Raised Bed Gardening: Perfect For City Living
I never really thought about a garden. I have seen people garden and I have thought about it, but never had the courage to jump on that bandwagon, that is until.. this year. I am getting older (yes I just admitted that out loud, publicly) and there are less things to do. We are more home bodies then we really have ever been. We enjoy being home. We enjoy doing things around our home. We also eat A LOT of produce. I make 2-3 trips a week, JUST to restock produce. I’ve finally started buying in bulk and freezing some, which has made it easier.
I decided with all that to mentioned to my husband I wanted a garden.
He looked at me and said “We live in the city and have 6 feet around each side of the house.”
While he is exaggerating some, one side is all a hill so it’s pretty useless for this and one side is the driveway and the area the kids play, there is about 10 feet in the back of the house. Legally we have to leave 2 feet between anything and the lot line, so that gave me about 8 feet to work with. We have a shed in the back that in 6ftx4ft. So I thought right next to that shed would be perfect. When I said I wanted a 4ftx8ft garden he looked at me with a puzzled look.
I then got the reply “What are you planting; Beans and peas?”
So I took the liberty of explaining a raised bed garden and pointing out the advantages of a raised bed garden to him. It took only a moment and he was on board and began looking to see if he had the supplies or if we needed to gather more supplies. Turns out it was all a very quick process. We had everything here other then the black dirt. Assembly started and within 30 minutes I had a raised bed garden. I was so excited for the process to start! I looked up the produce we eat and how easy/hard it was to grow. I also looked up other things that would fill in the empty spaces I had in my “garden sketch”. I was sure to detail every thing from when to start the seedlings in the nursery to the pH level for the soil to the sun/shade level of each plant.
What is a Raised Bed Garden?
A raised bed garden is a garden which is built up (mine is 6 inches high, others I know have done 4 inches high or used containers) with wood (or other materials) and 3 to 4 feet deep with soil. Since they are above ground and they reduce the need to use poor native soil, they reduce or eliminate the weeds and they can extend the planting season. There are a lot of different ways to do your raised bed garden, so please look things up and make a game plan before starting. It will save you a lot of trouble in the end.
Benefits of a Raised Bed Garden
There are a ton of benefits to having a raised bed garden versus a traditional garden. The biggest benefit for us is that with very little space, we can still have a garden that is going to grow and produce a lot of food for the very minimal space that it requires. But some of the other benefits are:
- Vegetable plants are spaced in geometric patterns or rows and can be much closer together then a traditional garden. Spacing is minimal and done so that when the vegetables are fully grown, their leaves just barely touch each other. This creates a microclimate in which weed growth is suppressed and moisture is conserved. This also means that yields go up.
- A big one for me is that waist high raised beds enable the elderly and physically disabled to grow vegetables without having to bend over to tend them.
- Bad dirt is eliminated because you fill your raised bed with a custom dirt and compost that you desire.
- Water use efficiency is maximized.
- Drainage is built into the bed walls, which hold the soil in place to reduce or eliminate erosion.
- Greater exposure to the sun warms the bed, which allows more plant diversity and extends your growing season.
- Since the gardener does not walk on the raised beds, the soil is not compacted and the roots have an easier time growing.
What Can I Plant in a Raised Bed Garden?
That answer is endless. You can really plant anything in your raised bed garden that you would plant in a traditional garden. Your possibilities are endless. Currently in my garden I have:
- Carrot – I think we lost these. No signs of sprouting.
- Spinach (LOTS of spinach)
- Sweet Peppers – Mixed Variety
- Sweet Banana Peppers
- Orange Peppers
- Green Peppers
It’s all growing very very well.. have a look!
We have a lot of stuff that is growing and a lot of stuff that is just breaking through. I started everything from seeds in a nursery bed in my kitchen. Since in Wisconsin we have a later start season, we thought it would be best to start earlier in the house. We did have two days that to got down to about 30 degrees so of course that frosted. I don’t think we lost anything. We covered it up. It seemed okay afterwards. We also didn’t put the little fence up and of course I hand fed a baby bunny (poor mother and the rest of the siblings were attacked by the neighbors dog and he was just barely born and our local humane shelter didn’t care) years ago and he lives under the shed. So he helped himself to the garden. It appears he may have dug up the carrot seeds, but didn’t touch anything else. I am not sure he even dug those up because the holes were not deep enough.
I am anxiously looking forward to the crops that we get from out little garden. It looks like things are growing pretty well. Those spaces you see in the middle that appear empty are some spinach (I added way more since we eat a lot of it) and sweet pepper seeds, which take 6-8 weeks to pop through. They are sprouting, they are just not through the dirt yet. We have about 12 ten pound bags of garden soil. We are working on making compost with a few things like grass clippings, fruit peels, etc. So that will be added and will help with growth throughout the growing season.
Do you garden? Do you have a traditional garden or did you plunge in and do a raised bed garden? Have you thought about a garden? Any special green thumb tips you’d like to share?