This is the year to start planting and growing your own food. Raised bed gardening has tons of benefits including a comparatively higher yields in less space than conventional gardening (this is due to the added work put in with soil management and plant care). Since the soil gets warmer earlier, the plants can be placed closer together, that with the added benefit of creating your own soil mixture it can result in higher yields.
Below are 4 things to consider while planning your raised bed garden that you may not have thought of.
What you plan on growing
When planning your garden location it is important to consider all of the plants you intend on growing. Some plants need more light or shade than others. A wildflower bed for example can be located in a drier location than say a vegetable garden. Other examples would be vine gardens need a fence or trellis to climb, or a cactus/succulent garden could be located in a dry, sunny location that is not easily accessible by a watering hose.
Starting with a list of the plants you intend on growing will give you a little clearer picture of where potential locations could be. This list will become important at a later stages in the process as well when determining the depth the garden bed needs to be. Each type of plant will require a different depth of bed, anywhere from 6″ to your desire (as long as you have the dirt to fill it).
How much space you have
If you only have a patio at your apartment building, sorry to say you may be stuck with a bit smaller container than say someone with a larger front or back yard, If you crowd yourself with too large of containers there will be no room to complete any of the daily garden care for your beds. For instance if you have to do any weeding but cannot reach one side of your bed it takes away from the convenience of not having to stretch across your entire garden.
Using the information you gather from the plants you could potentially plant you can plan out how big your garden bed needs to be, if you want to plant 4 tomato plants in a 4′ x 4′ bed you would divide the bed into 4 and plant in the center of each section. Planning it out in this stage will assist with preventing any overcrowding that may occur later on when things start to grow larger. Overcrowding can result in less yield, the plants in this situation are fighting each other for water and air circulation.
Another thing to consider is space for the bed itself. That is one of the joys of raised bed/container gardening your growing sections can be as small or as big as you want. Get started with a small pot and grow your own peppers or create a perma-culture front yard and only have to buy non-native produce.
What is your planting area like
What are you working with? Does your yard turn into a swamp land when it starts raining/Does your house get pelted by a hot south wind in the summer time/Do you have rodents/vermin that live close by. These are all questions you’ll want to ask to get to the answer to What is your planting area like.
When planning it is important to realize if there are any swampy areas or shady areas that will hinder your plants growth in the coming months. However, if you have these sections as well as good growing spots it opens up a wide variety of garden types you can choose from. From flower, food, or ornamental types the world is your oyster if you have the right micro climates in the same location.
Consider how the areas change with the season, those trees that are bare right now will be covered in leaves in month or so just as your plants germinate, making it more difficult for them to get the proper amount of sunlight. Is there a harsh wind on one side of your house, while plants need a breeze any extremely windy conditions can cause damage.
What is the purpose or goal of your garden
While planning your garden knowing how long you plan on having it around can help make some decisions. If you plan on planting a perennial garden you will want to place it in a location that it can be easily accessible for maintenance but also near a relaxing spot so it can be enjoyed.
A few other garden purposes are food gardens, formal flower gardens, and wildflower gardens. While two of those are extremely gorgeous to look at, the food garden can help fill your pantry with very minimal work.
Keep your head up spring is just around the corner
With just these four questions you can ask yourself 100s more. Plan your garden and plan to grow things. I am excited for this planting season not only for what I have planned but also for what I have to adapt to. With spring around the corner get a jump on any seeds you might need by heading over to True Leaf Market. They have a huge selection of seeds as well as gardening equipment.
Expand your knowledge
If you are looking for a few books to get started learning more on raised bed gardening, I highly recommend these three.
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