You may not be blessed with perfect soil, acres of open space, or the ability to kneel on the ground for hours-and-hours to enjoy your garden. In fact, here in northern California, most home gardeners contend with poorly draining clay soil, thanks to a high water table. Suburban gardeners in California mostly have postage-stamp sized yards, if any at all. We love our pets, but hate that they love our gardens. Dogs dig, rabbits munch, and cats, well… we know what cats do in dirt. If you want to dig-it, but can’t; if you yearn for space to let your cantaloupe and zucchini roam, but instead opt to plant only upright vegetables, be encouraged. RunWriteDig has your answer and it looks like this:
Stop fussing with poor soil. You just don’t have to. With a raised bed garden you get to play God. You are a soilologist, a dirtmeister, an earthtender. You control the ingredients, texture, chemistry and drainage of the soil. And as an added bonus, by raising your soil up off the cold ground, it warms faster allowing you to plant a little earlier in the season.
You can build your raised bed in virtually any configuration that suits your available space. In the picture above, the Kolbenschlag’s, of Stockton California, built a 2×8 raised bed and established it in a narrow, sunny space along the fence line in their backyard. They took their garden to new heights by building it on stilts tall enough to keep Cassie and Gracie, their German Shepard and Miniature Dachsund out of the dirt; also allowing storage beneath it. Because it is elevated and backed against a fence, the garden won’t contend with low, cold spots, wind and harsh micro-climates that in-ground gardens face.
No more bruised knees! Stiff necks! Sore backs! Build it tall enough to enjoy while standing, sitting, or from your wheelchair. Weeding and ridding your garden of pests is ordinarily no fun, mostly because of the awkward body position required to get at the little buggers. Raised beds are ergonomically friendly, making it a little easier to do the dirty work of daily maintenance. Even the harvest is easier.
Attractive 4×4 raised bed on saw horses (photo M. Kolbenschlag)
In future posts, we’ll take a closer look at how to build a raised bed garden. But here’s a preview for you, from one of my favorite magazines, Boys’ Life. The Kolbenschlag’s gained inspiration for their raised beds, from an article in the popular Boy Scouts of America magazine, titled Plant a Compact Vegetable Garden .
Editors Note: photo, courtesy Margaret Kolbenschlag