Organic Gardening Raised Beds

Organic gardening in raised beds is hands-down superior to yard-level gardening.

This page will discuss why along with how to go about setting them up…

Benefits of Organic Gardening Raised Beds

Although the trend is shifting towards organic gardening in raised beds, most gardeners still use the old-fashioned narrow yard-level garden rows with wide walkways in between. Aesthetically it makes sense, especially in our ordered lives: everything’s symmetrical and everything has its place.

But how does that compare with nature?

Consider the kind of soil in which your garden crops thrived before domestication…

  • As much soil as the roots wanted, including:
    • Deep soil from years of decomposing leaves and other organic matter
    • As much room to spread out as the plant roots desired
  • Light, non-compacted and nutrient-rich soil resulting in:
    • Unimpeded root growth in any direction
    • Abundant nutrients
    • Well-drained, well-aerated and water-retaining soil providing root access to abundant air and fresh water

How can we go about making our garden beds as similar as possible to our plants’ native habitats? Give them...

  • As much soil as the plant roots want:
    • Raised beds give roots extra vertical growing space
    • Wide beds give roots extra radial growing space
  • Light, non-compacted soil:
    • What part of the garden bed has the least compated soil? The middle, because it’s the furthest from the compressed soil of your walkways. Wider beds (or raised beds with supports) mean less compacted soil in your growing space.
  • Healthy, nutrient-rich soil

In addition to creating an optimal growing environment, organic gardening raised beds also make…

  • Weeding easier – garden weeds are much easier to pull from loose soil than from compacted soil
  • Watering more efficient – deeper, wider beds allow you to focus your watering, and water-retaining soil doesn’t need to be watered as often
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How to Create Organic Gardening Raised Beds

What’s the best way to create raised beds for gardening?

While there are no “set rules” for designing the perfect raised bed, here are some basic guidelines…

  • The depth of your raised bed should be at least 20 inches (51 cm) deep, preferably more, which includes the growing space both below yard level and above.
  • The width should be as wide as possible but still allow you to comfortably reach the center of the bed from either side without leaning on the soil. In other words, it should be about twice as wide as you can comfortably reach.
  • The length only depends on how much room you have!
  • The shape of your bed is also up to you. Is your yard L-shaped? Why not match the shape with your garden?

After deciding the dimensions, you have two choices for constructing the beds…

  1. Create flat-top mounds by tilling your garden soil and adding plenty of compost and other amendments as necessary
  2. raised bed garden kits
  3. Create your organic gardening raised beds inside supports (like the ones pictured to the right). While not necessary, supported beds are advantageous for a few reasons…
    • They have a “cleaner” look
    • They do a better job at keeping weeds out (weeds less likely to “creep” in)
    • Allows for a deeper bed (can add soil on top of soil tilled on the spot)
    • More comfortable to tend (don’t have to lean over as far to weed)

If you decide to place your raised bed inside supports, there are two ways to go about it…

  1. Purchase pre-made raised bed garden kits for easy assembly
  2. Build your own using raised garden plans
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