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May 18, 2014

Raised-bed gardening workshop offered

Most everyone I speak with has worked in, or at least seen, a row garden. These are the standard gardens in which plants are grown in well-defined rows with paths left between to allow access for cultivating and harvesting.

While row gardens have been the standard for centuries, planting a garden in which so much area is worked up only to remain unused is inefficient, especially where space is limited. I believe there’s a better way. 

Raised-bed gardens are designed for walking around, not in. A properly planned raised-bed will be just wide enough to allow a gardener to easily reach to the center of the bed while working from the sides. This allows more plants to be grown in a smaller area, resulting in more production per square foot. In fact, by some estimates, yields can be two to three times as much in a raised-bed garden than in a standard garden of equal size.

Staying out of the bed also means gardeners need not worry about soil compaction, which can reduce crop yields by as much as 50 percent. (Water, air, and roots all have difficulty moving through soil that has been compressed by tractors, tillers or human feet.) And access areas between raised beds may be left in sod, mulched or covered with crushed stone, patio stone or brick so there’s no need to worry about muddy feet.

Raised beds also make it possible to turn otherwise unusable wet or compacted sites into areas of fertile, well-drained soil. In fact, gardeners can produce an abundance of nourishing, flavorful vegetables and vigorous flowers in areas one might never have thought possible.

And raised-bed terracing can turn non-productive hillsides into bountiful, aesthetically pleasing garden sites. It’s even possible to garden on top of pavement or on a patio.

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