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We learned our lesson about raised bed gardening the first year we moved to South Louisiana. It is more of a necessity there, rather than an option. We were so happy. We rented a little house out in the country. We borrowed a tiller. My husband worked the ground. We leveled it, marked our rows and planted our seeds, just like we did it in Ohio. A couple of days later we had a torrential rain. My husband just stood looking out the back door watching all of his hard work being washed out. One of our new neighbors stopped by after the rain ended. He wanted to know when we were going to make our rows. We said here are the stakes and there is the string marking the rows. He was very patient with us. He said “no, your raised rows”. What? We didn’t know anything about that. Instead of just standing there laughing, he went home and got his high wheel cultivator and made the rows (aka hills) for us. We had a bumper crop that year due to his generosity. Of course, even if you live in better drained areas, there are many reasons to choose a raised garden bed over a standard garden space. I have listed just a few of the reasons below.
Raised Garden Beds typically take less space for the same amount of yield. In other words, you can grow 10 tomato plants in less space in a raised garden bed than they would take being planted in typical garden rows in the ground. Less space used equals less space to maintain.
Raised garden beds are easier to maintain than a typical garden, due to the smaller space. They are easier to keep weeded. The pathways are easier to maintain.
You are not walking on your soil, so you are not compacting it. Plants like to be in soil that is light and airy, rather than densely packed soil. Also, you can decorate your walkways in a variety of ways. You can use pavers, ground cover, sand, or a combination of these. You can match your outdoor space by using the same pavers that you have in other areas of your yard.
I am not a lazy gardener, but I do like to sit on the side of the beds and pick sometimes. It sure makes my back feel better. Plus, I can take a minute and just sit there and enjoy myself.
You don’t really need a large tiller. We do have a rear tine tiller that we work our soil with occasionally, but we also have a small tiller that is an attachment for our weed eater handle. This is small and makes pretty simple and quick work of tilling a raised bed.
A raised bed will be easier to fence around if you have rabbits and deer in your yard. I have even seen pictures of small raised bed gardens with fencing over the top of it also. If you have a small dog or puppy, you can raise the bed sides higher to keep them out. Also, if you want to use a cold frame, or season extender over the bed, it is much easier to install and use.
You can build one on your porch or patio. There are a lot of crops that can be grown in containers, but some of the larger crops just do better in a bed. One I can think of off the top of my head would be a zucchini plant. They sprawl out everywhere.
Finally, for all of you scavengers out there – this is the perfect place to recycle materials. You may be able to find used lumber, blocks, bricks, etc around your property to build the beds. There is no need to spend a bunch of money on new materials.
It is easy to install plastic garden mulch over a raised bed. We use a drip irrigation system under the mulch, and we put the irrigation system on a timer. The mulch will help cut down on evaporation. Even in the heat of the summer at 100 degrees we only water for 15 minutes every other day.
You can garden in a raised bed inside a greenhouse as well as out in nature.
In conclusion, we have been gardening in a raised bed for about 30 years now. We have moved from South Louisiana to North Louisiana. We may be able to get by with a regular garden, but we have just become so used to the raised beds. And, you can see all of the advantages that I have listed above. Even if you decide not to use a raised garden bed, be sure to get something growing in some dirt somewhere.
We put so much time into planning out our greenhouses — glazing options, size, lighting, bench/table configurations, even décor. But sometimes, we forget to consider one of the most basic elements of the greenhouse, the floor. There are many options for flooring material, ranging in cost from quite inexpensive to fairly costly, but every greenhouse floor must start with positive drainage. With all of the misting and watering that occurs daily, the last thing you want is to create a soggy, slick basis for walking and working. So start with good drainage and take that into account as you are making your flooring decisions, then check out these options to determine which one fits your budget, aesthetic and lifestyle.
Although pouring a concrete slab is likely one of the more expensive flooring options, it creates a permanent, solid basis for your greenhouse activities. Much like a patio floor, a concrete greenhouse floor will need to have a surface drain installed to allow water to drain out. Pouring a concrete floor is not an easy DIY project as there are too many variables to cover, so this is an option best left to the pros. The investment will repay you many times over, though.
Similar to the concrete slab, stone flooring is a more permanent option, especially when mortared in place. If you opt to forego mortaring, space the stone closer together and use a stabilizer in between such as decomposed granite or gravel. Make sure you choose a stone that has a flatter, smooth surface, as you don’t want to be tripping as you work — look for larger, flatter pieces labeled “flagstone” or “patio stone,” and forego lesser expensive “field stone” that tends to have a bumpy, irregular surface. A surface drain is also a must if you opt for a mortared stone floor.
Brick flooring is a beautiful, elegant and permanent option, but it can also be a more expensive one. Brick, like stone, does not necessarily need to be mortared in place, but it will need a surface drain if it is. If your greenhouse location has relatively level ground, and you have some basic DIY skills, this could be a project for you to take on, but most greenhouse owners will want to consider hiring the pros to correctly install this floor.
Many greenhouse owners opt for pea gravel for their flooring. It’s inexpensive, creates positive drainage and is readily available. You can also opt to install weed barrier underneath the gravel, and option that I recommend to keep the gravel from settling into the soil and disappearing. Be sure to keep the gravel clean by periodically washing it down, as a build-up of moisture can create a slick surface. As easy DIY project, gravel is a great middle-of-the-road approach to creating a functional greenhouse floor.
Also known as weed barrier, this woven black fabric is the choice of many commercial greenhouses to suppress weeds and create a nice level floor for walking and working. It allows water to pass through, creating positive drainage, while at the same time keeping your floor from becoming muddy. If you choose this option, go for the more expensive, commercial grade fabric, as it truly is a more durable and effective product. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for — and why go to the trouble of installing this product if it’s not going to do the job?
Good old-fashioned mulch is a great option for greenhouse floors — it provides great drainage, sure footing and enriches the soil as it breaks down. It’s also readily available and inexpensive. Opt for a higher quality shredded mulch rather than wood chips, as shredded mulch interlocks to form a tighter mat upon which to walk. You’ll need to replenish your mulch floor as it breaks down, but it’s an easy annual task that any homeowner can do. It’s available both in bags as well as in bulk (per cubic yard), with the bulk option being the least expensive by far.
We are happy to announce the addition of rolls of ground cover to our product line. This is a versatile product that has many uses. It is an excellent flooring for a greenhouse. It can be used by itself, or you can place sand, gravel or pavers over the top of this material. The UV protection ensures a long life. It is also used by commercial nurseries in the fields. Liners, which are immature plants, will be placed on this cloth for additional growing. We personally use it in the walkways of our vegetable garden. I have seen people cut it in circles and use it in conjunction with edging and mulch around trees. This weed barrier is good to use basically anywhere were you do not want weeds to grow. Available in rolls only in 3′, 4′, 6′, 10′, 12′ and 15′ widths by 300′ lengths.
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