There are plenty of reasons why choosing a raised bed gardening style for beginners is ideal. Gardening for the first time can feel intimidating. It doesn’t have to be, though. In a short amount of time and with minimal effort, you’ll have a raised bed garden even if you’re a complete beginner.
There are plenty of reasons why choosing the raised bed gardening style is optimal for beginners. It is the easiest method, so when you’ve never grown vegetables or other garden plants before, you can ease into this. It will also be easier to control the soil. Plus, there’s no need to till the soil and prep it all before you plant seeds.
Another reason raised bed gardening is ideal for beginners is that you can plant vegetables anywhere on your property. So, if you have limited space or lighting, you can adjust the location that’s best for your plants. If you have any physical challenges or other limitations, raising your garden becomes another great advantage over in-soil gardening. So, let’s get started.
How to Do Raised Bed Gardening
You may have the materials needed to get started already, but in most cases, getting started with raised bed gardening as a beginner will require some money. First, though, let me get you started with the no-cost steps.
1. Select the best location for your raised bed. Ideally, this area should receive 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight. Remember, when gardening, the more sunlight your plants and vegetables receive, the better.
For hotter climates, such as the Southern U.S., you’ll want to limit direct sun exposure to avoid your plants getting burned out. Find the proper balance when possible.
2. Prepare the area. Once you’ve selected the location for your raised bed, prepare the ground. Yes, you’re placing the plants in raised beds. But weed the area so your vegetables won’t be competing with those pests for water, sunlight, or the precious nutrients.
3. Build your beds. You can purchase ready-made raised bed boxes or build your own. Some people take extra wood that is around their property or house and create the raised beds. If you don’t have wood and are tight on funds, consider old tires, milk crates, or even palettes that businesses need to get rid of.
Make sure when you’re building your beds that you allow for proper drainage. The optimal size for a raised bed is four feet by four feet, or you can go a bit longer, such as eight feet by four feet.
4. Determine the vegetables you’ll grow in your raised bed. Below we outline the best vegetables to grow in a raised bed. As you’ll notice, not all vegetables are best suited for this type of gardening. But you can grow nearly anything in these raised bed. Some plants will produce fewer vegetables in a raised bed or box garden than they would in ground soil.
5. Choose the right soil. Below, we also outline the different types of soils you might use. The right one will depend on various factors, including the plants you grow, climate, water, nutrient needs, etc.
Raised Bed Gardening Tips & Ideas
A great tip for raised bed gardening is to begin with herbs and low maintenance plants. Success breeds desire, so when you choose easier-to-maintain plants and see them flourish, you’ll be inspired to keep going and scale up.
Seek help when it’s needed. Moving soil may be tough, but you can ask for help or simply use smaller buckets to mix and move soil as you’re getting started.
Building a raised bed garden offers a great opportunity to place the plants at the right height for you. If you have physical challenges, disabilities, or other limitations, placing the beds at the best height for your abilities is in your control.
Plant seeds in neat, organized rows. This will help you determine the difference between weed and plant as they begin growing.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Raised Bed Gardening
Key advantages are:
- Great when you have limited space
- Easy for beginners to start growing a garden
- Can be optimal for people with physical limitations
- Better drainage for the plants
- Easier to control weeds
Some disadvantages may include:
- Cost, depending on raised bed needs
- Requires more attention for watering
- May need to add more fertilizers regularly
Best Soil for Raised Bed Gardens
For beginners, it’s best to choose a 1:1 mix of topsoil and compost. Compost will be loaded with essential nutrients for plants, and if you lack access to compost, be sure to mix in the right blend of fertilizer into your soil. You’ll also need to add more fertilizer every week or every other week for your plants.
Best Vegetables for Raised Bed Gardening
While you can select almost any practical vegetable for your raised bed garden, here are a few of the best choices for beginners:
Tomatoes – There is a wide variety of tomatoes to choose from, but remember that the output (number of tomatoes produced) may be lower than it would for an in-ground garden.
Lettuce – This plant is easy to grow and great for beginners to get a handle on the process.
carrots – Choose a short carrot for raised beds, but make sure the depth of your bed is ample for this plant. Too shallow and you’ll end up with damaged crops.
Cucumbers – if you have lattice, cucumbers can be a great addition for your raised bed garden. As the plant grows, work the new growth up and through the lattice to ensure it grows up and
Frequently Asked Questions
In order for your raised bed garden to produce heathy, ample vegetables, the bed should be at least eight inches deep. However, you’ll want to avoid having the soil all the way at the time, as it can wash out in heavy rains, so consider 10-inch depth as ideal.
Organic matter is optimal for the bottom of your raised bed garden. This will include compost materials, including egg shells and used coffee grinds, but also grass clippings, wood chips, and leaves. Place cardboard on top of this layer, which can act as a short-term weed barrier.
A 4 x 8 raised bed that’s 8-inches deep will be about 21.44 cubic feet of space. Considering that the average bag of garden soil contains 1.5 cubic feet, you’ll need approximately 15 bags to fill a raised garden bed of this size. If your bed is deeper, you may need one or two more bags.