An unfortunate side effect of living in Southwest Missouri is our incredibly rocky topsoil. Many gardeners spend the majority of their time merely prepping the soil for planting. Fortunately for us, raised-bed gardening has come on the scene and almost fully eliminated the pain of working with Southwest Missouri soil!
Raised-bed, or boxed, gardening is a great option for even the most inexperienced gardeners. The raised soil level is also handy in reducing back strain or pain when bending over the bed to tend the area. Having raised sides keeps your soil from becoming eroded or washing away in a heavy rain, as well as preventing pests such as slugs and snails from entering the space.
We’ve also found that utilizing a raised bed can allow you to plant earlier because the soil will stay warmer and drain better than at the ground level. Unlike garden planters that have slatted bottoms, raised bed gardens are open to the ground allowing for roots to gain better and more nutrients. In our experience, these gardens can be made from a variety of materials and are relatively easy to construct and maintain.
There are several advantage to raised-bed gardening, including: higher food crop yields, easy maintenance, expanded growing season, better drainage, and the ability to utilize sites that planting would otherwise be impossible. In addition, these types of gardens are known for simplicity, versatility, and inexpensive nature. Permanent raised beds require a bit more investment up front, but will provide several years worth of quality gardening.
The most utilized construction materials for raised-beds are landscape timbers and railroad ties, but rot-resistant lumber and concrete blocks are also viable options. The wood based products tend to be more inexpensive that masonry materials, but you may be able to find bricks, or concrete a little, or no, cost. There is some concern surrounding how safe it is to use treated lumber when yielding food crops, so one should ensure to find the origination of your lumber and whether or not it has been treated with any chemical products.