Raised garden beds have so many advantages going for them it really isn’t a surprise that more and more gardeners are being converted to their use. Apart from the obvious benefit of the gardener not having to bend down so much and thus making gardening a less arduous experience, they are extremely versatile in the type of plants that can be grown. This is down to the fact that the gardener has total control of the growing medium used in a raised bed, and can suit it to any desired crop.
Of course, the raised beds have to be built and filled. There may have to be some initial expenditure for materials and growing medium, but in the long run the advantages of raised beds far outweigh these costs. Raised beds have excellent drainage and are guaranteed never to stay water-logged. Because the soil in them is never walked upon it does not become compacted and does not need to be dug over every year.
No compaction aids drainage and means there is plenty of air in the soil. All good gardeners know that as well as water and nutrients, air is also required for strong healthy root growth. Because of the height of a raised bed, plants will also have the opportunity to send their roots deep, searching out nutrients.
The fact that raised beds do not have to be dug over, apart from lessening wear and tear on the gardener’s back, means that a stable community of soil borne organisms can develop over time without being rudely disrupted once a year. There are all kinds of interactions going on in the soil involving a plant’s roots and soil borne bacteria and fungi, which aid nutrient uptake and healthy growth, and a gardener is wise to encourage these as much as possible.
For a raised bed in which vegetables have been grown and harvested, all a gardener needs to do is spread some well rotted garden compost over the surface at the end of the season and the resident earthworms will do the rest, dragging the organic matter down into the soil as they feed and go about their business.
Raised beds can also be used for permanent plantings, where compost can be applied as a mulch to help replenish the soil. The flowers of smaller bedding plants such as pansies, petunias or busy lizzies can be appreciated much better in a raised bed, and the task of deadheading them is made much easier. For the gardener interested in natural history, both benefical insects such as bees and ladybugs, and insect pests are more easily observed.
Generally it should be easier to spot the first signs of insect attack or disease if you are growing using raised beds, you really can get in there and closley inspect your plants. On a more pleasant note, it is also far easier to smell a scented bloom.
Raised beds have many things going for them. For the gardener whose soil is poor and ill-nourished they offer the opportunity to create near perfect growing conditions, and to grow crops which are easily looked after and accessible. This also means they are a boon for the gardener of advancing years, or those with disabilities. There will still be those who prefer to grow directly in the ground, but even they would not argue with the advantages given here.
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