Everything You Ever Want to Know About Raised Bed Gardening

If you’ve ever contemplated gardening in a raised bed, writer Tara Nolan has just the book for you. Raised Bed Revolution: Build It, Fill It, Plant It… Garden Anywhere (Cool Springs Press, May 2016) tells you how to add raised beds to any space—from a tiny patio or balcony to a suburban backyard. It includes:

  • project plans and step-by-step instruction to build a variety of raised beds;
  • easy ideas, from recycling to kits, for those who don’t consider themselves handy;
  • inspirational photos and anecdotes about green thumbs who have built their own raised beds;
  • the benefits of growing edibles in raised beds, such as enjoying an earlier or later growing season, choosing the perfect soil blend, accessibility and more;
  • why combining edibles and ornamentals in your raised beds can boost your yield.

Tara recommends combining edibles and ornamentals in raised beds, not only to attract valuable pollinators, but also for such practical reasons as pest control.

“Raised beds aren’t a new invention, but they have certainly become more prevalent with the movement to grow fresh produce. And, they’ve helped to modernize the way we garden,” says Tara, a freelance writer, editor, digital consultant and co-founder of SavvyGardening.com.

Raised beds can be made in all shapes and styles—rectangles, squares, triangles and circles; ankle- and waist-height; wooden and stone construction. They can be welded from steel, aging to a nice rust-coloured patina over time, or made from corrugated sheets of steel inset in a wood frame.

“Creative DIYers are rescuing materials from scrapheaps, antique markets, behind sheds and underneath decks to upcycle into raised beds. Commonly found items, such as washbasins, stock tanks and recycling bins, are getting a new lease on life as ready-made gardens.”

You don’t need a conventional yard to grow a row of tomatoes. Because you’re filling raised beds with your own mix of fresh, nutrient-rich soil, they can sit on gravel, pavement, poor soil, roof tops—pretty much anywhere! Often the front yard becomes the prime candidate for a raised bed today because it has the best growing conditions—lots of hot sun!

“Rooftops, balconies and teeny, tiny patios have all become fair game when it comes to locations for growing your own food. There are all sorts of compact raised beds that can be placed out of the way in a sunny corner. Some even have self-watering systems in place, so they require even less maintenance.”

Vertical gardening has become a popular concept enabling green thumbs to grow up where there is limited space. Various wall contraptions that provide space to grow fresh greens, edible blooms and herbs are basically micro-sized versions of raised beds setup vertically rather than horizontally to take advantage of a sunny locale.

Tara points out that the popularity of growing edibles has resulted in more interesting varieties of plants becoming readily available. And, an increasing selection of patio plants allows those with minuscule spaces to grow everything from tomatoes to mini melons. “The trick for small-space gardening is to look for patio varieties of plants that won’t take over a space. Look for interesting edibles, such as mini-melons, cucumbers, and peppers. These plants are bred to be smaller, but there will be a greater concentration of fruit and veggies on a more compact plant. Also, train your harvest to reach towards the sky. Beans, peas, cucumbers and any other vining, climbing edibles can be trained up a trellis, obelisk, or other plant support. It’s a great way to maximize space and reap a sizable harvest. And there are all sorts of irrigation options.”

This book will inspire you with practical tips and easy-to-follow project plans to help you create your own raised beds.