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How to Protect Raised Garden Beds

How to Protect Raised Garden Beds

There is a thin line that separates a raised bed garden from a traditional one. Though a traditional garden is awesome, nothing is more special than a bed garden. With a raised bed garden, you need not have a huge space to grow fresh foods in your backyard. Less space means less effort for weeding.

Of course, you still need to pull off those growing wildly weeds. But, come to think of it. Isn’t it pleasing to plant and harvest local produce without worrying too much about weeding huge planting space? Raised garden beds have far littler space than traditional gardens. The size of a bed garden is perfectly-tailored to suit your family’s needs. 

For more than a hundred years now, raised bed gardens have become a significant part of every household. More and more people are planting fresh vegetables in those raising bed gardens. The fact that the soil level of this kind of garden is made higher than those around it makes it beneficial to gardeners. Those who go through bad backs find it irresistible to plant and weed off without hurting their backs so badly. 

Benefits of a Raised Garden Bed

Benefits of a Raised Garden Bed

Better Drainage

A raised bed garden is made of crumbly or loamy soil. As a result, water can drain faster. Unlike flatbeds, its soil is softer and siltier because it is not stepped on. 

Effortless Pest and Weed Control

When we speak of raised bed garden planting, dense planting is a no-no. With the latter kind of planting, pulling out of weeds is never simple. Certainly, you wouldn’t want to spend forever weeding out, would you? 

Unlike flatbeds, raised garden beds displace weeds out on its own. Its walls partially creates a blockage for rhizomes and seeds. If you are a crop grower who finds the idea of pulling out weeds nerve-wracking, you will certainly love growing your crops in raised gardens. It can be installed above a weed cloth. This completely blocks the weeds out. Raised bed covers, when used along with sequential planting, protect the crops from bare dirt. As a result, weeds have no way to settle on them. That being said, weeds can be a problem no more. 

Pests, on the other hand, can be controlled effortlessly in raised bed gardens. In particular, metal screens on raised gardens block rodents from beneath it. Mesh covers hinder those birds from messing up with the crops. This, in place, ensures that snails don’t have any way to get into your growing crops. If snails do, they can easily be seen and taken from the garden bed in just a drop of a hat. 

Lastly, a raised bed garden is unique from any other typical gardens because it is way much easier to cover due to its size. It is small and planted intensively. 

Improved Soil

As I mentioned above, the soil in raised bed gardens has a topnotch quality because it is not stepped on. Its uncompact nature is perfect for fast fertilizer absorption. A soil like this saves you from all the worries of flushing away soil additions like that of fertilizers. Everything you put into these bed gardens is certainly not wasted. Rather, it goes completely to the growing crops. That being said, it gives the best value for your money. It is not just affordable but economic too. 

Prolonged Planting Season

As mentioned earlier, raised garden beds have loose soil that drains water faster than flatbeds. It is in this context that raised bed gardens are worth-picking when it comes to early planting. During the spring, the soil warms and dries out quickly. Flatbeds do not work this way. 

Besides, crop growers can’t help but feel amazed by the abundance of harvest they can get hold of with the idea of growing crops in raised bed gardens. This is regardless of changes in the season. Once again, this can be attributed to the richness of the soil. Uncultivated and compost-containing soil can better regulate the temperature unlike compared those soils that contain low level of nutrients.

Protection from Crops- Damaging Animals and Pests

A raised garden box has tall sides. This gives slugs a hard time to climb towards the crops. The tallness of these sides buy the gardeners with more time to track and pick those pursuing slugs on the walls before it reaches the crops. 

Thousands of gardeners even claimed that no slug can crawl over the box border that is made of copper flashing. Also, you can get rid of groundhogs and other crawling critters by setting up a hardware cloth beneath your garden box. It is important to stop these crops-damaging animals from ruining your root crops. 

Moreover, the height of raised garden beds hinders dogs from urinating the growing crops. Deer are detrimental to plants, you know that pretty well. To solve this problem, install a deer fence around your bed garden. You can also purchase a box that has a deer fence built on it. Another thing, you can even add some plastic hoops on top of your garden beds to protect your plants against birds and frosts.  

Protect Your Raised Garden Beds From Heat

Methods To Protect Your Raised Garden Beds from Heat

Summer is beautiful. However, for gardeners, it is a different story at some point. The heat of summer can be detrimental to plants in the garden. So, no matter how high the temperature level is, gardeners have discovered a sure-fire technique to protect their crops against the scorching heat of the summer sun. Do you want to know what these simple measures are? Well, you better take a closer look at this.

1) Try Mulching

Mulching protects the growing plants against extreme heat during summer seasons. It provides effective protection from strong winds. Both heat and strong winds can dry the soil on the surface of raised garden beds. Mulching ensures that the soil is kept well-moist by trapping the moisture in the surface. Gardeners must not worry about constantly watering the plants because the soil is moisturized. 

A wide array of mulch materials are made available in today’s market. Gardeners, like you, should have grabbed one (at least). A light-colored mulching material makes the soil surface cooler especially when the temperature is on high. In most yards, gardeners make use of a dapple of uncut grasses. They set these grasses aside for a couple of months- enough to mulch the growing plants. 

