If you’ve never planted vegetables in raised beds before, I promise that once you do, you’ll be spoiled for the rest of your gardening life. But that’s a risk you might be willing to take. I grow things anywhere and everywhere I can and 9 times out of 10, my veggies do better in the raised beds. Although, there are a few places in my yard where I’ve been planting year after year and the soil has been so well amended that it might as well be a raised bed.
But if your natural soil hasn’t reached that point yet, go for the raised beds. In a new bed I’ll either build a compost sandwich in it or add a bunch of soil from my compost pile along with some purchased composted manure or garden soil. There’s no need to build them to a specific depth. I’ve grown in all different sizes from 6″ – 24″ and they all work equally as well.
The only time you’ll need to take pause is if you’d like to plant some especially long carrots or if you’re growing potatoes. In fact, other than potatoes, I’ve never found a 24″ deep necessary (unless you like the fact that you don’t have to bend down as far).
Some of the benefits of raised bed gardening are:
- Less weeds
- Better water retention in areas that have super-sandy soil
- Better drainage in areas with clay soils
- More growing space
- No soil compaction from human feet
- Warmer soil earlier in the season
- Warmer soil for a longer season
- Soil that has basically a neutral pH unless you add something to change it (because you’re filling it)
- Less soil erosion (especially, if the bed is framed)
Hey, if you can’t pull raised beds off this year, that’s perfectly fine. I definitely don’t want it discourage you from growing food and flowers just because you don’t have raised beds. But they’re fabulously handy.