Posted by: Kate | May 29, 2008

Raised Beds

I do all my vegetable gardening in raised beds. This came about more out of necessity than anything else. Our house was built for us, and the lot was stripped bare of any top soil (a good thing as it was full of broom, the scourge of the island). The area where we live is extremely rocky, so although the soil is decent quality, there is not a lot of it! Raised beds were really my only option if I wanted a vegetable garden any time soon after moving in.

We built three boxes our first spring in the house. Two of the boxes are 6×8, one is 8×8. I filled them with compost, half and half top soil/compost mix, and mushroom manure. The first year we didn’t have a spectacular crop, but enough to eat fresh veg for many dinners. That fall I added a lot of seaweed to the beds, and then in the spring I dug in my first home-made compost, as well as adding more store-bought compost. We are now four years into the raised beds and I have continued this soil amendment process every year. I notice an increase in crop production every year, and look forward to more years down the road when my garden has super-healthy soil and super-abundant crops!

Last year we added two more raised beds to the vegetable garden area. They are 6×4 and 6×6. The smallest one is for my strawberries, which were running amok in the herb bed (I’m still digging them out from under the herbs). It seems to have been a good move, as the strawberries are bigger and more loaded with flowers than ever before. This way I will be able to keep the patch under control. The other of the two new beds was so that we could have four beds in rotation: one for potatoes, one for my son, and two for the rest of the vegetables.

I have gravel around all my beds. Most of the gravel now has landscape fabric under it, and I am slowly filling the paths in as we can get the gravel. The beds themselves are about 8 inches high. 

Raised beds also allow my soil to dry out and warm up a little faster in the spring. We are located half way up a big hill, and the winter rains often pool in our backyard. The raised beds avoid the worst of the pooling.

One thing I would like to try in the beds this year is a cover crop in the winter/early spring. I think that would really add to the health and growing power of the soil.




  1. It is a lot of work, isn’t it! I figured out THIS year that LAST year I added too much store-bought compost and I burned the roots. My gardent was crap last year. It’s still a little early to know what is oging to happen this year, but I don’t have a good feeling about it.

    I like your point about the raised beds supporting better drainage. I think I’ll look into building mine a little higher.

    Until then…thank God for the Farmers’ Market!

  2. I love the Farmers’ Markets!! They have the things I can’t be bothered to grow, or simply don’t have room for (pattypan squash and mini eggplant come to mind, awesome for grilling).

  3. Hooray gardening! I do mine in raised beds too and I love it!

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