Goshen News, Goshen, IN

February 15, 2013

THE DIRT ON GARDENING; Raised bed gardens can create visual pleasure


— Are you planning a raised-bed garden this year? Well congratulations — not only for your decision to grow your own but also for incorporating the raised bed design that has become so popular.

Raised bed gardens are the rave anymore because of the convenience, ease of harvesting and the neatness they provide to a homeowner — especially city dwellers.

While any garden that is well-maintained creates a visual kind of pleasure, a raised bed that is well placed in a more convenient spot, like outside your back door, will if properly maintained, fit right in to other landscaping and flower gardens.

A bed of this type doesn’t necessarily have to be the ho-hum garden with the standard vegetables one would ordinarily see in a garden for a food source.

Try to make your garden interesting by incorporating some unusual twists that separate it from the neighbors.

Flowers in the vegetable garden — well why not? I always ringed my garden’s outer edges with alyssum (Easter Basket Mix) that gave it a more finished look. I also planted a few marigolds to ward off insects. I filled an end with zinnias one year (the cut-and-come-again variety) just to make the garden a little more eye appealing and cosmos another year.

There are a number of things that you might do to set your garden off from the same ‘ole, same ’ole. Purchase a teepee style trellis for a vining flower or vegetable. There are simple ones and there are elaborate ones available to choose from and it will give your garden a handsome focal point. When doing this, always keep in mind the size of your garden and don’t overwhelm it with a giant behemoth.

Incorporate cement figurines for talking points like frogs, toads, turtles, angels or fairies. Place a gazing globe in a corner spot or plant flowers in an old galvanized sprinkling can and place it in a spot that can easily be seen. In other words, make it a fun place for yourself and one that neighbors and visitors will enjoy and comment on.

One such item, in a previous article of a friend’s garden, was a pair of cupped hands lying flat in the garden that contained a small amount of dirt planted with dragon’s blood sedum — how neat is that? This same cement creation could contain a small amount of bird seed or simply left for water to collect in when you’ve watered the garden. The birds will love you for it.

When laying out a raised bed (or two or three) keep things in perspective and consider surrounding landscaping and beds — in other words don’t just throw one out there. Make it a part of the whole landscape and design.

Keep beds level even if it means using more timbers on one end or cutting it into a slope in the lawn. Try to retain equal measurements between beds and use a level when laying them out and a square to keep corners even.

Raised beds planted on a slope should be cut into the slope to keep them level rather than following the slope of the landscape. It just makes sense for incorporating even watering practices and the prevention of run-off of the soil inside the parameters of the enclosure.