Growing Vegetables in Raised Beds-Why This Didn’t Work for Me

There are a thousand and one good reasons why you should grow vegetables in raised beds, just do a quick search on the internet and you’ll find more than enough helpful information as to why raised beds are “the” solution for small space gardeners, there are in fact so many valid reason to garden is raised beds,  when I first started the food garden I thought there was no other way to grow vegetables. You may have guessed from any of my garden photos I don’t grow my garden in raised beds it simply just didn’t work out for me. My first obstacle in my raised bed garden attempt, was the time and money it takes to set up. There are raised bed  kits available  but for me that was jut cost prohibitive. I got some lumber and brackets from the hard ware store, less expensive money wise but still cost a whole afternoon to set up a single bed, then I realized I needed to fill it with soil! My small 8’x4’  bed took several cubic feet of soil, which I also had to go out and purchase(more time/money).  Next I faced the daunting task of officially planning the garden layout. Raised beds are quite permanent no matter how light weight the building material is, once you fill a bed with dirt it’s not easy to move, that’s a problem for someone like me because I am constantly changing my mind about the layout of my garden. Did I mention my garden is extremely sandy and at the crest of a hill? Raised beds provide excellent drainage, a little too excellent for my moisture deprived sandy garden, while the veggies in the raised beds wilted in the summer heat, weeds grew green and lush in the pathways. Oh yes the “large” weed seed spreading pathways, I had to give up a 12” to 18” wide strip between each bed just to walk comfortable without scraping my shins on the slivery wooden beds. In the end I found what worked best for me was to scrap(literally!) the formal raised bed system and just garden at ground level. I haphazardly place movable brick paths and stepping stones as needed, no formal lay out necessary, no building or buying just walk out my front door when I feel like it and start gardening!  At the peak of the growing season the veggies are better able to get the water they need, somehow the bricks and stones act like a bit of a  mulch and hold  some moisture under themselves, where as the raised beds drained all the water in to the paths.  I am free to change my mind about the lay out any time by simply harvesting my vegetables and moving a few stones around, and my husband now has his Saturday afternoons free because he doesn’t have to help me construct any more raised beds!

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