After nine years, we have discoved that the right raised bed garden design depends on several factors, including your available space, gardening goals, personal preferences, and local climate conditions. Here are some key considerations to help you choose the right raised bed garden design:
Space: Determine how much space you have for your garden. This will influence the number and size of raised beds you can accommodate. Consider whether you have a sunny or shady area, as most vegetables and herbs prefer full sun. We cleared out trees along Kaysinger Road to assure we had sun until approximately 6 pm during summer growing season.
Accessibility: Consider your physical abilities and how easily you can access your garden. If you have mobility limitations, you may want to build taller raised beds to reduce the need for bending or kneeling. We will not do 4 foot wide beds again, instead shrinking to 3 foot width for ease of reach from either side.
Gardening Goals: Are you growing vegetables, herbs, flowers, or a mix of these? Some plants have specific space requirements or may need different depths of soil, so plan accordingly. Our success with root vegetables has been very limited. Consider natural herbal companion planting to ward off pesky insect that can ruin a whole harvest.
Soil: Check the quality of your soil. Raised beds allow you to have more control over the soil quality and drainage, which can be especially useful if your natural soil is poor or has drainage issues. We are told that for as little as $40 our local Missouri Extension Service will test our soils for acidity and mineral levels.
Design and Aesthetics: Raised beds can be designed in various shapes and arrangements. Consider the overall aesthetic you want for your garden, whether it's a formal design, a more natural look, or something in between. We chose a Maltese cross design nine years ago but will probably do a high level perimeter beds with a center row for round two.
Materials: Raised beds can be built from various materials, such as wood, concrete blocks, metal, or composite materials. Consider what materials are readily available, affordable, and suitable for your garden's style. The current beds are two level high concrete blocks but will go back to wood boxes at walking height next rebuild.
Climate: Your local climate will impact your garden's success. If you live in a cold climate, you might consider a design that allows for season extension, such as adding hoop houses or cold frames.
Watering and Irrigation: Think about how you'll water your garden. Efficient irrigation is essential, and you may want to incorporate a drip irrigation system into your design. Soil type determines a successful watering method. Our original soil mix was extremely loose and would not accommodate drip hoses easily.
Budget: Consider the costs of materials, soil, plants, and any additional features you want to include in your design. Make sure your chosen design aligns with your budget.
Future Expansion: If you plan to expand your garden in the future, leave enough space and plan the layout to accommodate future growth.
Ultimately, the right raised bed garden design is one that suits your needs and preferences while optimizing the growing conditions for your chosen plants. Take the time to plan and design your garden, and don't hesitate to consult with local gardening experts or landscape professionals for advice specific to your area.
We always tell our guests here at RGM Farms that they have full use of the five acres, garden and all! Right now we are sharing the last of our cucumbers and grape tomatoes.
Happy gardening! See you in the beds soon!