On the other hand, shrub beds make use of bark mulches to get rid of weeds around the growing crops. These bark mulches provide the soil with the shade it needs to grow on the loose. This helps the soil preserve its moisture. However, crop growers must completely recognize the fact that bark mulches might stick in some species in the garden bed which the plants might consider invasive. This naturally has weed seeds on them. 

2) Early-morning Watering

It is everybody’s knowledge that heatwaves can blow off moisture in the soil’s surface. It dries up the soil and the plants’ roots very very quickly. The rise of the surface temperature loses water in the leaves. This is the reason why thorough watering is a necessity. 

An early-morning watering daily is a gardener’s secret to help keep these plants well-moisturized. Use a water sprinkler early in the morning. Water evaporates faster when the weather is hot. Therefore, watering your plants through a water sprinkler does not make sense when you are doing it at high noon. 

Also, early-morning watering of growing crops helps gardeners get rid of heat scald. Heat scalds are destructive to the leaves specifically those parts that are exposed to direct sunlight overhead. Under the scorching heat of the sun, your crops need to be watered before the day closes. Regardless of the size of your raised garden bed, your crops deserve a generous amount of water most especially during hot weather. 

When in summer, conservation of water in the garden bed is on high. Don’t you know that watering using the palm of your hand gives the best benefit? It gives each crop just enough water it needs to survive and nurture. As compared to using water sprinklers, hand watering is a better way to water the developing crops in your raised garden beds. 

3) Protect Crops With Covers or Shade Cloth

A shade cloth partially protects the plants from the sun’s direct heat. This gardening material can be bought at most local garden shops. This comes in different configurations, shade factor, and dimensions. Since I mentioned “shade factors”, allow me to define it briefly. The shade factor is the degree to which sunlight is blocked. It falls between the ranges of 25% to 90%. A shade factor of 50 to 60% is what sensitive crops need. This includes salad greens. On the contrary, high tolerant crops such as beans and squash can live with a 30% shade factor at least. A shade cloth can make this possible. 

Speaking of shade cloth, there are few things that you must know about shade cloth. Although it provides a temporary shed to plants against direct sunlight, it must be properly positioned in a way that aeration is not hampered or reduced. Never enclose your plants inside a shade cloth. Instead, place the shade cloth just above the crops or on its side. Consider the direction of the wind in positioning the shade cloth. It will certainly damage the plants when it fell into them due to wind and other similar factors. 

If you are eyeing for a do-it-yourself shade cloth, few strips of woven cloth and a fishnet will suffice. String it up a few feet above your developing plants and you are good to go. When the raised garden bed is well-ventilated, a row cover is as beneficial as a shade cloth. The only thin line that differentiates the two is the unavailability of shade factor in row covers.  

How To Protect Garden Beds from Frost During Cold Weather

Protect Garden Beds from Frost During Cold Weather

1) Water the Growing Crops on the Daytime.

Ensure that your garden’s soil is moist during the day most especially when you are expecting an evening frost. Unlike dry soil, a moist garden bed can take up heat four times better than dry beds. When the soil breathes out moisture, heat is conducted. This makes the air inside the garden bed warm. 

Watering your garden when the temperature is still above freezing helps preserve the soil’s heat the moment it shrinks overnight.

2) Use Old Sheets & Blankets to Cover the Growing Plants

Do you have an idea how old sheets and blankets can protect your plants? Yes, you heard it right. This old stuff can shield your crops from the cold weather. It serves as an insulator to your lovely plants most particularly during the root-freezing evening. 

Hoops or stakes are recommended to tie the material up. Next, curtain it over the blossoming crops. Then, use stones, boards, or bricks to secure its edges. These materials hinder the cold air to flow inside the garden bed and hold the entire structure perfectly in place. 

If you put out your old pillowcases and slip them over to those tomato cages, these pillowcases serve as insulators or air pockets that wrap around your crops. Want an added protection? That’s not a problem. Go ahead and cover these pockets with extra blankets.

At this point, you may be asking when to cover your garden bed. Here’s a thing. Put these coverings on your crops an hour after dawn. Also, remember to take them off first thing in the morning to avoid overheating the plants. 

3) Insulate Those Tender Seedlings Using Containers

Is there any way you can secure some pots, cloches, or buckets for your frost-sensitive seedlings? How about garbage cans or storage totes? A large container can suffice in the absence of any of these things. Have bricks or rocks to weigh it down in case a soft breeze hits this storage. 

This container serves as an insulator to the pockets that surround the young sprouts in the garden bed. Through it, the frozen air has no way to seep in. Therefore, heat from the soil where those seedlings are planted is trapped. All you need to do the next morning is to expose the seedlings as the temperature soars up just above the freezing level.  

4) Protect Your Crops with Row Cover & Frost Blanket 

Lightweight plain-woven materials like quilts and blankets are impressive in providing plants with the protection they need against detrimental factors. A floating row cover, for instance, penetrates light easily. So, you can leave it above your garden bed during the daytime. This is particularly needed when extra plant protection is highly necessitated. 

