WHY GROW FOOD IN RAISED BEDS?
The Food Project began promoting raised bed gardening as a solution to growing in contaminated soil, and quickly learned that raised beds provided many more benefits! • More control over soil type and condition • Get started sooner because soil warms up faster • Easy to attach trellis, cold frame, fencing, etc • Reduced soil compaction (=less work!) • Easy to use the square foot method, which is: o Simple to learn, even for beginner gardeners o Increases production by maximizing every inch
CHOOSING THE FRAME
This first step in making your raised bed can range from being easy to intensive based on how creative you would like to be. Depending on the size of the bed you would like to make and the type of materials you can find, you may have a small, quick project or a long-term endeavor ahead of you!
BUILDING THE FRAME
Once you decide what kind of frame you are going to use for your raised bed, you are ready to prepare a space in your front or back yard. Important tips before building: • Bare soil around the outside perimeter of the bed should be avoided, especially if you are concerned about contaminated soil. Create ground cover around the bed to maintain healthy soil within the bed: grass, wood chips, crushed stone, or even a thick layer of compost • Leveling the area with a shovel or rake will make it easier to build the bed frame and help with the aesthetics of the frame • Sunlight: Make sure there is nothing blocking your bed area (such as buildings, trees, etc.) that would cause your garden to not get enough sunlight • Decide on desired height of frame. While TFP generally builds raised beds that are 10” in height, the options are endless. A height of 3 feet reduces bending over, while 6” is high enough for most crops. For a 6” high frame, using the highest quality soil, such as Mel’s Mix (below), or an organic fertilizer is recommended due to the reduced availability of nutrients from soil.
THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP
THE SOIL One of the most important steps to creating a productive garden is choosing the right soil. Raised beds provide a unique advantage because the gardener can fully manipulate what type of soil the garden will have. Soil is a key determinant in how much food a garden can grow, so it’s worth doing your research and spending a little more upfront, if possible. The better the soil, the more you will be able to maximize space and use every inch of your raised bed!
USING YOUR RAISED BED
Congratulations! You chose a type of frame, you built that frame, and you got soil to put into your raised bed. You are now ready to begin planning and preparing your raised bed for an edible garden!
Download Complete Guide: The Food Project’s Do-It-Yourself Raised Bed Building Manual
Source: The Food Project