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by Carole Schwalm Picture of a vegetable garden growing in a raised bed plot and other plants growing in containers in the background.
Good drainage in a loose, open soil ensures first-rate roots and increased growth.

To test your soil to see if it has good drainage: dig a hole 18 inches deep. Fill the hole with water. In one hour the water should disappear and this tells you that you have good drainage.

The antidote? You can double-dig the gardening area, a good choice if you have moisture loving plants (as in bog-loving plants, although you might lose air circulation). Or, you can use raised beds that are either purchased in a kit or home-made.

A month before you actually create the bed; put mulch on top of the designated area to kill the grass. You can also remove the sod or (what you should consider the last resort) use a herbicide. Till the soil for the bed at least 6 inches in depth and it isn’t a bad idea to do the drainage test again.

A home made raised garden bed structure before planting. As far as the framing: if building your own do not use wood treated with creosote which is toxic.

Now you are ready to fill the raised bed with soil. Do not use topsoil or you will pretty much be right back where you started. Instead, use a good garden soil with compost, peat moss, and perlite. The latter helps drainage. Sand can substitute for perlite. Now, you are good to go!

Garden vegetable seedlings sprouting through the soil. Be aware that raised bed water needs increase because the area tends to dry out more quickly.

You can purchase a plastic covering that covers a raised bed creating a mini-greenhouse. You can also buy taller raised beds usable on a patio allowing gardening while standing up.

Some of the raised Bed information: Cornell Cooperative Extension University

Share your raised bed gardening experience or if you'd like more information.