If the attention being heaped on them by the television gardening pundits is a reliable barometer, raised vegetable gardens are enjoying something of a renaissance. For many veteran gardeners, though, they have never really been out of fashion. And with good reason: there are some major advantages around raised gardens, and they can significantly increase your vegetable yield. How?
1. Improved Drainage
It’s pretty self-evident that plants need water, but many species react badly to having what seasoned gardeners call “wet feet”. Being waterlogged interferes with normal plant respiration and can cause numerous diseases. In raised gardens, water filters down to the lowest levels of the soil, protecting roots from an excess of moisture.
2. Protection from Pets, Pests and People
The frames around raised gardens won’t, of course, deter every insect or prevent visits from small animals. But they will certainly prevent humans and larger pets from accidentally trampling the soil and plants, and they might well head off a few insects. This should minimise damage to plants and prevent the soil from becoming overly compacted, a condition which hinders aeration. From a practical point of view, it’s easier to hand-pick the odd pest from a raised garden than from a standard bed.
3. Easily Adapted
There are two sides to this benefit. Firstly, if you feel the need to adjust the soil, it is much easier to accomplish when you are dealing with a discrete, closely defined area. Secondly, you can multiply this effect across several raised garden units in your grounds, modifying the soil in each one to provide optimal growing conditions for different plants.
4. Halts Root Intrusion and Weeds
If there are trees on your grounds, the roots can grow towards your vegetable plots, effectively competing with them for the minerals and nutrients in the soil. Since roots largely grow downwards, they are less likely to interfere with plants in raised gardens, helping to maintain healthy yields. On a related point, since vegetables growing in raised gardens are typically more tightly planted, there is less space for weeds to take up residence, again supporting increased yields. The occasional intruder can, in turn, be relatively easily removed.
5. Longer Growing Season
Raised ground warms up and thaws earlier, permitting you to plant seeds earlier in the year, which can be crucial for vegetables which thrive in colder conditions. By the same token, it is a comparatively simple matter to attach hoop covers or cloches to raised garden frames to prolong the growing season for other plants.
Should you decide that your vegetables need different conditions – more sunlight, for example – you can move the frame and contents of a raised garden without too much fuss. In fact, if you have installed a mesh beneath the garden, you might manage to move it effectively in one piece. Optimising growing conditions as required should increase your yields.
Finally – and this isn’t strictly a feature which will dramatically increase your vegetable yields – the convenience of raised gardens can add to the pleasure of cultivating your crop and, when problems like the odd pest are so readily solved, it will help you to keep on top of the jobs which you need to carry out for a successful year’s gardening.