Of the many reasons to build a raised garden, my favorite is the fact that you the gardener get to tailor every aspect of the place where your plants will grow. In this article I will discuss the major points of consideration when building a new raised bed garden.
Location is key. If you have a place where you want a garden, think again. Does the spot receive full sunlight during the summer or is it in the shadow of a garage or shade tree? If you are pondering a garden during the cold winter, keep in mind that the trees will leaf out again and block much sun.
Depending on what you are growing, this may be to your advantage, but for most any vegetable gardener, you want full sun for ten to twelve hours per day.
Late last winter I got to work in my garden long before plants would have thrived. Since the ground thawed I was able to set the blocks for last summers raised vegetable garden bed. My construction involved cinder blocks that were readily available because of a neighbors de-construction project.
My raised garden bed cost me nothing to build, as I had a supply of black dirt, dung, and cinder blocks. Should you choose to buy cinder blocks, plan to spend twenty to fifty dollars depending on how large a garden you build.
In areas of the world where seasonal frost occurs, you need to bury your garden blocks a bit so that the frost does not heave them around like so many poorly poured sidewalks. I may have gone overboard since I had so many blocks laying around. I dug down far enough for two layers of blocks below ground and two above. This gave me four blocks width to fill with dirt and manure.
The soil content of your new raised garden bed is your choice. Keep in mind that plants like black dirt, not the stuff that you will be digging up to begin your bed. You may need up to a truckload of good stuff to fill your above ground bed once it is dug and raised. This should not break your bank and you have the pleasure of cutting in whatever organic fertilizer or fluff you choose. Ideally, buying bags of organic potting mix would provide the most comfortable conditions for your plants roots but is not cost effective.
A last thought is to make the top of your raised garden bed level. If you are building into a hill, you may have to terrace the blocks so that the soil does not have much drop. Rain or watering water will wash away your hard work if too much drop.