by April Reinhardt
(last updated October 30, 2017)
One of the greatest pastimes, gardening can be satisfying and hugely rewarding. In order to grow plants successfully, you need adequate sunlight, good soil drainage, sufficient space, and proper soil. But what if you have clay or sandy soil, with poor drainage, making it impossible to grow plants? A practical alternative is raised bed gardening.
Also termed bio-intensive gardening, raised bed gardening was developed in 1972 at Stanford University, and was so successful that it is now used by countries who have a history of poor local nutrition. Raised bed gardening is a method of growing plants in which a frame of wood or concrete blocks is filled with dirt and enriched with organic compost of grass clippings and leaves. The framed beds are three or four feet wide, and any length, and built one foot or more above the existing ground. Planting in geometric patterns with little space between the plants creates a microenvironment, with mature plant leaves barely touching each other. The microclimate controls weed growth and preserves moisture.
You can easily build a raised garden bed at home. Start with a small bed, in location that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight each day, then follow these steps:
Raised garden beds are not easily movable, so make sure that you plan carefully before you build and plant. Some advantages of raised bed gardening are weed reduction, extended planting seasons, early thaw, and a solution to poor native soil.
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