The Ultimate Guide To Gardening in a Raised Garden Bed- by Benson

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The Ultimate Guide To Gardening in a Raised Garden Bed - by Benson - Swedish Design

The Ultimate Guide To Gardening in a Raised Garden Bed

Spring is here! And with it comes the gardening season, but where should we plant this year's seeds and seedlings?

I myself will be using raised beds, specifically pallet collars, to grow my flowers and vegetables this year because they provide organized, efficient, and, above all, beautiful garden space. There's something about the simplicity of a pallet collar that makes it so charming. What makes raised garden beds great for gardening is their adaptability and the ability to place them almost anywhere. Do you want to plant sun-loving plants? Place it in a sunny spot. Or perhaps plants that prefer shade? Then you can place it in a shadier area. The possibilities are truly endless. And you can customize it for your plants with all sorts of soil and nutrient combinations. In this guide, we'll go through some common questions about gardening in pallet collars to help you have a fantastic gardening experience.

How do I get started?

When starting your pallet collar garden, it's best to first choose what you want to grow in it. Most plants thrive very well in pallet collars since it's essentially a small enclosed land spot you're creating. If you choose plants that like a bit more depth, you can stack another pallet collar on top of your first one.

Once you've chosen your plants, it's time to decide where you want to place your pallet collar, which varies depending on what you're planting. Some plants prefer sun, so you'll place the collar in a sunny location, while others prefer shade, and then you'll place the collar in a shady spot. Also, try to choose a location that is easily accessible so that you can reach the entire pallet collar easily. After that, it's just a matter of assembling your collar. Remember to use cardboard or cloth at the bottom to separate your gardening from the ground below. Then you can fill it with soil and compost. I like to use gardening soil for everything, but if you're planning to have only flowers in your pallet collar, you can use flower soil. My personal tip is to use crushed mussel shells instead of clay balls if you plan to use them. Otherwise, these shells are usually just thrown away when you're done with them, and if you use them instead of clay balls, you've got a great recycling solution for them. Just remember to rinse them clean first.
It's a good idea to water the soil before planting, to help create a nice, moist enviroment for the seeds. Now your pallet collar is ready for planting!

What plants thrive best in raised beds?

"What to grow in your raised bed" is a great question, and the answer is simply: it depends. A raised bed is like a small, contained garden plot, and what you want to grow in it depends on where you'll place it and what you actually want to have in it. But deciding what you want can be difficult when there are so many choices, so here are some suggestions for crops that thrive very well in raised beds.

  • Salad. There's something special about homegrown salad, it's crisper, fresher, and simply tastier than the salad you find in the store. There are also so many different types of salad to choose from. Some of my favorites to plant are arugula, mesclun mix, oak leaf lettuce, and romaine lettuce, and all of these are really perfect for growing in raised beds.
  • Herbs. I absolutely love having my own herb garden at home, with all sorts of imaginable herbs ready to be picked and used when needed, or frozen for winter. And herbs also thrive well in raised beds, especially if you use a low raised bed with just one "level." There are a multitude of herbs you can plant, and some of my favorites are all kinds of basil, thyme, rosemary, dill, and cilantro. Imagine the scent your raised bed will give off if you choose to use it as an herb garden, absolutely fantastic.
  • Tomatoes. Not all tomato varieties are suitable for raised beds, but bush and cherry tomatoes are definitely perfect for smaller growing areas. It's really only the really large tomato plants that don't thrive so well in raised beds, as they need something to climb on.
  • Carrots. If you're planning to have a slightly taller raised bed to plant in, with two or more levels, carrots can really be something to consider. Carrots are also perfect for intercropping with other plants that grow tall, as they take up space on the ground that weeds would otherwise occupy.

What can I intercrop in my raised garden bed? 

There are so many crops that thrive in a raised bed, and some of them also thrive together, here's a few examples:

  • Tomato and Basil. Imagine having a ready-made caprese right in your raised bed. Well, except for the mozzarella, of course. Tomatoes and basil not only taste great together, but they also grow well with each other. Tomatoes like to grow tall, while basil is a low-growing herb, so they don't compete with each other but rather help each other become stronger, nice, isn't it?
  • Marigold and Tomatoes. It's not just herbaceous plants that tomatoes get along with; marigolds are also perfect companions for your tomatoes. Marigolds don't grow particularly tall, but they attract bees and butterflies, which helps with tomato pollination.
  • Squash and Beans. Squash or similar plants like to have a little extra nitrogen in the soil, which beans are happy to provide. Squash plants grow close to the ground, while beans like to climb high and tall, so they don't compete with each other for space. The low-growing squash also takes up the space on the ground that weeds would otherwise try to occupy, so interplanting squash and beans is really a great combo!
  • Onion with Lettuce. We can probably all agree that onions don't smell very pleasant, and insects and other pests agree with that too. Therefore, it's an excellent idea to intercrop onions and lettuce since lettuce usually has a high chance of being attacked by pests.
  • Multifloral flowers and vegetables. All vegetables that require pollination really benefit from a little help during the planting season, and multifloral flowers really help with this. By attracting bees and butterflies, these flowers can truly give you a fantastic vegetable harvest.

