Most beginning gardeners I talk with plan to grow their vegetables in raised beds — and for good reason! Those of us who have been raised bed gardening for years testify to how much we enjoy it! Better harvests, less weeding, sharp aesthetics — what’s not to love?
But as in any venture, there are mistakes to be made. The problem with mistakes with raised bed gardening is many times they aren’t easily corrected. I know this from experience!
From my own experience and from the experiences of others, I’ve compiled a list of 7 common mistakes in raised bed gardening. If you’re planning a garden for the first time or adding to your existing beds, this will help you avoid many of the mistakes I and others have made. And if you’re already gardening in raised beds but are seeing lackluster results, you may find some reasons why here.
If you don’t have time to listen today, skim the basics below and come back to listen to the full episode later.
7 Common Raised Bed Gardening Mistakes
1. Raised Beds are too wide.
Raised beds should never be more than 4 feet wide, but in certain circumstances, they should be even smaller than that.
2. Raised Beds are too close together.
You must have enough room to work between the beds comfortably — two to three feet at least.
3. Pathways grow up with weeds and grass.
The last thing you want to do is weed your pathways. Instead, either make plans to mow between them or place a barrier down before the weeds and grass emerge for the season.
4. You don’t plan for irrigation.
Unless you want to hand-water your raised beds (and you might), plan to use soaker hoses or a drip system.
5. Wood is Unsafe.
Though considerable debate exists on the safety of certain pressure-treated wood for use in raised beds, definitely don’t use pressure-treated wood manufactured prior to 2003, and don’t use old railway ties. More info here.
6. Improper soil is used.
Potting soil isn’t the best type of soil to fill a raised bed. Instead, use a combination of native or garden soil and organic material.
7. You forget to mulch.
Though weed pressure is usually less in raised beds, it isn’t non-existent. Mulch will dramatically reduce your weeding time. But more importantly, it will regulate the soil temperature and retain moisture — both critical needs of raised beds in the hot summer.
Hopefully by avoiding these 7 mistakes you will be on your way to an enjoyable raised bed gardening experience with abundant harvests!
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