Get your vegetable backyard organized with raised beds | Dwelling & Backyard


The spring-like climate this previous week has been phenomenal. Though we might even see a return to cooler climate since March is thought to “are available in like a lion”, it was actually an indication of issues to return. I’m actually wanting ahead to March’s exit because it “goes out like a lamb” and the 2022 gardening season takes form.

Planting time is developing

Hotter days are a reminder that sunlight hours are rising with every passing rotation of the earth and the vegetable gardening season might be upon us earlier than we all know it. In case you plan to begin seeds indoors for most of the heat season greens, like tomatoes and peppers, its time to begin getting organized.

For the extra cold-hardy cool season greens, corresponding to kale, leaf lettuce, cabbage and spinach, the time to seed outside is approaching shortly. I’ve sometimes began these vegetation from seed in mid-March. This 12 months, I’m planning an improve to our vegetable gardening space that will assist me begin crops even sooner with many advantages that raised beds present.

YARD AND GARDEN: Youth Gardeners take part in winter actions

Updating an present backyard

Our present vegetable backyard was put in over 20 years in the past and close by bushes are actually beginning to shade the southern portion of our backyard within the early morning and late afternoon. So, we’ve determined to shift our backyard north and transition to raised beds. Though labor intensive this 12 months, the brand new raised beds will scale back the necessity for annual soil preparation and assist us transfer towards a extra no-till vegetable gardening system aimed toward maximizing the standard of our backyard soil.

A few of our new backyard beds will fall on high of previous backyard house, some will should be began from scratch. Soil beneath the footprint of every new mattress might be dug up and loosened to a depth or 10-12 inches and compost might be added throughout this course of to extend soil natural matter.

We plan to assemble 6-8 inch tall wooden sides for every mattress and fill them up with backyard soil from the Urbana Panorama Recycling heart. The ensuing new beds may have as much as 20 inches of loosened, uncompacted soil with a excessive natural matter content material.

The quick sides on our raised beds might be made from untreated cedar boards. It is very important make sure any supplies utilized in development of raised beds is protected to be used round meals manufacturing areas in case you plan to plant greens. We select untreated lumber to keep away from any potential soil contamination from chemical compounds that will leach from handled boards. Cedar has pure, rot-resistant traits making it an ideal selection.

Through the years I’ve seen fairly a number of supplies used to assemble raised beds. Typically, there are low cost or recycled supplies that work nice. From previous bricks to bigger diameter tree limbs or complete trunks, there’s sometimes a sensible possibility for mattress development utilizing supplies which are available.

Though the brand new beds aren’t extremely tall, the straightforward act of elevating the soil even 6 inches will end in fairly a number of advantages. Higher soil layers will dry out and heat up sooner every spring, permitting for earlier planting. The mix of improved soil drainage and higher aeration helps scale back illness points related to lingering floor water and poor air drainage.

A rise of simply 6 inches in top improves mild infiltration into the plant cover, which additionally evaporates moisture on leaves extra shortly to discourage proliferation of fungal illnesses. As well as, bringing “floor stage” of the beds up can alleviate the pressure in your physique when planting, weeding and harvesting.

Maybe the best advantage of a raised mattress system lies within the discount of soil compaction from foot visitors. In-ground gardens planted in rows end in foot visitors up and down every row all through the rising season that drastically compacts soil. Our new beds are designed with a width of 4 toes or much less permitting all areas of the mattress to be reached with out really stepping inside its borders, nearly eliminating soil compaction. With out the necessity for typical rows, vegetation may be put in in beds with uniform spacing, which has been proven to extend yields per space of backyard.

Raised beds are extraordinarily versatile and may be constructed in all styles and sizes, making even the smallest space a productive vegetable backyard. If you’re inquisitive about seeing raised beds in motion,

Try raised beds in motion

Grasp Gardeners have a wide range of examples put in at group gardens throughout central Illinois. These areas are open to the general public and designed to encourage others to adapt new gardening strategies. You possibly can try raised mattress gardening within the vegetable gardens at Iroquois Memorial Hospital in Watseka, the Douglas Discovery Backyard in Danville, the Kennekuk Herb Backyard at Kennekuk County Park in Vermilion County or the Concept Backyard within the College of Illinois Arboretum. Extra data is on the market at

For extra data on gardening with raised beds, a Raised Mattress Guidelines may be discovered at

Illinois Extension additionally has a wonderful web site with rather more details about vegetable gardening accessible right here:

Illinois Extension gives an exquisite information to rising widespread greens and herbs in Illinois, titled “Vegetable Gardening within the Midwest”. This guide could also be bought on the College of Illinois Extension Workplace at 801 N. Nation Honest Drive in Champaign or on-line at:


Katie Parker is a Native Meals and Small Farms Educator with College of Illinois Extension. 

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