A question was asked about raised beds . . how tall should they be? I don’t think there’s any right or wrong answer . . however tall you want them to be is fine.
Here’s why ours are short . . probably 8″ tall.
First, I only want them to be a “different” spot in the garden. Raised beds mean “Stay Out!” to Vince when he’s in there pulling weeds or tilling. Mostly I use raised beds for perennials – strawberries, asparagus, herbs. That way, Vince is not having to worry about what is a weed, which area to till, which area he can drive through with the RTV or tractor.
The taller you make them, the easier it’s going to be to keep weeds out of them. Reaching down to the ground or squatting to pull weeds is not fun after a few hours of work.
The concerns I have about taller raised beds are these:
- My beds are 8′ x 8′. They can be any size you want them to be. Just be sure you can reach across them to plant, pick veggies, or pull weeds. I would not want to have to use a step stool or ladder to climb up into the raised beds.
- Here, where it’s so dry, even with mulch, the higher the bed, the farther down the water is going away from the roots.
- The higher the beds, the more costly to build. The building materials are costly and filling with soil/compost would be costly.
- I’ve read that no matter how much remediation you do in your soil, the planting matter in raised beds needs to be completely swapped out every 4 or 5 years. I’m not sure I believe that because we don’t have to do that with garden soil but it may have something to do with the concentration in planting and with the amount of minerals/nutrients that drain right out of the taller beds.
- Our asparagus beds are 3 years old now and I’ve asked Vince if he can add another layer of timbers because I’m getting the dirty/mulch higher than the sides so that’s something to consider. Several times a year, I add mulch and that builds up. Each spring, I add whatever compost I’ve accumulated through the year and that adds up also. So, when planning your beds, make sure to allow for “growth” in the height of the soil.
I totally see the benefit of not having to bend over to pull weeds but other than that, I’m not a huge fan of raised beds and if it weren’t for needing to set apart some of my plantings, I wouldn’t have any of them . . but that’s just me.
For anyone with poor soil and trying to figure out a way to garden despite the soil, please read about Ruth Stout’s gardening method. You can Google “Ruth Stout” and get lots more info. I have a couple of friends who are doing this and say they will never go back to traditional gardening. If I could get my hands on some inexpensive hay or straw, I would be real tempted to try it, even though we have excellent soil in the garden.
I’m no expert . . these are just my thoughts on the subject.