The thickness of frost blankets vary. Thicker ones offer a higher level of protection to plants as compared to thinner quilts. Thinner quilts and row covers can only promise plant protection at 28˚F maximum. On the contrary, thicker covers and quilts can shield plants even when the temperate drops down to 24˚F.

Similar to its garden cover equivalents, these frost blankets create insulated air pockets close to your plants. These blankets collect the natural warmness of the soil towards the plants to keep it warm the moment that temperature shrinks at night time. 

Arching over your sensitive seedlings with fences or hoops or fencing is simple. All you need to do is curtain those garden beds with frost blankets. Then, make sure to trap the heat inside the bed by sealing in the edges. In turn, these hoops hinder the cold air from getting into the garden bed. 

Once the surface temperature rises, take off the frost cover. However, if you are using a breathable fabric cover, leaving it on top of your garden bed for a couple of hours isn’t a problem. It adds protection to your plants without suffocating them with too much heat. But, never miss checking your budding crops from time to time to avoid damage due to overheating.

5) Consider Hot Composting for Added Insulation

Though this technique is a little conventional, hot composting is always one of the best when we speak of protecting the plants from the icy weather. As the name suggests, hot composting works by warming the soil up. This way, the plants are shielded from too much temperature drop. Compost does not only insulate the seedlings; but also, improve their growth too. 

Hot composting is done by partially working on the raised garden bed’s core. Never plant the seeds directly unto it because it is extremely hot to bear for these little buds. As a result, it could kill them. 

6) Try Soil Preheating 

When we say “soil preheating”, we pinpoint a specific process of retaining and absorbing heat to maintain the warmness of the soil. Accordingly, the soil is warm enough to promote better seedling growth and effortless transplant. 

To do this, you’ll need a dark plastic mulch or any black material to cover the plants inside the bed. If you have an Infra-Red transmitting plastic mulch, consider yourself lucky. You are more than ready to gather a sufficient amount of sun’s heat for your crops. These aforementioned materials work extremely well in retaining warmth in the soil during the night and overwinter. 

Moreover, weed growth is no more of a problem with plastic material because it has a property that inhibits the growth of weeds on the garden beds. Basically, you need not be anxious about pulling out the weeds very often. Another tip though. Growing crops might die when exposed to too much heat for a prolonged time. Take note that when you are preheating the soil of your raised garden bed, you must have an idea of the temperature- ideal to grow your plants. Or else, killing your sensitive seedlings inside those bed gardens is the next thing you’ll do. 

Raised Bed Protections from Animals

Raised Bed Protections from Animals

1) Full Envelopment

Squirrels and raccoons are detrimental to plants. They must not be allowed to get into your crops’ growing and planting spots. The best way to handle the matters is through blocking these animals. Yes, these animals can indeed climb incredibly well. So, it is clever to make a cage that is as tall as the tallest plant you have inside your raised garden bed. Also, tall walls make you more comfortable whenever you need to till the soil or check the crops from your end. 

Also, protective cages work perfectly as season extenders. You can utilize a greenhouse plastic above a garden mesh to trap the sun’s heat in preparation for the cold weather. But, never lose sight of the fact that plastic covers must be removed during hot days. Failure to do so can end up frying your crops up.

2) Fencing

In fairness to this method of garden protection, the creation of fences is typically the most popular and well-loved among gardeners. Protecting the growing seedlings against deer, rabbits, and other plant-damaging pests has never been this easy. To start with, set up a fence at approximately an inch away from the four main bases of your raised garden bed. For rabbits, have a fence height of not less than three feet high. 

On a similar note, the deer problem is a little more difficult to handle, I know. But then, difficult does not mean impossible, right? To outsmart the deer, build an 8-inch tall garden fence around the garden bed. You can have the fence higher based on your preferences. A fence of that height is impossible for deer to jump over it. Save yourself from the trouble of groundhogs by creating a fence made of chicken-wire. This deters groundhogs.

3) Use Alternative Sources of Foods 

By providing damage-causing pests with an alternative food source, these pests won’t feed on your growing plants anymore. You may choose to place bird feeders on all the edges of your raised garden bed. Pests will certainly get distracted with smaller animals that feed on bird seeds. But then again, make sure to keep these alternative food sources or feeders brimful.

4) Predator Pee

Another effective way to protect the plants is through spraying predator urine around it. Such technique drags the pests away from the growing sprouts. If you are ready to give this idea a try, purchase a predator urine at the gardening shops in the locality.

You can have it online too. Normally, wolf urine is effective in keeping the deer away from the crops. Vegetable predators would not love the wolf urine’s disgusting smell. Lastly, the moment the deer smells the urine, it will think that a wolf is within a very close range. So, it will run away from the vegetable garden. 

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Carlos Warren

Growing up in Texas, I was fascinated by the world of science and invention, thanks in large part to my father's work at Dow Chemical Company. However, my true passion lay in the natural world, and I became an expert in organic gardening and composting at a young age. I spent hours studying the microbiological communities in our family garden, using a microscope to define the quality of the soil. My love for farming and gardening led me to explore new techniques and methods, constantly pushing the boundaries of what was possible.