What Can You do in your early Fall Garden? Try Building Raised Garden Beds
Bring New Life to Your Garden This Fall
As we ease into early fall, many of the summer plants, like tomatoes, don’t have enough warm weather and sunlight to keep thriving. Don’t worry…There’s still plenty to do as your summer crops reach the end of their harvest.
Is your garden in need of an update?
Raised beds may be a great option for expanding or improving your garden. There are plenty of benefits. For example, you have better control over the quality of your soil. Also, raised gardens make it easier access to all your plants.
So how do you get started? Find out now.
Planning Your Raised Garden
A little planning may save some headaches, backaches, and plants down the line. After all, you want to make sure you have easy access to your raised garden, plants, and all the great crops you plan to harvest.
Before you even break ground, you want to make sure your raised garden is in a convenient location with favorable growing conditions. Choose an area with full sun exposure. Full sun ensures all your summer vegetables will grow and ripen so you can harvest and enjoy them.
The sun is important, but there are other things to consider:
– A nearby water source
Dragging a hose or buckets around every couple of days during a dry CA summer can be a hassle. You may even want to consider installing an irrigation system.
– Make it close to your kitchen
The best part of growing vegetables is adding them to your favorite dishes. Easy access to your raised garden makes grabbing the vegetables and herbs quick when you need them most.
– Fencing the area
You work hard to make your garden thrive. A fence can prevent troublesome critters and even kids from ruining your hard work.
– Size of the garden
You can be as ambitious as you want with the size of your raised garden. The length can vary based on your available space and how much you want to plant. The width, however, should be fairly standard. A four-foot width is ideal for adults to access plants from either side of the garden. If you plan on gardening with your children, you may want to stick with a three-foot width.
– Building on level ground
It’s easiest to build a raised garden on level ground. Some slope is manageable, but you may have to do a little extra digging when setting up your frame.
Creating Your Raised Garden
You could make a raised garden out of just about anything. A mound of soil and organic matter surrounded by bricks, rocks, or stones can make a completely functional raised garden.
Of course, many people prefer the look and accessibility of a wood raised garden. So what do you need to build a wood raised garden? Here are some common supplies and materials:
Long-lasting cedar or redwood lumber. Ideally 4x4s for the posts and 2x6s for the border.
Screws to keep the wood in place
Hardware cloth to keep the pests–like gophers–out
Tools like a table saw, power screwdriver, and tape measure
An extra set (or two) of hands to get everything in place
There are plenty of designs that work for a raised bed. In a nutshell, you want to attach a couple of layers of 2x6s to the 4×4 posts and to create a rectangular shape. Then, attach the hardware cloth to the bottom of the bed.
How high should you build the raised garden? Ultimately it depends on what is comfortable for you and how much you want to bend. At least 18 inches is a good height. For added comfort, you could put a cap–longer pieces of wood at the top of the raised garden–to sit on and place your garden tools.
Preparing Your Raised Garden
Remember: your vegetables are only going to be as good as the soil you use. Plan to fill your raised gardens with 60% organic matter and 40% inorganic matter–the stuff generally sold as “topsoil”.
Please note: bagged soil and plant mixes, in general, are not designed for raised gardens. While you may experience some success in the short term using bagged soil, it may lead to issues years later. Choose products that make raised gardens thrive.
If you want to add irrigation, opt for an in-line drip irrigation system. This allows even moisture for the entire root zone of those thirsty vegetables. In-line drip is much more efficient and effective than small individual spray emitters.
Planting in Your Raised Garden
Now the fun starts. Of course, you want to plant vegetables that are in season. If you have a raised garden ready now (early fall), choose crops like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.
Want a little boost for your garden? Use flowering plants to attract beneficial insects. This helps to keep the pests under control in your garden. And this, of course, keeps you from using harmful pesticides.
Raised gardens can add visual appeal to just about any garden scene. A well-made raised garden can keep pests away and save strain on your back.
If you have any questions about raised gardens, feel free to drop by Mission Hills Nursery and have a chat with our staff. We’ll get you started and give you some great tips for a successful garden.