Pros and Cons of Raised Beds

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Contributing Writer
Joanne Tanner

When it comes to planting your annuals and vegetables, it’s been a tough season to get going with these cold nights; a good reason to wait beyond the recommended May 15th planting date. Even waiting until Memorial Day seemed iffy. I am very excited to get started since I bought a raised garden bed 48” wide x 96” long x 12” deep. The boards are of a recycled plastic composite.
Why a raised bed verses planting in the ground? What are the benefits of growing your vegetables or flowers in a raised garden bed or garden box? Here are the Pros:
1. You can use soil superior to the native yard soil, a loose mix to prevent soil compaction for easier weeding.
2. Raised beds provide good drainage.
3. You can grow atop concrete if the box soil is deep enough.
4. The soil warms up earlier so you can plant earlier and extend the growing season.
The Cons are:
1. Start-up costs can be more.
2. Requires careful planning to make enough room for plants to spread out and for reaching the middle to tend plants.
3. They drain quicker and need to be watered more often. May require an irrigation system.
Building it is easy. Home Improvement Stores carry garden kits or you can order lumber cut to size. Assemble the four sides with brackets and fill with soil. It’s that simple. The size will determine how much soil you need. Go to Gardeners Supply Company at www.gardener.com, search for “Forever raised beds” and click on “How to & Instructions”. Pull up “How to Calculate Soil Volume”. Enter your dimensions and it will calculate the cubic yards of soil needed. I needed just a little over a yard of soil to fill my large bed.
Before you order a truck of soil, visit the site where you will buy it. The lowest price might only buy a poor clay-stone mix. It could take weeks sifting stones and adding amendments for optimum growth and veggie planting. Some local nurseries will deliver a yard of good peat compost mix, premium grade soil, in a giant bag for your raised bed.
To read more of Joanne Tanners “Down to Earth” reflections on nature and more good advice for greener, tastier and more fragrant gardens by our Master Gardener, please visit our website at www.jamestowngazette.com and click on Joanne’s own page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.