As tempting as it may be to get your new raised bed up and running, you really want to spend some time planning it; there are a couple of very important mistakes to avoid.
1. YOUR RAISED BED IS NOT PROPERLY ORIENTATED
If possible, raised beds should be orientated north to south. This will ensure that the entire bed will receive the maximum amount of sun. If you are going to install a permanent trellis, position it at the northern end of the bed (in the southern hemisphere locate this at the southern end).
2. SKIMPING ON THE SOIL MIX IN YOUR RAISED BED
Fill your raised bed with the best possible soil mix you can afford. It should be light and airy. We stock Miracle Gro Raised Bed Mix in our store which will ensure a great result. Avoid filling your raised bed with your existing garden soil. If you decide to use your own mix, choose a good topsoil – don’t skimp on this and add lots of compost and humus – there are some interesting selections in the Soil Mix/Compost/Mulch aisle. I go into more detail about this in my book.
Start with one raised bed and do it well, rather than a couple of raised beds with mediocre soil.
3.YOUR RAISED BED IS THE WRONG SIZE
Avoid going too wide. You want to be able to reach the center of the bed without climbing into the raised bed – that’s the quickest way to lose the airy quality of the soil mix. Don’t go wider than four-foot – that will give you access from all sides.
Also, even if you are not going to use the square-foot raised bed method initially, make sure that your bed is divisible by 12 inches; if you change your mind later about the square-foot method, your raised bed will have the correct dimensions to accommodate it.
4. YOUR RAISED BED IS NOT DEEP ENOUGH
Don’t opt for a shallow bed if you can afford a deeper raised bed. A 12-inch bed is suitable for most vegetables – remember that you need to leave room for a 2-inch layer of mulch. However, if you are able to stretch to a deeper raised bed, 18 – 24 inches, you will be able to grow crops which require greater depth – asparagus will thrive in a deeper raised bed.
Remember, you don’t have to fill your deeper raised bed with your soil mix all the way to the bottom – see my blog on Hugelkulture for some interesting ideas.
5. FORGETTING TO PROTECT AGAINST MOLES/ VOLES AND GOPHERS
You’ve invested in the raised bed and the soil mix – you deserve to kick back and enjoy the fruits of your labors. However, there is an army of critters just waiting to enjoy the smorgasbord that you’ve created. Before you fill your raised bed, attach hardware cloth – available in the Plant Protectors aisle, to the base of your raised bed. Ensure that there is sufficient overlap.
Hardware cloth, actually made of small sturdy mesh, will protect your raised bed investment and save you considerable heartache!
These 5 pointers should be included in your plan for your raised bed before you install it!
For a detailed discussion on raised bed gardening, see our flippable e-book on Raised Bed Gardening 101. Check out the excerpt on our website! You can also receive extra coaching via zoom.
Our international bestselling book, Container and Raised Bed Gardening for Beginners and Beyond, goes into even more detail, and covers container gardening as well, and gardening guides for 50 vegetables, herbs, fruit and cut flowers.
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