Sometimes referred to as garden boxes, raised garden beds provide helpful growing options for gardeners. Raised beds are useful for a variety of reasons including improved drainage, less back pain for gardeners, warmer soil (for earlier outdoor planting), and more protection from pesky weeds.
How Tall Should Raised Vegetable Beds Be?
For most raised beds made out of wood, 11” is the most popular height. That’s mostly because this equals 2 boards that are 2”x6” stacked together. This is also because if you make raised beds any taller than this, you may find that they need cross supports in order to keep the boards from bowing outward in the middle.
Raised beds built in a garden that is sloped will vary in height depending on the grade. The higher the beds, the easier the work will be on your back when you are weeding, tilling, transplanting, or doing other potentially back-breaking work.
Raised Vegetable Bed Depth Requirements
Some of the height of your raised beds depends on the depth of the vegetables you plan to grow. The deeper your plants, the higher you may need your raised beds to be. Here are the basic depths needed for various rooting plants:
Shallow Rooting 12-18”
Medium Rooting 18-24”
Deep Rooting 24-36”
How to Prepare Raised Beds
Prepare the soil you plan to use for raised beds, first by digging out and tilling the soil. Many gardeners think that double digging (24” deep or 2 shovel lengths) is helpful in order to remove any rocks, roots, or other debris that might obstruct the growth of the roots of your deeper rooted vegetables.
Once you’ve checked for roots and laid your wooden sides, you’ll need to even out the sides by using a level. If you don’t follow this standard, you’ll find yourself with an extremely uneven bed—and unhealthy water runoff or flooding.
If you have pests in your neighborhood that burrow, such as moles, go ahead and lay down a layer of galvanized mesh (hardware cloth) across the bottom prior to adding the soil.
Soil amendments, an organic material such as peat or compost, should be added at this point and spread evenly throughout the bed, then watered gently to settle the soil. Then add just a bit more soil on top and rake one more time. Now you’re ready to plant!
Care of Raised Vegetable Beds
If you are building more than one raised bed for vegetables, space them approximately 2 feet apart if you have room. This will give you ample room to walk or move a wheelbarrow across the path. Mulching the path between is also a great idea, but you should certainly lay down landscape cloth first. Staple the cloth to the bottom of your raised bed edge and cover the whole area with bark mulch. Also, be sure to step around, not on, your raised beds. This will keep the soil intact and promote healthy growth of your vegetables.
Using raised beds is a great way to grow tasty vegetables in your garden which you can feed to your family or sell. Check out Seed to Cash, a growing system which takes you step-by-step through the vegetable growing (and selling!) process with ease.