Why grow herbs and vegies in a raised garden bed?
Raised garden beds are a brilliant way to grow edibles. Great soil is key to growing herbs and vegies, so if your soil is rock-hard clay or pure sand, a raised garden bed filled with top-notch soil makes perfect sense. It’s also a life-saver if you have a bad back and makes it much harder for pets and wildlife to get at your crop. Plus, there’s no need for walking on a raised bed, so soil won’t be compacted over time, which equals better drainage. With the addition of a garden bed cover, you can even grow your favourite herbs and vegies year round.
Choosing your raised garden bed size
The ideal width of a raised garden bed for growing edibles is around 1.2 to 1.3 metres. This lets you easily reach into the centre of the bed to plant, harvest and dig, without having to step on the soil.
Location, location, location
From concrete to grass, you can place your raised garden bed on top of virtually any surface. It’s always best to prepare the ground below by removing weeds. To further weed-proof your raised garden bed, you can also add a layer of between 12 and 20 sheets of newspaper.
Almost all herbs and vegies love six to eight hours of sunlight daily, so find a spot that enjoys plenty of sunshine. As herbs and vegies need regular watering (they do best in soil that is consistently moist, neither sodden nor bone dry) it’s wise to choose a spot where you can access water easily.
Edibles that can be grown with less than a full day's sunshine include beetroot, carrots, chervil, chives, coriander, leek, mint, onion, parsley, rocket, silverbeet, spinach, spring onion and tarragon.
Filling your raised garden bed
Herbs and vegies need at least 30 to 40 centimetres of nutrient-rich soil to thrive (see below for details on soil quality). To ensure the rim of your raised garden bed isn’t creating shade, fill it up to 10 centimetres from the rim, allowing space for mulch on top.
If your bed is deeper than 40 centimetres, you can fill the base up with sand, crushed sandstone or a sub-planter mix (this is a mix of coarse bark, ash and sand).
Herbs and vegies love rich, fertile soil, so the more organic material, the better.
You can buy a ready-made herb and vegie mix, which will contain all the nutrients your herbs and vegies need. If planning to use existing soil from your garden, add compost and enriched cow or chicken manure. These are the magic ingredients when it comes to growing herbs and vegies. As always, make sure you read packet instructions for recommended amounts to add.
Exceptions to the rule of providing ‘rich, fertile soil’ are root crops such as parsnips, carrots and potatoes, which don’t like their roots in contact with too much fertiliser.
Dig the soil over as thoroughly as you can, down to a depth of about 30 centimetres. Break up any clumps of soil. The end result should be fine, light, crumbly soil. Lastly, rake the soil smooth and level it out.
Laying out your plants
Avoid gluts by planting small amounts of each edible, leaving some of the patch bare, then do another planting in three to four weeks. This will spread your crops out so you don’t get everything in one hit.
Give plants room to spread out and grow to full size, following spacing directions on the label.
One mistake gardeners often make is planting tall-growing edibles (such as silverbeet) in the front of the garden bed, which casts a shadow over the lower-growers behind. Make sure you read the labels before planting.
What to plant and when?
Top five herbs and vegies for every season
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We have a great range of garden beds instore, to suit any space. Made from anti-rust powder-coated steel, they're easy to install, so you can have edibles planted the same day and be harvesting in weeks!
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