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Connecticut Garden Journal: The benefits of raised bed gardening

Woman gardener weeding her raised bed organic vegetable garden.
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Raised bed gardening is a great way to maximize your veggie and flower yields, contain gardens in a small space and define the garden so kids and pets don't run through it. Build your structures now for spring planting.

After the cold weather that ended our growing season, it's predictably warmed up again. This temperature fluctuation is our new norm, so we should be ready to act when we have a window of opportunity. That's why I'm building some new, raised beds this week.

Raised bed gardening is a great way to maximize your veggie and flower yields, contain gardens in a small space and define the garden so kids and pets don't run through it. While you can use lots of different materials to make raised beds including, stone, brick, cinder block, metal and composite wood, I like using rough cut spruce or hemlock. They hold up for a good 10 years in my garden and are much cheaper than cedar.

Build the beds at least 10 inches tall and no more than 4 feet wide. You'll avoid walking on the soil and compressing it and have a high enough bed to get good soil water drainage and plant growth. I like using metal, raised bed, corners. These corners come with 1 or 2 inch diameter slots and at different heights. Simply cut the wood to length, slide the boards into the slots and screw them tight. When the wood eventually rots, just replace individual boards without having to redo the whole bed. I also line the bottom with ¼ inch mesh hardware cloth to prevent mice and voles from tunneling into the bed.

Build the beds now but don't fill them with soil yet. That's better done in spring. And don't just think of veggies when planting. I've seen some beautiful perennial and annual flower raised beds, too.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.