The Q&A Archives: Vegetable garden

Question: How do I create a garden above ground? Our yard is very rocky so we would like to create a garden by putting dirt above ground somehow contained.

Answer: You can make a raised bed, where you can control the soil type and the moisture level. Another bonus is that soil in a raised bed warms up much faster in spring so you can get a jump start are gardening. Raised beds can simply be mounds of earth that taper from low to high in the center, to low again at the edges. These islands do not need framing or rigid walls. Or, you can build square or rectangular raised beds. There are many methods of securing the boards, from resting them on the ground and using corner brackets to simply bracing them with posts or iron bars driven into the ground every few feet. Dimensions are also varied -- it is a good idea not to make the beds wider than you can reach across to the center in order to tend the plants (three or maybe four feet if you are tall), and if purchasing lumber the length might be determined on standard sizes such as 8 feet. Certainly thicker boards will last longer and larger dimensions will require sturdier fasteners or supports. Much of the construction phase is determined by what you have available and to some extent, esthetics. You will want to loosen or roughen the existing soil before adding the new raised bed soil on top of it. The depth of new soil will depend on how much fill you have and on how deep the existing soil can be worked. In some cases six inches is ample, in other cases ten or twelve or even sixteen inches for flowering perennials and veggies is better. The beauty of raised beds is their total flexibility! Enjoy your project!

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