Living sustainably with a custom raised garden bed!
The sun is warming the backs of your hands. The breeze is there, just gentle enough to to make the spinach heads nod, like old men remembering the good old days. The smell of dark damp soil permeates the open air and it hums with the wings of beneficial little buglings, seeking solitude – like you – in the eden of your backyard vegetable garden.
This is the ideal. This is the dream. One day you too will grow your own food and live off the fat of the land – your land.
And then you are hit with memory of every other little thing that needs you. Needs your attention. The weekdays are for work, and the weekends fill quickly. You don’t have time to grow a vegetable garden. You can’t commit to something like that. Can you?
If your brain works anything like mine, this pretty little picture will have played over your mind time and time again. So often I have daydreamed of the goodness of a self sustained life. I have even imagined ducks, pigs and goats, just doing their thing with warm thankfulness for letting them rent such a patch of earth as this. You’re welcome, little fellas.
Doubt often follows…. I can’t. I don’t know enough. It will take some reading…
But take it from me, a fellow doubter, you can. Well at least the vegetable bit. Let’s not overdo it.
Raised Garden Beds. They’re not for sleeping in, although you may want to before long.
You may wonder about the raised part. Why raised? What’s the benefit?
Well growing good veggies, I’ve learned, requires good soil. Some people are blessed with the perfect dark brown loamy soil that gardening dreams are made of but most have sub par dirt to work with that are compacted (a big no no for gardening) or suffer from poor drainage (plants want water in the form of moisture, not a swamp). A homegrown garden bed means you are working above ground and have all the control over what medium your veggies grown in.
You can simply fill the beds with premium potting mix, buy some good stuff from a landscape supplier, or you can add your own soil, mixing in aggregate to assist drainage, manure for a nutrient boost and compost to fill the soil with microscopic bacterial angels.
Another benefit of raised veggies beds is the height. You won’t break your back when you harvest all that lush produce or pluck that odd weed with satisfaction.
Homegrown veggies in raised beds are usually planted closer together than traditional garden rows. Leaves of plants can almost be touching each other with companion plants growing beneath. This creates a warm and cosy little micro-climate (like a backyard balinese hut in Adelaide!) with a longer growing season and less room for weeds.
If you have a sloped backyard, it can be difficult for your soil to maintain its moisture. You may even suffer from erosion (nutrient rich topsoil washing away downhill). Using raised vegetable gardens can solve this problem. For starters the material the bed made from will hold the soil from slipping and then the soil stays level, allowing water to sink evenly below the surface.
What are they made of?
A raised garden bed can be made from anything really. You may wish to keep it simple: go ahead and find something that will contain soil. As a general rule of thumb it should be about 1 metre wide by 1.5m long but it’s your dream remember. Or you can build one out of concrete or a timber frame. If the thought of hammering your thumb freaks you out a bit (me too) not all is lost. Consider buying one of the many pre-manufactured DIY kits out there that are made from food grade materials like these ones.
So you see. You can do it. Easily.
Whether you own an acre or barely space for an entertaining area, home grown raised gardens can become that little eden of goodness you always dreamed of.