Raised beds are a good solution where available soil is compacted, heavy clay or sand, or contaminated. A raised bed can provide maximum control over the quality of the soil in which you grow your vegetables. When setting up your raised bed garden there are several important issues to consider.

Locate beds on a level area that receives a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of sun daily. Avoid areas where water stands after a heavy rain. Gardening close to the house makes it easier to be in the garden each day and to monitor for pests and disease. Having the bed close to a water source is imperative to providing even and adequate moisture for the plants.

Typically, beds are 4 feet by 8 feet or 4 feet by 12 feet, but they could be any length desired. The height of the bed should be at least 12 inches to 18 inches to provide adequate space for the plant feeder roots. With adequate support, beds could be elevated even higher to afford access for those who would not be able to work at a lower level.

Many garden centers and catalogs offer kits that provide precut materials and all the hardware required for assembly. If you purchase your own lumber do not use pressure treated products or railroad ties that may leach chemicals into the soil. Cedar, cypress and redwood are long-lasting woods that will provide many years of service. Another alternative to keep the budget down is to check websites like Freecycle. org or Craigslist.org for materials that could be repurposed.

Fill beds with a quality soil mix. For a 4’ by 8’ bed use 2 cubic feet of topsoil, 6 cubic feet of peat moss, and 4 to 6 cubic feet of good organic compost. Add horticultural vermiculite to enhance drainage. Coco coir is a substitute for peat.

Go to YouTube for video demonstrations on how to build a raised bed. This is a good time to build a raised bed to put into use by the end of May, the ideal time to plant vegetables in the Marengo area

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