As we have spoken already about the benefits and advantages of raised bed gardening and the solutions that these present to us, compared to the old open system that we were using in the past, here are a few great ideas that will enable us to get the best returns from our recently constructed raised bed frames. Remember that the whole purpose of raised beds is to make life easier for ourselves in the gardening scene, perhaps to enhance the appearance our backyard or backgarden or maybe just to experiment with this system and see how easy and simple it is to use this system.
Testing the soil;
This is a task that we should do regardless of whether we are just a novice or if we are experienced gardeners, as this test will show and tell us exactly what our soil is lacking or whether we need to add some extra nourishment or not. It will also give us the pH readings and will tell us about the acidity levels in our raised beds. The acidity levels are basically a test to see the lime content and what nutrients are lacking in our beds. We can alter this mix ratio by adding compost, peat moss and some extra organic fertiliser such as bone meal, fish meal etc etc. This will ensure that we have a good structure base for starters and that the soil mix will have all the mineral content required for our crops. Some plants and crops will thrive in low acidity level soil, but others will not do well at all, so it is important that we establish all the facts. A soil testing kit is available online or at all garden centres and is not expensive.
Lime hating plants;
If we are planting say..flowers or shrubs only, then the soil base need not be of a very high content quality as most of these will grow in ordinary type soil. However if we are planting some Ericacueos shrubs that don’t like lime in the soil, such as Azaleas, Rhodendrons, Camillias, Pieris (Flame of the forest ), Heathers or Japanese maples, our soil needs to have a low pH reading for these to grow and flourish. There is a special ericaceous compost available at all good gardening stores to assist us with this issue. A special iron of magnesium liquid feed will also supplement these plants very well and will compensate for the variations of our soil quality. Another plant that does not like lime in the soil is ‘Blueberry’ and will not thrive in the wrong envoirnment. A good tip is to read planting instructions always and this will start us off in the right footing for a successful outcome.
Raided bed depths;
What depth should a raised bed be is a question that is often asked and the simple answer is, always give ourselves enough room to cater for all types and varieties. Basically give ourselves a minimum depth of at least 12″ as this will be sufficient for most types of vegetables, herbs or flowers. Previously we spoke about preparing the soil in a raised bed and if we recall, I wrote about double digging of our raised beds. This means that before we construct the raised bed initially we mentioned that the soil immediately within the raised bed frame had to be dug to a depth of 8-10″ , we then place our bed frame in place, infill with the quality prepared soil and this would result in well prepared conditions for successful raised bed outcome. Our soil depth within the bed frame is approx 10-12″ , added to the earlier preparation of the soil will be sufficient for all types of crops and vegetables.
Preventing moisture loss;
This is a problem that varies from country to country,from climate to climate and from the different soil varieties that exist. Depending on where we locate and situate our raised beds, a good idea always is to place these as near as we can to a watering source. If we do this we have a short draw for watering and irrigation purposes and this will save time and energy. The installation of a drip feed irrigation system will eliminate all of these concerns and is the ultimate solution for these issues. Once our plants are established, we can begin to cover the beds with a 2-4″ layer of bark mulch or coconut mulch which will not only prevent the beds from drying-out completely but this will help prevent the problem of slugs attacking our vegetables. As the mulch is invariably of a rough texture, the slugs find it difficult to travel across this type of terrain and as a result is a great deterrent for another otherwise unwanted headache.
Preventing unwanted pests;
Picture the scene, a glorious summers day, your raised bed garden is flourishing and thriving and the next thing you see are white butterflies landing on your crops and vegetables. As attractive and beautiful as these creatures appear, they are not a gardeners friend and can lead to the total destruction of all our good work if we do not take precautions. They lay their eggs and all of a sudden, carnage. One of these butterflies is commonly known as ‘ The Cabbage White Butterfly ‘… believe it or not. There are a number of solutions to this problem, we need to take action that will eliminate this pest, before any visible damage is done to our raised bed gardens. First off, make an easily constructed frame of wooden lathes that will support a fine mesh netting, which is placed over the whole frame of our raised bed and this is the most commonly used of solutions. This mesh netting is available at all garden centre outlets, and is relatively cheep to buy.
The netting will allow the rain, light and air to penetrate through to our crops and plants. The other alternative is to plant some highly scented herbal plants like mint, sage, and onions amongst the crops and the strong smells will deter all types of butterflies from our raised beds. Planting some ordinary marigold flowers is another recognised deterrent for this problem also. If you have any questions or queries feel drop a line below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Happy gardening to all,
” A garden is a grand teacher,
It teaches patience and careful watchfulness,
It teaches industry and thrift,
Above all it teaches entire trust.
— Gertrude Jekyll “