It seems everybody these days wants to grow their own produce, and it’s a great idea for so many reasons! Firstly, it’s healthy for the mind, the body and the planet. Growing your own vegetables cuts down food miles, teaches valuable tools to children and lastly it is immensely satisfying consuming food you have grown yourself.
But while immense satisfaction presents itself for some, it can also be a source of despair for others who start with enthusiasm and hope, only to be defeated by any number of issues that may arise.
Vegetables are demanding little things. They need optimum growing conditions to produce healthy and bountiful yields. The two main requirements for a successful crop are a sunny spot and rich, well-drained soil. But with decreasing property sizes, many households don’t have a spare bit of garden behind the shed that meets the criteria, which is where raised veggie gardens are gold!
Whether it’s a prefabricated kit or one you build yourself from timber, a raised vegetable garden can be installed just about anywhere that fits the brief. Find a sunny spot in a convenient location and setup your new market garden. Raised beds are filled with rich new soil and good drainage is assured and there’s no root competition from existing plants or compact, stale old soil. As an added bonus raised beds tend to receive more sun and the soil stays warmer for longer. So the plants have ideal growing conditions for more of the year.
The raised height of the garden makes farming your crop a whole lot easier and the beds are harder for lumbering dogs, kids and local fauna to jump into. They can even be covered to protect against weather, insects, and other thieving animals with simple shade cloth additions.
The most cost effective means of creating a raised vegetable garden is by using ACQ treated pine sleepers. Simple construction using 14g batten screws and an impact driver will allow you to have up to a 600mm high garden assembled in no more than 20 minutes. The ACQ treatment is completely safe around foot gardens and human contact as there is no inclusion of the worrisome arsenic found in alternative timber treatment methods. Remember, ask for ACQ when constructing vegetable gardens of other common structures where constant contact may be required.
Thicker timber type construction will also protect your plant roots and prevent root burn. Some metal, prefabricated kits, if situated in full sun conditions may get extremely hot and be troublesome for your temperamental plants. Timber sleepers will act as an insulator keeping the soil warmer in winter and offer protection in the summer.
To fill up your raised veggie gardens, always use a premium quality vegetable soil mixture or potting mix in the top 300mm only. As you get deeper there is generally insufficient oxygen for organic matter to decompose properly. Blend your soil with clean river sand at a 50-50 ratio to fill between 300mm-500mm and then if required a clean drainage material for the remainder.
If using one of our bulk soil mixes, you may like to add some vermiculite or perlite, which make the mix lighter and more open and can help with water and nutrient retention. Of course, as with any garden bed, always finish off with a thick layer of quality mulch. In vegetable garden beds, Lucerne Mulch is preferred for its ability to enrich the soil by increasing nitrogen and potassium nutrient levels. Lucerne will also encourage microbial activity in your living soil.
The cost of filling your raised vegetable garden can be determined using the following formulas:
Length (m) x Width (m) x Height (m)
Height = 300mm (for top planting zone), 100-200mm (for filling/drainage zone), X mm (for remainder)
If we were to build a 2.4 metre wide x 2.4 metre long vegetable patch using 200mmx50mm ACQ sleeper. The garden will be 2 sleepers high (400mm).
2.4m x 2.4m x 0.3m = 1.73m3
2.4m x 2.4x x 0.1m = 0.57m3
In this example, you will require 1.73m3 of good quality organic soil, 0.57m3 of clean drainage material or sand and 1 bag of Lucern Mulch to fill your garden bed.
Happy Vegetable Gardening!