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  • Writer's pictureDigger and Gina McLean

8 Essential Tips for Successful Raised Bed Gardening

It's Spring and we are getting calls from people who want to improve their gardening experience this year. The gardening mistakes we made last year are still on our minds, and hope springs eternal around the first of March. We're gardeners, so we want to improve, do better and try again.

For the home gardener, raised beds are growing in popularity. You can make raised beds out of almost any material. Check out Pinterest for tons of ideas on that.

Here are 8 tips that will take you from zero to hero with your vegetable garden this year:

  1. Make them manageable. They need to be easy to access from all sides, and at least 12" deep.

  2. Bed prep is key. For raised beds, you need a good, well drained soil in the top 8"-10" of the bed. A blend of topsoil and compost will work well, or you can use a commercial garden soil.

  3. Check your soil Ph. Most vegetables need a soil Ph between 6.0 and 7.0. Soil Ph is critical for the release of nutrients to plants.

  4. Plant after Good Friday. This is the rule of thumb for most of the South. You can sow some plants from seed directly in your bed, start your own seeds indoors early, or purchase vegetable plants from your local garden center.

  5. Fertilize as needed. Most vegetables are heavy feeders. Fertilizers high in phosphorus (the middle number on a fertilizer bag) produce blooms and fruit. If your fertilizer is too high in nitrogen (the first number on the fertilizer bag) you will have beautiful plant growth but little or no fruit.

  6. Keep weeds at bay. If your soil is good quality and pliable, you will have less weeds and they will be much easier to pull. Not letting weeds get ahead of you will help you to stress less and enjoy your garden more.

  7. Mulch your beds. Did you know that mulching your raised beds will increase your yield by 50% by preventing weeds and plant diseases caused by soil splashing on plants. It also reduces plant stress by maintaining soil moisture.

  8. Enjoy! Realize you will have some successes and some failures, but give yourself some love for growing your own food.

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