Spring is here and it is high time to start planning for the garden. What fruits and vegetables should grow in the garden this year? Which herbs should it be? Not entirely unimportant is the big question of which method should be used to grow the plants. This article introduces two growing methods and their respective advantages: The raised bed and square gardening.
Raised beds – more yield, fewer pests and easy on the back
Raised beds are garden beds that are not laid out at ground level, but above the usual bed level. Therefore, raised beds offer a comfortable working height that is easy on the back and also has many other advantageous features: Due to the higher position of the bed, which is set at a range between 25 and 120 centimetres, even wheelchair users have the opportunity to plant vegetables, fruit, kitchen herbs or flowers. Otherwise, gardening can be done comfortably while sitting or standing.
Moreover, you do not necessarily have to set up raised beds in a garden; a terrace or balcony is perfectly adequate. A raised bed is therefore also interesting for those who do not have their own garden.
In addition, raised beds are easy to cultivate and yield almost three times as much in the first year as growing in a normal bed. The higher position favours the incidence of sunlight, so that the plants get more light and the overall temperature is somewhat higher – ideal conditions for growing and thriving.
Another advantage: the high position makes it more difficult or even impossible for many pests to eat the planted fruit and vegetables and thus affect the harvest. Slugs and snails that make their way upwards can thus be easily detected and removed by you. A fine-meshed wire mesh at the bottom of the raised bed prevents mice and other rodents from getting to the plants.
Tips for designing a raised bed
The construction of a raised bed is as follows: the border of the box can be made of natural wood, natural stone, artificial stone (concrete slabs, brick, etc.), (corrugated) sheet metal or plastic. On the outside, the walls should be strong enough to withstand earth pressure; on the inside, they should be protected from moisture.
To fill the raised bed properly, you can use garden waste such as grass, leaves, shredded branches and leftovers after hedges and trees have been trimmed, as well as conventional garden soil. In this way, they are sensibly recycled and the nutrient content in the soil is promoted. The materials are filled into the bedding box in layers. The high-quality soil is then placed on top.
The materials remain intact for years, only the soil needs to be replenished annually. After five to seven years, however, the soil for the entire bed needs to be changed. As the materials rot, the nutrient content of the soil also changes.
In order to make efficient use of this until the soil is replenished, in the first year you should plant heavy feeders that need a lot of nutrients to grow. In the second year, medium growers will still find a good basis and from the third year onwards, weak growers will thrive in the raised bed.
Square gardening – great variety in a small space
In a so-called square garden, the rows of plants in the bed are divided into a grid. The individual squares of the grid are each 30×30 or 40×40 centimetres in size, and the spacing is easy to implement. To separate the squares from each other, lay out the bed with a wooden frame.
The squares together thus form a large square or rectangle bordered by wooden boards. The total width should be chosen so that the gardener can work from all sides without problems and can also reach the middle squares. This is doubly practical in a raised bed.
Grow one type of plant per square. The result is a colourful variety in the smallest space. The maximum number of individual plants that should grow in a square depends on their size and the space they require.
Planting a square garden
With a spacing of 8 centimetres, 16 plants will fit in a square, for example carrots, onions or radishes. If the distance is to be 10 centimetres, nine plants can be planted in a square. This is the case, for example, with spinach, beetroot or bush beans.
If the distance is 15 centimetres, four plants are placed in a square, as is the case with leaf lettuce, chard or parsley. For plants that need 30 centimetres of space, only one plant is placed in a square. These plants include cauliflower, peppers, tomatoes and broccoli.
The advantages of a square garden: Instead of fertilising and digging up the entire garden area, this cultivation method works the individual squares. This is useful in that only the area where something is actually planted is cared for.
In a conventional garden, where the entire area is cultivated, the unplanted area receives unnecessary fertiliser and water – and this encourages the growth of weeds. For this reason, fewer weeds grow in a square garden and significantly less water and fertiliser are needed.
In addition, a square garden is extremely space-saving. So the wooden box can easily be placed on a roof terrace, in a sunny courtyard or in a very small garden. This saves working distances and you can quickly get supplies while cooking. If the square garden is laid out in a raised bed, it is also easy on the back.