Garden Preparation – Mountaineer Echo

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David Ezel

Spring is here. Have you thought about creating a garden? What type of garden would you consider? Traditional, raised, container or other flower bed. There are several things to consider when choosing a type of garden. Each type of garden has its pros and cons.

Raised beds can range from mounded ground between ditches to taller, more sophisticated raised beds surrounded by redwood or other materials. Although raised beds are smaller and produce less, they can make better use of limited space and have many other advantages over traditional gardens for older or disabled gardeners and those with difficult soil issues.

Raised beds drain better than traditional gardens. Their soil warms up earlier in the spring so gardeners can plant earlier. A raised bed also solves the problems of rocky soil that is difficult to till or heavy clay soil or compacted soil. Horticulturists at the University of California, Davis say half of a raised bed can be regular soil and the other half organic matter or compost. Less organic matter is needed if good quality loam topsoil is available. Loam is soil containing clay, silt, and sand in roughly equal amounts. Because gardeners don’t step on a raised bed, the soil is less likely to compact.

Build a raised garden bed if your soil is heavy or poorly drained. A raised garden should be 2 to 3 feet above the surrounding ground and no wider than 4 feet. It can be as narrow as 1 foot if space is limited. Sides and ends are usually 2 inches by 12 inches. Redwood is the wood of choice due to its high resistance to insects and rot. However, since redwood may not be as readily available in this region, cedar is a good choice and more readily available.

The higher level and limited width of raised beds make planting, weeding and other tasks easier than traditional gardens for disabled and elderly gardeners with back pain. You can usually grow a raised bed with hand tools.

A raised garden bed can limit the type and number of plants you can grow, although in some cases you can plant them closer together. It can be more difficult to grow plants that climb or spread. A gardener needs tools and carpentry skills to build a raised bed. Next week we will discuss the pros and cons of traditional gardens.

The Crooked Creek Conservation District is here to help in any way possible. We have equipment to rent and items to buy. You can find out about the programs we offer that could help you achieve your goals in your field. Come see us at 302 East Fourth Street in Yellville, AR., or call us at 870-449-6356.

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