When space is limited, such as on a balcony or terrace, planting in raised beds is an interesting solution to grow a few plants. Raised on the ground or suspended to create beautiful cascades of flowers, the raised beds always ensure the show.
Why make a vegetable garden in a raised bed?
Indeed, why not directly make a vegetable garden in the ground or even a vegetable patch? Well there can be several reasons:
1. A space constraint
Not everyone is lucky enough to have a plot of land, but you can have a balcony, an entrance, a parking space, etc… So no excuse, even with a small corner, you can make a mini balcony garden.
2. Easy to prepare
We’ll see, it’s very easy to set up. And perfect with children. And no more weed worries!
3. Growing vegetables indoors
We will talk about raised beds but also about simple “pots”. And what could be nicer than having aromatic herbs or even a cherry tomato plant indoors. It will be able to keep your Yuka company!
4. Put green in “concrete” places
If you have a parking space or a hard (rocky) area at home, why not put raised beds in it?
5. Last minute additions!
It can happen that we have some plants left but no more place to plant them. Depending on the land, it is not always possible or simple to add a “hole” to put the last vegetables. A ground in full ground is not prepared at the last moment. On the other hand, a raised bed will do the job, quickly and well.
6. Vegetables that can be moved…
This will make it possible to move these pots (more complicated for a raised bed). If you like to change the decor often, it’s perfect! Or simply to put them in a safe place.
Exposure, location and watering
- Be aware that the best exposure for potted plants is half shade to full sun, with a south-east, south-west or west orientation.
- Avoid exposure beyond 7 hours a day, or your plants will suffer from dehydration.
- Choose large raised beds: the larger the volume of soil, the more beautiful your plantings will be.
- Check before filling it that your raised bed has holes:
- water drainage is fundamental ;
- place a flat stone on each of these holes to avoid its obstruction by the earth.
- Before planting them, plan the future size of your plantations:
- 2 to 3 plants per raised bed of 15 inches on average for the flowers;
- vegetables, on the other hand (especially cucumbers, zucchini and other cucurbits) require more space;
- each plantation must be able to develop without disturbing its neighbor.
- Monitor your plantations regularly:
- don’t forget to water ;
- never in full sun, but at the beginning or end of the day;
- suppress weeds.
- Fix your raised beds to prevent them from falling!
How to plant in a raised bed?
Whatever the material chosen for your raised bed (iron, terracotta, plastic, stone, concrete…), drain holes must be present at the bottom of the container. If they do not exist, they will have to be drilled.
Place flat pebbles on these holes to prevent the substrate from escaping and then pour a layer of clay balls or pebbles to ensure good drainage, so that water does not stagnate at the roots ;
- Choose a very good commercial potting soil and add compost and a little crushed horn.
- Pour a layer of this mixture on the draining bed and install your plants by respecting a good planting distance ;
- The collar of the plants should be about 1 inch from the top of the pot;
- Fill the remaining interstices with the mixture and compact the whole surface well;
- Water abundantly and add more mixture if necessary.
- Place your raised bed in its final location corresponding to the requirements of the chosen plants.
- Remember to water often and add liquid fertilizer on a regular basis.
How to fill a raised bed?
1. Make a raised bed in Lasagna
No, we didn’t go to the cooking class. We’re talking about lasagna, in the sense of layers of carbonaceous and then nitrogenous materials. A bit like compost.
This method will allow us to reproduce a “mini compost” in our raised bed. It will allow a contribution of nitrogen and also a reserve of water at the bottom. There is however a drawback: we will have to wait a week or two before planting anything. Indeed, there is a risk to see “burning” the roots of these plants a little fragile because the temperature will rise.
How to make:
- I place soil at the bottom, it is rich in clay at home and will allow for better water retention.
- Then I will put straw.
- Then some lawn mowing or any other “green” waste.
- I sprinkle and pack a little
- Depending on the height of the raised bed, I can put back a layer: straw then grass.
- Apart from that, I prepare a mixture of potting soil and soil from my garden.
- Then I add this mixture on top.
- The whole thing is covered with straw to keep the humidity at a minimum.
2. Make a raised bed in a classic way
- If you have straw and a little clay soil, put some in the bottom
- Fill the garden pot with soil and earth
- You can enrich it with compost.
- Finish by mulching the tray.
Maintaining a raised bed
Mulching can be done with dry grass or garden waste. It is best to use straw if you have some on hand. It will keep the soil moist longer.
Above-ground crops require regular watering. It is not necessary to water every day, however, as the amount of water required will depend on the crop.
An alternative method is to use earthenware pots that are buried and filled with water. These will provide a reserve of moisture in the raised bed. This is because the water will flow through the micropores of the clay for a very long time.
A raised bed has the advantage of simply allowing the technique of direct composting.
Personally, I put my waste in a raised bed in front of the house, under the straw, so that it remains invisible.
They will decompose and turn into nitrogen to enrich the soil of the raised bed.
Often suspended on the street side on a balcony, the raised bed must be firmly fixed so as not to cause an accident in case of a gust of wind. In this case, a light material will be chosen, always for safety reasons. Keep raised beds made of concrete or terracotta on the ground so that they do not injure anyone by falling.
A raised bed is by definition a container that is longer than it is wide, so it is possible to install several plants side by side. This specificity therefore implies a choice of plants requiring similar growing conditions, especially in terms of watering and exposure. It is out of the question, for example, to install cactus and impatiens together because these plants require opposite care. The result would very quickly be catastrophic!
Another parameter to be taken into account: the low volume of substrate for an often too large number of plants. Always keep in mind to install your plants at a reasonable distance so that they can grow and develop correctly without competing too much.