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Raised beds are the way to go. Planting a raised bed is like putting all your hopes and dreams in a box. No matter if you’re growing veggies or cut flowers, when you are trying to push out a crop efficiently and reliably, raised beds are the best bet to make the magic happen. Although a raised bed might not be suitable for bulky perennial borders, if you want to quickly reclaim lawn or an under-utilized area in your yard for growing purposes, raised beds will move that project into the fast lane.

(Almost) Anything is Possible

Got extra space in your yard that is sitting around and doing nothing? Convert to raised beds, fill them with veggies, and feed the family. Want to camouflage your neighbor’s garage? Run a raised bed safely on your side of the property line and tuck in some conifers. Battling invasive plants in a space that is visible but not really on your beaten track? Put in raised beds and turn your environmental eyesore into the envy of the neighborhood with showy perennials. Want to grow berries or asparagus or just about anything, but your soil isn’t particularly conducive? Put in a raised bed and fill it with the soil of your dreams. No matter what the mission, raised beds come to the rescue.

The Nitty Gritty of Growing Above Ground

Raised beds work best with ample drainage. Although you can convert water troughs, etc into raised beds by drilling a whole lot of holes and lining the bottom with horticultural charcoal and pebbles to increase drainage, bottomless raised beds work better. Before installing a raised bed in lawn areas, remove the sod from the footprint plus at least 6 inches along all sides. Also remove any “energetic” nearby plants with running root systems. Then position your raised bed, making sure it is level, and mound up soil around the base. Now fill it up with Coast of Maine Top Soil as a base layer (one third of the raised bed depth works well) plus Castine Blend Organic & Natural Raised Bed Mix. Ideally, you should fill your raised bed with soil a few weeks prior to planting, and water the soil to make sure the soil settles. Add additional soil if necessary before planting. When planting, firm the soil around the root system, and water the plants immediately.

Above and Beyond with Raised Beds

Why are raised beds so wonderful for veggies? For a whole lot of reasons including the fact that soil in a raised bed tends to warm up more rapidly than in-ground beds. Raised beds are easily tended, tall versions can minimize bending over, and filling your raised bed with great soil turns out crops like you wouldn’t believe. Rather than planting in rows, consider utilizing the space wisely by planting in blocks. Because the soil is full of muscle, you can plant crop after crop, maximizing the growing space. If you plant several crops in succession, top dressing with Coast of Maine Quoddy Blend Lobster Compost or Schoodic Blend Organic Composted Manure will maintain ample fertility to pump out the produce.

Although raised beds are famed for growing vegetables, that’s just the beginning. Want flowers galore? You can create a bouquet-in-a-box with a raised bed. Really, the display is like a color chorus. Choose a color theme, just like you would make a flower arrangement, and combine fillers as well as star attractions in your bed. Plant cheek-to-jowl to minimize weeding chores. And go ahead, let the bounty spill over the sides—with healthy soil you’ve given the plants enough oomph underground to support lots of athletics. Feel free to put in multiple crops of ammi or scabiosa or any of the flower crops that need replenishing halfway through the summer.

Here’s an idea: Are you starting a perennial crop like asparagus in your raised beds? While that crop is revving up to full production, plant the beds with a side crop of flowers between rows. You’ll be providing pure heaven for pollinators while enjoying food for your soul as well. Just think of all the bouquets that will be sitting on your dinner table while you’re feasting…

 

 


Written by award winning author, Tovah Martin.  Photos also taken by Tovah Martin.  Find her books and more information on her website: tovahmartin.com.

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