raised beds have reimagined where we can garden. We are no longer restricted to a fixed spot in the yard. Think balcony, deck, patio… We can move our garden around and off the ground at our convenience.
- Extending the gardening season on both ends. Because the soil in a raised bed is above the surface of the ground it warms up quicker in the spring and offers an earlier start to our garden chores, staying 6-10 degrees warmer throughout the growing season.
- Nutrient rich. The greater depth of the soil in a raised bed garden maintains a larger concentration of nutrients and is a more economical use of fertilizers and amendments within the growing zone.
- Easier on your roots! In a flat-plane traditional garden there is foot and equipment traffic which can compact garden soil which is not the case in a raised bed that is elevated and away from paths and walkways.
- Save water. Raised beds also make watering better for the plant material, water can reach the roots with no run-off and drain better as well.
- Fewer pests. Because the plants are closer to eye level it’s easier to see insect damage and manage it quickly and it’s too high for rabbits to nibble vegetables.
Because there are many raised bed options to pick from, I have a variety to suit specific purposes. There are a couple of legged (off the ground) lightweight plastic ones on my deck where I keep my lettuce and herbs close to the kitchen and some deep, ground up, waist-high large beds for all my vegetable needs set on the ground near my compost. Raised beds come in plastic, wood and even a lightweight cement board that will last for years. One last benefit—also one of my favorites—is the neat appearance they bring to the property and how well they incorporate with shrub and perennial beds around them. A grouping of raised beds can be a mix of vegetables, herbs and flowers within your outside space and they always look attractive.
Look for raised bed supplies in Agway of Cape Cod stores or on our website here: Raised Garden Bed Products.
About the author: Priscilla Husband is the Garden Coach at Agway of Cape Cod. For years Priscilla has run her own garden consulting company, Mother Earth Landscape Consulting, helping countless Cape Cod homeowners make the best of their gardens and landscapes.