Garden Beds

Now that you have selected your garden site on your property,
you will need to decide what structure & design you will have. Sometimes the design is defined by the boundaries of the existing yard actually making it easier to decide.

Fences, patios, existing ornamental gardens will restrict the flow
of the garden & how large it can be.

When placing veggie plants among your ornamentals, consider
the look of the entire plant.

Some veggie plants are attractive and others, quite frankly, are not! They may start out looking great, but not so at the end of their cycle. Take that in consideration when placing veggies among ornamentals.

Rows vs. Beds

Rows are just sections measured out 3-4 ft. wide & any length.

Usually you can just remove the grass & weeds, till deeply, 6-12 inches. Incorporate any amendments & fertilizer when tilling.

Paths between rows should be 3-4 feet wide.

More highly recommended would be beds. You can make beds, sections made into any shape.

Beds fit well into smaller established yards, just find pockets of space in the sun.

A raised bed with a border edging 6-12 inches high and filled with topsoil & amendments gives a gardener a lot of control over the contents of the soil.

Here’s a list of advantages of a raised bed:

  • Minimum soil compaction
  • Better water drainage
  • You control the soil & amendments
  • Need less tilling less compaction
  • Greater root development & yields
  • Allow earlier & later planting because raised beds heat up quicker, cool down slower
  • Saves space, allows for narrow paths

A simple raised bed can be made by raking soil from the paths, pulling into the bed as you go along the path to form a mound. You can then amend the soil as needed.

If using your native soil in the raised bed, know your type of soil so you can add the correct amendments to achieve a well-balanced loamy soil.

For Sandy soil: Add compost, manure & peat moss

For Clay soil: Add sand, perlite, & organic materials

Edging the bed is recommended as the edge of the soil in the bed is prone to drying out.

An ideal raised bed would be 12-16 inches high with edging wide enough to allow you to sit down as you tend the bed.

You may also purchase top soil by the truckload, make sure that you are getting a nice loamy soil.

If you till the soil beneath the raised bed first, and fill with purchased soil & amendments, it will be just like double digging.

Double dig your rows or beds. Double digging is back-breaking work because you till the soil to a depth 12-24 inches deep.

If you can survive, it will be worth it, as many veggie plants will send out a long tap root, having loose deep soil helps them achieve that.

Also, if space is minimal, double digging will allow you to practice intensive gardening, basically growing plants much closer then recommended, due to superior soil.

  1. Start at the beginning of the row or bed, using a spade or shovel, dig out a trench the width of the bed, placing topsoil onto a tarp nearby, 6-12 inches deep.
  2. Next, loosen up the subsoil in that trench 6-12 inches.
  3. Then, dig another trench right next to the first one, removing the topsoil and putting it into the first trench.
  4. Loosen up the subsoil on the second trench and continue with the third trench, and so on.
  5. When you get to the last trench, fill it with the topsoil on the trap.

Edging for your beds can be made from many creative materials:

  • Concrete or rock are the most durable pavers and come in many shapes and colors.
  • Bricks, more expensive than pavers
  • Wood planks, look for salvage wood, (do not use treated wood near food crops)
  • Recycled wine bottles
  • Wood logs ( they will decompose over time & need replacement)

Check out our Projects Page to learn how to build a raised bed from wine bottles.