Raised Bed Roundup: five styles you may or may not have heard of

For now, all of the gardening we do in the backyard is in raised beds.  I love growing in raised beds.

In the front yard, we plant directly in the ground in raised rows, which is nice because it provides more space and the ground tends to stay wet longer, but I will always be partial to my backyard raised beds.  Some benefits of raised bed gardening include:
  • Easier weed control
  • Soil that warms more quickly in the spring and drains better after a long rain
  • Soil that does not get compacted
  • Makes the gardens, and thus the plants, more accessible.
Some down sides include:
  • Can be expensive to build
  • Soil gets very hot in the summer and the water tends to run out
  • As soil continues to compost and breakdown, you may need to add more soil each growing season.  
There are many ways to build and use raised beds.  In this post, I will describe and explain five different methods. 

Logs

If you have access to logs in your area of the country (or trees on your property that you can turn into logs), they can make great edging for a raised bed.  I found a great example over on the blog The Druid’s Garden - http://druidgarden.wordpress.com/2012/09/07/raised-garden-beds-from-salvagedfound-materials/#comments .

Concrete Blocks

To cut down on cost, I’m thinking about installing a couple of raised beds made out of concrete blocks this fall.  It is simple and doesn’t require any tools (i.e. I don’t have to bug my husband to do it.)  If you place the blocks with the open end facing up, you can also plant small herbs in the openings.  I found several great examples over on the website  Wild Ginger Farm - http://www.wildgingerfarm.com/ConcreteBlockRaisedBed.htm  and we did something similar with our children’s garden.  

Wood 

Certainly the most traditional, thus far we have always used wood to build our raised bed.  Check out the post my husband did a while back on building a $30/ 30 minute raised bed. 
My friend Kristi agreed to share a post - http://thismindbeinyou.com/2011/06/how-i-do-my-gardens.html from her blog Let this Mind be in You.  In the pictures and description you can see her raised bed made from wood and rock (and as a bonus, you can learn how she gopher proofed it!)  
Photo used with permission from the blog Let this Mind be in You - http://thismindbeinyou.com/2011/06/how-i-do-my-gardens.html

Lasagna 

I feel like lasagna gardening is getting really popular right now or maybe it has always been popular and I just recently learned about it.  Here is a guest post that I published a while back on the method from my dear friend Lauren of the blog Fancy Nonsense - http://fancynonsense.com/ .  
Over on the blog Raising Dick and Jane, my friend Mary did a post - http://www.raisingdickandjane.blogspot.com/2013/04/easy-spring-gardening-using-lasagna.html?m=1 about their method of lasagna gardening and gives you steps on how to get started. 
Photo used with Permission from the blog Raising Dick and Jane - http://www.raisingdickandjane.blogspot.com/2013/04/easy-spring-gardening-using-lasagna.html?m=1

Also a great post, Susan from the blog Learning and Yearning shares her method - http://learningandyearning.com/2011/04/20/lasagna-gardening/ of lasagna gardening, which she does in home-built, wooden raised beds.

Photo used with Permission from the blog Learning and Yearning - http://learningandyearning.com/2011/04/20/lasagna-gardening/

I’m putting this example under the lasagna gardening method, but honestly, Sergio from The Greenman Project deserves a category of his own.  He calls it the Raised Bed Fortress - http://thegreenmanproject.com/2011/07/enter-fortress/ and uses a lasagna-style gardening method to fill it.  I love it!

Photo used with Permission from The Greenman Project - http://thegreenmanproject.com/2011/07/enter-fortress/

Keyhole

I was recently introduced to this style of raised bed gardening in a facebook group that I belong to and I am fascinated.  It seems that its origins are in impoverished countries where the soil is particularly bad.  The center of the garden is a compost “basket” and the outside is a lasagna-style gardening system.  There is a “keyhole” cutout to make it easy to access the compost basket.  I would love to learn more about this type of raised bed.  I wonder if there are many being used in the states.  Here’s a great explanation from the site Dave’s Garden - http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/3726/ and some great pictures of ones made with unusual materials on the site Keyhole Farms - http://keyholefarms.com/ .
If you want to learn more about raised bed gardening, here are some books to get your started (the last two are very inexpensive ebooks):  
        

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