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We’re hoping to get the items needed for our (very first) garden next weekend.  Aaron grew up on a farm, and his mother’s “garden” was a whole acre!  But I’ve never gardened before, so I’ve been reading up lots and lots on the topic to prepare me/us for this new venture.  Here’s the two books I’ve found most helpful (I’ve probably read both cover to cover at least twice now).

The many advantages of raised bed gardening

First, there are advantages for your garden:

  • Perhaps the most important advantage is greatly reduced soil compaction.  Plant roots need air.  In an ordinary garden, you can’t avoid stepping in the garden bed occasionally when doing your everyday gardening.  A properly designed raised bed garden allows you to do all your gardening from the garden path.
  • Plants can be spaced a little closer together in a raised bed because you don’t need places to step.  This increases productivity per square foot of bed and reduces weeding when the plants begin to mature.
  • Note:  Avoid the temptation to crowd your plants.  You will still want to use generous plant spacing because your plants will grow much larger in raised beds.
  • Raised beds tend to drain away excess moisture better than ordinary garden beds.  This is another advantage that helps the plant roots to breath.  In areas that have saturated soil like Florida and many areas of the South, raised beds may be the only way you can grow many types of plants.
  • Soil conditions and types can be controlled more efficiently in a raised bed and they can be varied easily from bed to bed.  Raised beds are the answer when topsoil is thin.
  • Water, fertilizer, compost, mulch, etc. can be applied more carefully because they only need to be applied to the garden beds.
  • Various studies have shown that raised garden beds produce 1.4 to 2 times as much vegetables and flowers per square foot as ordinary beds, due mainly to the above advantages.  You can have a smaller and more manageable garden that produces more goodies for your table.

Then, there are advantages for you:

  • Raised garden beds bring your garden closer to you.  Raised beds are after all, raised!
  • Raised beds tend to bring more order and pleasing geometry to your garden, especially when forms or edging are used to define them.
  • Raised beds can extend your gardening season.  They tend to warm up a little sooner in the spring and remain productive later in the fall.
  • Do your gardening from the comfort of the garden path.  No more bending over to pull weeds or trim plants.  Sit on a stool or put a seat board on your garden wagon!

We are hoping to grow … tomatoes, beans, onions, lettuce, peppers, and possibly raspberries.  I think that’ll be more than enough than enough for us to “learn” on for our first year.  Then, this fall, I’m hoping to plant garlic.  This past week we noticed that in our back yard are cherry trees and an apple tree.  Here’s hoping they all bear fruit this year!

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