Reap The Rewards of a Productive Plot!
No Dig Gardening in Raised Beds Can Offer Busy People a Long Term Solution....
Most people dream of being able to wander out into the garden and pick their own home grown produce to put on the table for teatime. However the majority of people, due to busy lifestyles, are unable to find the time to look after their garden properly, let alone tend to a labour intensive vegetable plot.
Low maintenance raised beds can offer busy people a long term solution to this problem, but there are advantages and disadvantages of using raised beds for growing vegetables that I have discovered over the years (please see my other hubs linked below) and that I think you need to be made aware of. Once you are made fully aware of these pros and cons, you’ll be able to make a much more informed decision before spending lots of time, effort and money installing them in your garden.
My Secret To Growing Bigger and Better Tomatoes
The Advantages of Growing Vegetables in a Raised Beds Garden...
Raised beds are ideal if you are experienced gardener or a novice. Why? Well, what better way to start gardening than by using your raised beds to concentrate on some very productive salad crops such as lettuce, radish, spring onions, tomatoes and herbs, like bay trees, thyme and chives that are easy to grow and give guaranteed harvest results every time.....an ideal scenario even if you are an experienced gardener!
Growing vegetables in raised beds can keep the actual work (time and effort put in when compared to a traditional vegetable plot) to a minimum of say just a few hours per week, if you plant trouble free varieties and combine their use with some very clever gardening techniques.
Growing vegetables in well built raised beds means no digging, because the effort taken to install all-weather paths ensures that you are not constantly walking on the soil which therefore does not get compacted, so you don’t have to aerate the soil.
Low maintenance raised beds also means less weeding because the soil is richer and deeper you can plant your vegetables closer together, therefore there is less space for the weeds to take hold.
A deep raised bed also provides more than enough nutrients for healthy plant growth and holds onto any water better than a normal vegetable plot, this means you are not constantly watering, therefore saving time and effort.
Additionally if you get into the habit of using mulch in both spring and autumn, of either leaf mould, organic manure or straw etc, then this will also help with water conservation, suppress the weeds and feed the plants.
The Disadvantages of Growing Vegetables in a Raised Beds Garden.
Planting crops and in particular the same vegetable on the same plot of land, year after year, can encourage the development of pests and diseases, things you obviously don’t want in your raised garden bed.
The way to avoid this happening to you is to plant a variety of vegetables and use a 3 year crop rotation system on your raised beds. A lot of people get confused with rotating crops around their plot, but practicing crop rotation does not have to be complex! All you have to do on selected areas of your plot is basically plant a root crop in the first year, followed by an above the ground vegetable the next year, returning to a different root crop in the third year.
Well defined raised beds mean a smaller working area to cultivate, so I tend to go for dwarf and early maturing varieties of vegetables, but this means that yields per plant tend to be lower than that you would normally expect in a traditional plot. You can counteract this by working in lots of organic material into the soil before planting thereby increasing your average yields per square foot.
Also, if you want to increase your yields even more, you can plant much closer together with a raised bed, but once again you have to be careful not to encourage those pests and diseases that you don’t want to take hold in your plot. As a preventative measure, always choose disease resistant seeds and plants for your plot and at the first sign of any disease or pest, treat plants with a suitable pesticide or organic alternative immediately when the symptoms appear.
As the summer progresses, you’ll find that your small plot will require more and more watering, especially when entering the harvest period as some crops depend heavily on lots of water to swell the fruit and ripen, e.g. tomatoes. Daily watering can soon become burdensome to those with busy lives, but you can get round this by regularly applying mulch between your crops in order to conserve water in the ground and by investing in an automatic watering system.
Family holidays have to be planned around the growing season, unless you have a helpful neighbour who is willing to tend to your crops (especially during the harvests). It’s not just watering and feeding I am thinking about here, as watering problems can be solved with an automatic watering system as mentioned above. When some vegetables enter their harvesting period, e.g. runner beans, you have to keep picking the fruits to keep the plant productive, or else the plant will flower and then crop production for that year stops completely.
How Much Time Can You Devote To Gardening In Your Raised Beds?
In order to make vegetable growing in raised beds work for you, you need to think seriously about how much time you can invest in your garden each week and then take advantage and employ the latest labour-saving plants, products and techniques in order to make it all worthwhile. Gardening should be a pleasure not a chore and the more it becomes a pleasure, the more time you will want to spend in there enjoying it!
Mary N.Muimui on July 21, 2020:
Thanks for sharing. I like gardening but i don't yield good vegetables.
Now I know how to go about. Thanks
Marsha Musselman from Michigan, USA on July 31, 2013:
Great hub, voted up and pinned. I don't have much time for gardening at present, but will consider some of these ideas in the future. I have considered raised bed gardening before as it would be much easier working with the plants as I can't kneel on my knees anymore.
I'll have to check out some of your other hubs soon.
2uesday on January 28, 2012:
Lots of good advice here on this page, for anyone thinking of starting to grow their own vegetables this would be worth reading.