Raised Beds - Thinking outside the "Box"

We had a class a while back in our "Think Green" series, this one on Organic Raised Bed Gardening. Michelle, my fellow master gardener, and now retired former Flower Tree designer was on hand to assist me. With over 50 people in attendance I didn't have enough handouts on hand, so thought I would put a few of the links up here that I use for my "go to" sources. Raised beds are an easy way to control your soil conditions and for that reason alone they are the reason I most recommend them for vegetable gardening in our area.

The Key Points for Planning a Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

Width of Beds
Make sure that the beds are narrow enough to allow you to work them from the sides without having to step on the soil. A width of  3 to 4' is workable for most people.
Length of Beds
The length is entirely up to you, anything from 8 to 10ft' works for most people. If you make them much longer you will find yourself becoming exasperated every time you have to walk round the entire bed to get to the other side!
Height of Beds
The best height for most purposes is around 1ft. This is deep enough to accommodate most crops and yet doesn't require large quantities of construction materials and soil mixture. If you have mobility problems you can make the beds higher. (use the Kellogg's Organic Soil Calculator to help you figure out exactly how much soil you will need for your beds)
Leave sufficiently wide pathways to allow you easy access with a wheelbarrow or garden cart and make sure that you can access the beds from both sides!
Positioning the Beds
It is important to position your beds so that they get the maximum amount of sunshine as most vegetables prefer full sun. Raised vegetable beds are usually aligned north to south to maximize the amount of sun they receive.

* Raised beds can be built in just about any available space, large or small; and with many types of hardware. (wood, block, rock, pallets,wine barrels, tires - use your imagination)
* The soil in a raised bed can be easily adapted to meet the needs of the plants;
* Raised beds are easier to tend than ground level gardens;
* Plants are easy to view and study in a raised bed;
* If desired, a removable roof structure to protect from spring winds can be built above a raised bed.

The site below  is always a helpful source of information whenever I am putting a class together. Our own cooperative extension service in Nevada is up for budget cuts this season, and I hope that they come through it. They provide a wonderful service to the community. Colorado has one of the most complete garden section out of all I keep track of though, and since their climate is so similar to ours, I recommend them quite often: http://cmg.colostate.edu/gardennotes/713.pdf

Here are a few that I found online to stir the imagination and get your creative vegetable juices flowing...........

And my All Time Favorite, is this one! Now I know what to do with all those left over bottles from the wine tastings at Red Zinnia.