How to fit garden beds into your growing space

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By GEOFF MIERS

Raised garden beds are generally compact, can be fitted into a limited space, can be moved with relative ease if moving house and they allow you to create the right conditions for growing.

They are great for people who are renting. They can be ideal for people with bad backs or have some disability restricting their capacity to worked in their loved garden.

The timber raised garden bed pictured was constructed by my daughter Anna from two timber pallets that otherwise would have been scraped. Thus there was little cost involved.

As it turned out the only suitable area to establish a vegetable garden was at the end of the driveway. Subsequently the garden bed is located half on concrete and half on open soil. It doesn’t really matter as the bed is built up above the existing surface level.

Any other areas in the yard are either fully planted or have trees likely to invade the garden or the amount of sunlight is limited. A raised garden bed offered the ideal solution. 

The garden bed measures one metre x 1.50 metres in size and is about 3 cms deep. Vegetables grow best in soil that is 30 to 40 cms deep, 35 cms is thus ideal.

Yates garden box.

The soil formulae I recommend is as follows:- 50 litres of potting mix for vegetables, 50 litres of compost, 25 litres of cow manure and 300 grams of organic fertilizer pellets. Blend this all together and then add 125 litres of fresh top soil from your local landscape supplier.

I recommend you use fresh “top soil” from your local landscape supplier as this soil generally has a pH of around 6.5. Vegetables prefer a soil that is slightly acidic and 6.5pH is just that.

For the home made timber raised garden bed as illustrated you will need four bags of potting mix, 4 bags of compost, 2 bags of cow manure, 600-750 grams of organic fertilizer and approximately 250 to 300 litres of top soil (the equivalent of 0.25 to 0.3 tonnes of top soil).

Once this has all been blended and transferred into the raised bed it should be watered down and will be ready for you to plant it out.

I then like to sprinkle another 150 grams of complete organic fertilizer on the surface prior to planting. Grow Better is my preferred organic fertilizer as it is a blend of blood & bone, chicken manure and seaweed extract.

By using the right materials as detailed above you will be creating the most absolutely delicious soil medium to grow your vegetables in.

There are numerous raised garden bed frames that are available commercially in all shapes and sizes.

Some are up to 800 cms deep and are ideal for people with a bad back or people in wheel chairs for example. Of course you will need more than double the quantities as illustrated above for a deeper raised garden bed that can be up to 800 cms deep.

Building a frame over a small raised garden bed will allow you to stretch over the frame mosquito mesh of something similar to keep out a range of common garden pests like grasshoppers that have been a real problem over the past few years.

Mosquito netting will also keep out moths and butterflies and stop them laying eggs with subsequently your garden being eaten out by hungry, ravenous caterpillars. Birds will also be kept at bay from particularly eating young seedlings.

A raised garden bed, particularly with a frame over it, is also likely to keep any mischievous pets out of the garden.

Anna’s small raised garden bed of 1 metre x 1.5 metres currently is producing enough salad greens including various loose leaf lettuces, spinach, coriander, rocket and several herbs along with tiny sweet bite tomatoes to pick from daily for one to three people.

Fresh produce daily requiring less than five minutes a day to attend to watering, weeding and any other maintenance issues that need to be addressed.

The soil mix initially had cow manure added along with some Grow Better organic fertilizer. After six weeks and every six weeks there-after the garden should have organic fertilizer added at the rate of 100 grams per square metre to ensure a steady supply of readily available necessary nutrients.

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