There are a lot of beneficial properties that traditional direct dug garden beds cannot typically provide that a raised garden bed can. A raised garden bed can be more beneficial to your plants, to the environment, and more importantly, to you.
So let’s dig in deeper to top benefits to utilizing raised garden beds on your homestead.
Your plant’s roots need to be able to breathe. When your soil is too compacted, the roots do not get the proper air circulation which will not allow them develop properly. Aeration is necessary for the roots to be able to absorb essential nutrients; pockets of air in the soil help hold in the nitrogen which is converted into beneficial nitrates by the soil bacteria, making it available to the plant to feed upon.
You can make your raised beds the traditional way by digging up the ground and supporting the sides with a solid frame. Or just pile up good quality soil, decomposed farmyard manure, and compost within the frames. Either way, it provides the plants with a rich growing media with a loose structure and allows for good air circulation around the roots.
Amending your Soil
Feed that which feeds you. Adding amendments to your soil has never been easier than doing it to a raised garden bed, due to the fact that you will have a potentially smaller area to be able to calculate how much of the amendments you will need. Additionally, because your soil is not compacted you have a far lesser chance of your amendments getting washed away and wasted in areas of the garden that you do not need it.
Raised beds provide good drainage even in heavy rains. This is one reason it has always been popular in tropical areas that get heavy rainfall. The loose texture of the soil allows the water to seep into the bed, preventing quick runoff that would otherwise carry away the fertile topsoil. At the same time, it allows excess water to drain away.
Most plants grow well in moist soil, but many of them hate wet feet. For one thing, too much water around the roots interferes with their breathing. Secondly, constant moisture promotes bacterial and fungal diseases. Water logging can even change the pH of the soil, making it more acidic and less favorable to plants preferring neutral to slightly alkaline soils.
The ideal soil moisture for most plants is around 25%.
They need room to grow. We have already stated that good aeration is important for any plant and its roots; in the same manner, the raised garden beds soil is looser than traditional direct dug beds which allows for your plant’s root system to extend further with less effort than that of a tradition bed.
Plants that are growing in the ground usually have a shallow root system unless the ground is tilled deep before planting. Such plants cannot access the moisture in the lower layers of soil, and are more likely to get dehydrated as soon as the surface moisture evaporates. A well-developed root system anchors the plant and helps it gather water and nutrients from a larger area which is particularly important for vegetables. They have to grow vigorously and produce maximum yield within a short period.
Plant only what you need. In a traditional direct dug garden, you typically sow your seeds in a line and then thin the plants as they grow, this wastes valuable seeds. Utilizing a raised garden bed you will only plant what you need, therefore saving the extra seeds for another year’s cycle and in turn saving you money.
Less risk of soil compaction
Raised bed planting may not prevent your cats and dogs from rolling in the mud and digging up the soil, but there is less chance of people and larger animals casually walking on the beds and tamping down the soil. If the width of the beds is kept at 3-4 feet, you can conduct other gardening chores like fertilizing, weeding and harvesting without stepping on the bed.
Better pest control
Many creepy crawlies find their way into veggie patches by crawling on the ground. At least a few of them may be deterred by the solid frames that surround the beds. If nematodes and other soil parasites are a problem, you may have better protection against them by using a plastic liner at the bottom and sides of the bed. A wire netting at the base of the raised beds may disappoint the pesky rodents that hope to burrow their way into to your beds.
The more the better. The soil in a raised bed can be healthier than that of a direct dug bed for the reasons stated above and more. Because of the sometimes healthier soil, it allows for your plants to grow more vigorously and healthier than what you may typically find in a direct-dug bed. Being able to have a healthier soil due to more precise soil management practices, in turn helps to create healthier plants which then leads to a higher yield of crops during the harvesting seasons.
Utilizing raised beds in your garden is a fantastic way to help feed yourself and your homestead with much less time and work from you. By utilizing a raised bed garden, you will save yourself from at least some of the physical demands of running a homestead; save yourself some money with less watering, waste and achieve better results for yourself and your plants.
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