As you shoveled snow this week, did you balance that digging is adamantine work? Did your aback accuse that you’re not accepting any younger? No amount how abundant we adulation gardening, the accuracy is that digging into abundant adobe is arduous for everyone. In this arena best of us accept adobe soil, compacted soil, or both. If you plan a flat, in-ground garden, again you apparently accept to breach up the soil, about-face in lots of admixture and dig holes or trenches for planting.
Fortunately, there are easier ways.
Raised bed gardening
There’s annihilation new about agronomical in containers or aloft beds that let you abound plants aloft the akin of solid ground. Ancient civilizations invented several means to bulb into mounds. An old German adjustment referred to “huegels” or hills congenital with base sticks and besom at the basal and layers of amoebic abstracts accumulated on top. Amoebic farmers, who abode aerial amount on adobe tilth (friability) and adobe life, about apply advanced row and aloft bed methods. Old or new, these methods accommodate the aforementioned benefits:
• Prevent adobe compaction
• Avoid again digging in abundant soil
• Control of adobe quality
• Easier planting, weeding, harvesting
• Efficient, accelerated use of soil
• Portability: Some aloft beds can be moved
In agronomical barter shows, garden centers and in agronomical courses you can apprentice techniques and acquisition articles that accomplish agronomical abundant easier as they let you body up rather than dig down.
In barter shows in California, Florida, Boston and locally, one artefact band has afflicted me at every turn: The Acute Pot band of products, including the Big Bag Bed. Acute Pots are basically bolt bags, with or after handles, that appear in abounding shapes and sizes. They may be afraid from a fence or placed on a collapsed surface. The Big Bag Beds are about round, wide, low beds that you abode on top of the arena as burning aloft beds. In all these cases, aloof accommodate your own potting mix and you can abound anything. I empiric them in Quebec City and in our own Broadway Bazaar rooftop gardens. They will be apparent on driveways, decks, and in advanced or aback yards wherever gardeners appetite to abound with basal angle and digging.
Other choices for alembic agronomical accommodate any clay, plastic, or board containers – with arising holes of course. Another outstanding artefact is the Earth Box, which alike has a self-watering system.
All these alembic or aloft bed forms do charge to be abounding with potting adobe and I will reiterate: In containers, the bloom and affection of the adobe mix is critical, so buy potting mix from a acclaimed source, and don’t aloof dump in your alfresco soil. Abounding nurseries action acceptable compost/topsoil mixes for aloft bed systems. I accept acclimated and accepted the affection adobe mix in the Big Yellow Bag from Lakeside Sod, a bounded company, which can be alone off in your driveway neatly and conveniently.
Build it yourself
If you’re accessible and can bang or booty things, you can body your own aloft beds. As you adjudge on the size, some accepted acumen applies: A aloft bed should alone be as advanced as you can bulb into and tend from the ancillary of the bed. If you accept to footfall in it, you’re absorption the adobe and acquisition the purpose. So 3 to 4 anxiety advanced is about right. The bed can be as continued as you want, but accede the practicalities of walking about it.
As for depth: If the arena you’re architecture aloft is cementlike, attenuated (or absolutely cement) again you charge to body the bed aerial abundant that bulb roots accept abundant abyss of adobe – conceivably 15 inches for baby flowers and bloom greens, three anxiety for shrubs or tomatoes. If the adobe is aloof poor, again breach it up coarsely and body a bed 15-inches high, alive the roots will ability into the old soil. (When I acknowledgment depth, I’m apropos to the adobe depth; accordingly the absolute abandon of the bed ability be hardly higher.)
With ambit in mind, adjudge what you accept or can get for anchor this bed. Large rocks are picturesque. Cinderblocks are applied (although you may accept to analysis that they don’t accession adobe pH). Artificial kits are on the market. Old blast poles acclimated to be accepted but creosote leaching was discovered, a blackmail to health. Logs are applicable choices, although they will decompose in a brace of years. I accept apparent adorable aloft beds alluringly belted by collapsed timberline limbs and trunks. Alike if they decompose about the garden bed, it is a accustomed and adorable process.
Most bodies use boards, which should be as adamantine copse as possible. In my book, “Great Garden Companions,” I showed pictures of architecture my aloft beds with hemlock boards, and those beds lasted 12 years. I acclaim ∫-inch array or thicker, as thinner boards bastardize or decompose sooner. (Formerly we acclimated advised copse until we abstruse about formaldehyde.) If you use copse for aloft beds it’s a acceptable abstraction to band the central walls with abundant builder’s artificial or agronomical atramentous plastic, to apathetic the copse decomposition. If you are beating beds calm out of lumber, booty affliction to brace the corners, as acclimate will cull at chiffon construction. Or body seats beyond the corners. Creative designers accept fabricated metal corners to affix boards for easy-to-build aloft beds.
What will assignment for you this year? You accept time for some planning and browsing. Go to the shows. (The Home and Garden Expo is in Hamburg, Feb. 25-28. Bulb WNY’s Landscape and Garden Show, Plantasia, is March 31-April 3. Or biking to a annual appearance such as the Philadelphia Annual Show, March 5-13). Evaluate the articles and tools, and apprehend from vendors or advisers about means to garden easier and with bigger results. Aloft bed and alembic agronomical are artlessly smart. Plan ahead. You and your aback will be animated you did.
Sally Cunningham is a garden writer, academician and consultant.
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