Raised bed gardens help people of all ages and physical abilities to experience the joys of gardening. Additionally, this can give your family fresh fruits, vegetables, and other produce.
We posted advice earlier this year on getting started in “containerized” raised bed gardening, utilizing inexpensive materials, easy construction techniques, and labor-saving equipment from Minnesota Equipment.
As summer nears its true midpoint, we’re happy to report the project garden is producing a bumper crop.
As expected, radishes, lettuce, spinach, and kale were fast starters, fueling a flurry of super-charged early summer salads and smoothies. The broccoli, peppers, onions, and zucchini weren’t far behind, and continue to send their bounty to the table.
Several varieties of tomatoes are beginning to produce in earnest, along with plots of cabbage and Brussels sprouts. Meanwhile, a smorgasbord of herbs including dill, basil, parsley, chamomile, and cilantro are eagerly spicing things up. Finally, mixing flowers both in the beds and smaller pots are attract pollinators and adding splashes of color.
The garden has also yielded a number of lessons that can help you maximize yields in your raised beds and other plots.
As we noted in the initial story on raised beds, such plantings generally require care similar to their ground-level gardens. Weeding has been infinitely easier, however, with zero kneeling or bending over. The beds’ compact size has also allowed more intimate care for each plant, in terms of watering, staking, pest control, weeding, and other TLC, which has been rewarded with solid growth and ample produce.
Lessons We Learned
Watering might be the biggest issue with a raised bed, as they require more water than in-ground gardens. The hot, dry weather central Minnesota experienced in June and July made daily watering an absolute must for the majority of the plants. Heavy watering was not needed in areas where lush plant growth shaded the soil.
The zucchini zone offered a lesson on nitrogen management. Specifically, an excess of this essential element triggered explosive leaf growth at the expense of fruit production. Judicious pruning allowed the plants to start producing better, and tweaking the soil structure will benefit future crops.
As expected, the soil in most of the beds settled noticeably. This explains why experts recommend adding soil and organic matter each year to counteract settling and aging.
In our garden, we started a second crop of lettuce and spinach. Although, Nurturing plants during the heat of summer is difficult. Options include strategic shading and moisture management, with experiments ongoing. Watch for future updates as Minnesota Equipment’s raised bed project continues, and remember to contact us anytime you have a question on machines to make home, garden, farm, and food plot projects easier!