Dry - Warm - Cool - Pest-free - Productive - Practical ... All Are Possible
MAKING THE BEST USE OF THE BED
Companion planting, successions, vertical growing - a single bed can contain multitudes!
KEEPING IT PRODUCTIVE
You may have room for only one or two beds. The fertility of a raised bed is quickly amendable. Watering is easily managed, whether from a hose, drip line or rain; hand-watering can be specifically applied and it's not wasted on aisleways. The temperature can be controlled and pests kept out. Now the fun intensifies - what and how to plant!
The ends of the boxes may be fitted with trellis material to accommodate vining plants, such as cucumbers or snow peas. A good reference is Derek Fell's Vertical Gardening: Grow Up, Not Out, for More Vegetables and Flowers in Much Less Space
We used galvanized fence panels cut to size as our trellises, easily wired to the end hoop. Available at the local farmers' coop or Tractor Supply, they are exceptionally sturdy and do not rust.
Planting shallow-rooted vegetables next to deep-rooted ones, or heavy feeders with light feeders, means you can closely space your seeds. Some plants enhance the productivity of others; some detract. Fascinating information! With some research, armed with your favorite plants list, you can really pack a single bed full.
A favorite book of ours is now hard to find - Companion Plants and How to Use Them by Helen Philbrick and Richard Gregg, sponsored by the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association, first published in 1966. Some newer publications - Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening by Louise Riotte and The Complete Guide to Companion Planting: Everything You Need to Know to Make Your Garden Successful by Dale Mayer - will provide the answers to planning your raised bed plantings.
Because the plants produce so well under these more controlled circumstances, one needs to plant far less to get more. A single row of filet beans, undamaged by bean beetles, provides plenty for the two of us for at least three weeks. We make successive plantings to keep the harvest coming - a quarter row of radishes, planted every two weeks; a half-row of arugula; three rows of mixed lettuces for cutting. Each bed is a quilt of deliciousness.
With raised beds, watering and weeding are hardly chores. The height of the bed makes weeding easy, and there's no grass to creep in; the mulch and row covers keep the soil from crusting over. You only water the planted area - not the aisleways. With a little planning and innovation, drip-line arrays can be created to fit the beds. And you can do it all without bending over or kneeling. Harvest is easy and rewarding!
NEXT: KEEPING IT PRACTICAL
Vegetables, herbs and strawberries harvested May 29 in zone 6A - Upper South, after a long, cool spring.
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