By Sarah Ransom
Ever found yourself tired of reaching all the way to the ground to pick your favorite vegetables?
Do those weeds seem to be just a little harder to get to than before? Do you want to grow your vegetables but find the land around you isn’t conducive to growing a healthy crop? The answer may be raised beds.
If you are considering raised beds, you will need to consider placement as most productive vegetable crops require 6-8 hours of sunlight per day, others may only need 4-6 hours. Observe potential sights throughout the day before making your final choice on where to place the raised bed. Having a nearby water source can be very helpful because it can enhance productivity and reduce the maintenance time required. The next thing you need to consider is the soil available, and you want easily workable soil. Be sure to get a soil sample if you are using topsoil, soil used during the development of that area or soil that is high in clay and rock. Previous uses of soil can harbor undesirable materials that would hinder your ability to grow a healthy crop.
Raised beds can be used for residential food production or flower crops. Raised gardens also allow the freedom to tailor the size to the need of the individuals using the garden. Children can get actively involved with raised bed gardening, even planting their own smaller pot or blocked off space. Raised beds can be constructed from a variety of sources – wood, stone, brick, block, recycled plastics, or composite materials. Be sure to check the quality of the materials; some have been treated with harmful chemicals.
For additional information on raised beds, building tips, planting your crops in raised beds and maintenance of beds, visit www.extension.tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/W346-E.pdf.