Raised beds are actually nothing more than oversized wooden flower boxes. Creating such a raised bed does not require extensive gardening knowledge and even a layman can create and plant such a bed. Regardless of whether you plant flowers, herbs or vegetables in the bed, it is always an enrichment for your garden.
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Advantages & disadvantages of a raised bed
As with anything, raised beds have their pros and cons. It has to be said quite clearly that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
The advantages of a raised bed:
- A raised bed is an eye-catcher and beautifies the garden picture.
- A raised bed is the ideal solution, especially for older people or people with back problems, because the workplace is raised by a good one meter – depending on the model.
- Yields are higher because there is better heat in the raised bed, so you can start growing sooner.
- Another advantage is the better nutrient ratios.
- The resulting compost can be used later.
The disadvantages of a raised bed:
- If you create the raised bed from scratch, this initially means a lot of work and time
- Since raised beds are usually made of wood, this requires some preparatory care so that it does not rot too quickly and the wet cannot harm it.
- In hot temperatures, the plants have to be watered more often, otherwise the soil will dry out too quickly.
Vegetable cultivation – suitable varieties for the raised bed
If you cover your raised bed with a translucent cover, you can benefit from your cultivation all year round. Lettuce planting is of course ideal here. You can even grow your own lettuce from seedlings here. However, it is important to ensure that you choose the right variety according to the season, because a distinction is made between autumn lettuce and summer and spring lettuce – the latter are planted from around mid-March. The summer varieties can be placed in the raised bed from mid-May and wait until the end of July for the autumn varieties.
But not only lettuce finds its way into the raised bed, tomatoes, peppers and herbs are also ideal for planting. So you always have plenty of healthy vegetables and of course enough variety. However, it is particularly important to ensure that pepper or tomato plants are protected from wind and weather.
Build a raised bed yourself – preparation & materials
Before you actually start constructing the raised bed, there are a few preparations that need to be made. First you need a kit that can be assembled using a simple modular design. The kit includes four side parts, a vole grid, bubble wrap and screws. As an alternative, you can also construct and build the raised bed yourself, but the first variant is quite quick and uncomplicated.
In addition to the kit, you also need some tree clippings, green waste, chaff, compost, sod, leaves and soil and then you can start building the raised bed.
Building instructions for a bed made of wood
As mentioned, you can purchase the complete kit from any well-stocked hardware store or garden center. You have the choice of models made of wood or plastic, although you should primarily use the former. Not only is wood a natural resource, it’s also a renewable resource, so you’re doing the environment a favour. Maybe you even go a step further and look out for models made from local wood species? This is even more good for the environment, as there are only short transport routes. Larch wood would be ideal here, as it has a high resin content and you can save yourself the impregnation.
Build a raised bed in 13 steps:
- Pin the side pieces together.
- Screw them together for a better hold.
- Lay the vole grid on the bottom, over which you will later sprinkle the filling material.
- Now attach the bubble wrap to the interior. Make sure that the knobs fit snugly against the wood.
- Then attach the edge to the raised bed.
- Now fill the raised bed with a ten centimeter thick layer of leaves.
- Now add twigs and branches to the next 20 centimeters.
- This is followed by a thin layer of chopped material.
- It would be ideal if you had some grass clippings available. You can distribute this in a ten centimeter thick layer over the chopped material.
- Now lay sod over the last layer. The earth should point upwards.
- Another layer of leaves follows. About five centimeters are enough here.
- The leaf layer is now covered with a layer of compost. This layer should be about four inches high.
- Finally, add a layer of garden soil and you can start planting straight away.
The hill bed – the alternative to the raised bed
A hill bed is a good alternative to a raised bed. This is slightly sloping and, in contrast to a raised bed, is created without an edging. The advantage of a hill bed – you get more growing area than if you create a normal shallow bed.
Useful information about the hill bed
Mound beds should always be oriented north-south. Fill up about 40 centimeters to achieve the corresponding basic shape of the hill bed. This should be almost two meters wide and about 80 centimeters high. You are free to choose the length. Dig the soil well beforehand so that it becomes looser. Here, too, it is advisable to lay a vole net and to cover it with appropriate natural materials – similar to those of the raised bed.
watering & planting
You can lay a spray hose or create a watering channel. For the first few years you should only plant plants that do not store as much nitrate because of the nitrate release that prevails in the first few years. Zucchini, peppers, tomatoes and cabbage are suitable here. In the second year you can gut the varieties a little and fall back on fennel or beetroot. In the following years, this only plays a limited role and you plant almost all types of vegetables. With potatoes, however, things are a little different. These should only find their way into the hill bed from the sixth year.
The pros and cons of a hill bed
Due to the sloping structure of the bed, rainwater can drain off easily. Thanks to the slightly higher altitude, better sun exposure is guaranteed, which means that the cultivation period is longer. In addition, hill beds are easier to manage because they are easier on the back thanks to the elevation.
The disadvantages, however, are that you have to increase the bed every three to four years. If you have added wooden components, these must also be renewed after a few years. In addition, the bed should be completely replanted after about six years.