Good Gardening: Raised Beds

Apr 1, 2019

  I don't like raised beds. Gasp- Huh Ok- In most situations I don't like wooden raised beds.  There are a few reasons to have a raised garden area. The soil will drain, warm, and be workable a little earlier. And if you have mobility problems or issues that keep you from getting down to ground level, a raised bed can be useful. But there are ways to avoid the ubiquitous wooden walled boxes that have sprouted up in so many yards, and still get the results you want. Mounded beds with no wooden support will help with drainage and warm the soil better than a box. Wood on soil will provide a hiding place for slugs, and walls force you to plant in the same spots over and over again. Keeping a box of soil fertile requires more input of materials. Using mounded beds allows you to move the garden rows around from year to year, and take full advantage your planting spaces flexibility. And while during spring, the drier soil of a raised planting area can be nice, from June through September, a raised planting area will require more water to keep your plants properly moist. But my biggest objection to raised beds is the waste of wood. Using three hundred year old cedar trees to build something with a twenty year life span is not sustainable.  Stone, broken concrete, plastic decking, or concrete cinder blocks can be used to make attractive beds that will last forever. If you used salvaged wood like old fence boards you won't cut down a new tree, but will have to do repair work more often. While pressure treated wood manufactured since 2004 has no arsenic in it, the recommendation is to not use it in direct contact with soil used to grow food crops.  So get a kneeling pad, sit on the ground while you weed, and think twice before you build a wooden raised bed. Copyright 2019 KLCC.