As a general rule, you want to intercrop either different varieties of the same crop or different crops that don't compete for space. For example, tomato plants grow quite tall, so planting a low-growing crop alongside them yields good results. An exception to this might be corn and cucumber; both grow vertically, but cucumbers prefer to climb against a wall or similar support, while corn grows straight upward without a wall as support. Corn also helps provide shade for the cucumber, which it often prefers.

What should I avoid planting in my raised garden bed?

Most things can be grown in a raised bed, however, I have a couple of tips on things you might not want to plant in the bed, for various reasons.
Mint is at the top of my list. I remember the first time I was going to plant mint, I had received a couple of plants from a colleague, and they both looked and smelled fantastic. That year, I had a slightly larger balcony box where I planned to plant a nice little herb garden. I sowed basil, oregano, and thyme seeds together with the mint in that box. I took care of my little box, watering and nourishing it all spring, only to notice sometime in July that it looked very uniform. It was just mint. The whole box. Nothing but mint. A little disappointed, I called my mom and asked how this could happen, and got the answer that mint always takes over the entire space you plant it in. It also didn't help that mint, like many other herbs, is a perennial, so the roots survived until the following year. So for me, it was just a matter of throwing away the whole plant. I initially thought about putting it in the compost, but then I would have gotten another mint box instead of compost.
In other words, you shouldn't plant mint in a raised bed unless you plan to have a raised bed that consists only of mint.
For the same reason, I can also recommend not planting lemon balm or lovage in a raised bed because all these plants develop quite extensive root systems quickly and steal all the nutrients, thus taking over the entire raised bed before the other varieties you want to plant have a chance to establish themselves.
You should also avoid certain perennial plants, such as rhubarb, as they need more depth to develop their strong and deep roots. These thrive better in open ground or an open land plot.
Plants with super-deep root systems are also not recommended, as you can't achieve that depth in a raised bed, and they can damage the soil underneath as they break through.
Some plants need something to climb on, such as cucumbers. If you're going to have your raised bed against a wall or with a trellis behind it, it works great to plant these in a raised bed. However, if your raised bed is going to be freestanding or in the middle of the lawn, climbing plants are not suitable.
There are also plants that "lock" your raised bed in place, in the sense that you can't move them without damaging or destroying the plant. Asparagus is one of these plants. If you grow asparagus in a raised bed, it's committed to asparagus for several years, as it takes quite a long time for the plant to develop a stable enough root system to be moved. You also can't harvest asparagus in the first two years after planting; it's only in the third year that you can expect a plentiful asparagus harvest. If you're okay with waiting a bit for your asparagus, though, a raised bed is one of the best spaces you can plant it in. Perfect height, well-drained, and easy to mix sand into the soil. You simply have to weigh whether you want to plant something new every year or if you want a stable perennial plant.

How do I care for the plants in my raised bed?

Taking care of your raised bed garden isn't particularly difficult, but it can be a bit time-consuming, and there are some things you need to keep an eye on.
To begin with, you should water often for most crops, preferably in the morning or mid-morning.
By watering in the morning, you give the water more time to penetrate properly into the soil, and this can preferably be done with a spray pistol or a watering can with a broad head. If you water around noon or in the afternoon, the water will instead evaporate, not giving your plants the moisture they need. It's also possible to water in the evening, but then make sure to check the weather forecast for the night; you don't want to accidentally cause frost damage to your plants.
Then there's the most common problem we can see in our gardens: weeds. Planting companion plants that help against weeds is a good idea, but you still need to keep an eye out to give your plants all the nutrients and sunlight they need.
Another attack you need to protect your plants from is pests and other critters. One thing you can use is insect netting or row covers to keep away potential insects and even keep small birds away. Otherwise, it may be enough to keep an eye out for insects and to rinse off your plants when you water them. You can also remove them by hand if there are only a few on the leaves of your plants.
Feel free to add extra compost and nutrients throughout the growing season, once a month usually suffices, unless you notice that the plants are growing poorly, in which case it may be good to do this more often.
When next spring comes around, it's worth considering changing out any non perennial plants, and filling your raised bed with new soil, since your plants from last year probably took a lot of nutrients from the old soil. You can also choose to plant crops that don't require as many nutrients as other, for example wildflowers.

A few closing tips to concider:

  • Rotate your crops each season unless you're using perennial plants.
  • Explore which different crops thrive together and companion plant.
  • Place newspaper or cardboard at the bottom of your raised bed to protect the soil from roots and unnecessary moisture.
  • Mussel shells are a perfect substitute for clay pellets and provide excellent drainage.
  • Water frequently without overwatering; aim for moist but not soggy soil.
  • Companion plant species with similar sun requirements to avoid planting two plants with drastically different needs in the same raised bed.

We hope this guide has inspired you to make the most of your raised garden bed this year. Good luck and happy planting!

 

 

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