I learned early on in my serious gardening endeavors that a raised garden bed could produce more results than a traditional ‘row and pathway’ plan. I was smart enough to read up on the subject, and raised garden ideas filled my gardening journals from the very start. I viewed my plantings as not only a source for good, organic table offerings, but as a way to connect with my daughters and teach them habits they could carry with them through life. Our progress has improved over the years with experience, and we have grown closer as a result.
Designing a Useable Raised Garden
Through research, I discovered Mel Bartholomew’s square foot gardening method, which is based on the idea that gardening should be fun. His garden ideas were revolutionary in his time, as traditional row gardens had the reputation for being difficult to maintain, and a pain to repair each season. Gardening is about getting your hands dirty and reconnecting with growing things, not breaking your back tilling hardened and depleted soil.
The raised bed is designed as a 4 foot by 4 foot square, with the garden idea based on an average person’s reach. The space is meant to be reached into, rather than walked upon, so by moving about the raised garden, a person can easily access the vegetables and fruit within. By not stepping on the specially formulated soil, there is never a need to till at the beginning of the growing season.
Garden Ideas For Soil Preparation
A raised bed allows the gardener to ‘build’ their own soil composition. By following the basic square foot gardening formula, the soil replenished itself and there is no need to ever bring in additional fertilizers. The addition of vermiculite allows for proper drainage with no possibility of over watering, and sphagnum peat moss in the mix helps with moisture retention. The last element, a blend of various composts, gives balance to the required nutrients. With this blend, the sky is the limit for unique as well as traditional garden ideas. The specific square foot garden soil formula can be found in the article, ‘5 Tips for Micro Gardening in the Urban Backyard.’
Raised Garden Access
One other considerable benefit of a raised bed is the ease of access. Due to its manageable size, a raised garden bed can be fitted with a ¼” 4×4 plywood sheet and placed up on sawhorses, allowing for wheel-chair bound gardeners unfettered access to a highly-productive growing space. The gardener simply wheels around the raised garden, with the ability to reach in and work the soil without a need for specialized equipment.
Each year my garden changes in significant ways, whether by my adding an additional raised garden bed or by the types of crops I decide to plant. It has become a living and breathing entity, almost a third child that I attend to with care and affection. Years from now I can only begin to guess what it may become, as I have no shortage of wonderful raised garden ideas that I have yet to explore.