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Frugal Gardening: Ten Advantages of Raised Garden Beds- Growing Spuds in Hay

By Edited May 15, 2016 1 0

Why Make a Raised Garden Bed

Have you ever thought about using raised garden beds to grow your fresh vegetables, instead of straining your back and continually digging and turning up the back yard to get rid of those dreaded weeds?  Believe me; raised garden beds take the work out of gardening.

I admit that in the beginning they take a bit of work to set up. Although the type of raised garden beds you choose will affect the amount of work and cost involved.

You could buy a ready-made one from your local garden center or have a friend make one for you. Then again, you can make them out of all sorts of things.  My son has made small ones out of old Webber, both the base and the lid. We have made them from an old refrigerator, old wash troughs, plastic drums and even old wine barrels over the years. Do you remember the old Simpson washing machines, forty-four gallon drums cut in half; they make great garden too.   

It depends on what types of things you have access to. Use your imagination and look around the second-hand places to give you fresh ideas and experiment. The main thing is to have adequate drainage so your garden will flourish with healthy fresh vegetables or flowers of your choice.

Seed Red Potatoes

If you prefer the red potatoes then this is the way to get started with a new fresh potato growing hobby

Advantages of having raised gardens

  1. Less weeds – By using descent soil from a reputable supplier you cut the amount of weeding. You control the soil and fertilizers added to your garden, not like a normal garden that allows the couch or lawn to encroach into the garden.
  2. Better water control – These not only remove excess water they absorb larger amounts of water to the plants, reducing wastage and prevent the water and fertilizers leaching into areas that do not need these nutrients.  When watering a normal garden much of the water runs away from the plants.  Plants thrive in well-drained soil therefore yield more produce.
  3. Ease of access – No more stretching to reach your plants, simply walk around your garden bed with easy reach to inspect and pick each plant and its produce.
  4. No more digging – When you filled your garden bed with a mixture of fresh soil, mulch, leaves, and kitchen scraps you reduced risk of the soil compaction. As no one walks in this garden, the soil allows a higher level of airflow to the roots of the plants.
  5. Less bending – Built up garden beds cut the strain on aging backs or people with mobility problems.  The height of the bed will affect the amount of bending required. Therefore, the higher you make the bed the less strain the back.
  6. Design and shape – The design and shape will decide how you plant the seedlings. You can plant in rows, squares depending on the type and size of the plants. Plant the taller plants in the center and the smaller ones around the edges.
  7. Longer growing season – When using raised beds the ground warms up sooner after the cold season giving you a longer growing time.
  8. No soil erosion – When you frame a garden bed it will contain the soil within the frame, reducing loss of soil.
  9. Stagger seed planting – Do not waste the seeds. Sprinkle seeds sparingly, then if some do not grow, add more seed instead of planting several then thinning out and wasting seed
  10. Pest control – They prevent those little bugs from entering as easy, especially the metal raised garden beds, as it is harder for them to climb up the sides.  We found a four legged pest jumping into the latest garden. It was our dog; he could smell the cow and chicken manure, so it was our own fault.

Frugal gardening: Planting suggestions

Tip: I plant a few, and then later plant more, that way they are ready to pick at different times. There is nothing worse than having twenty lettuces all ready to eat at once then nothing.

Depth of garden beds

The depth of your garden bed is not important, although it depends on what you grow. I would suggest anything between 8 cm and 35 cm.   Most plants and vegetables will grow in shallow containers, except large tuberous vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes or large carrots they need more depth. I like mine to around 30 cm high to cut the bending.

How to plant your garden

Design how you will plant your vegetable or flower garden beds. I think the best way to plant is by growing the tallest plants in the center of your garden bed, this will create some shade for less hardy plants.  Then divide the rest of your garden into squares and plant each section with different plants of your choice. How you plant will depend also on the shape of your garden

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Experiment - Growing seed potatoes versus Kitchen spuds

Frugal Gardening; lay cardboard

So many people say that you should always use seed potatoes.  I always use the end of a potato with sprouted shoots or the peelings when I was peeling my spuds.  I no longer peel mine, as that is the healthiest part.

This experiment will take several months to decide which produced the best crop.  As most gardeners know, they take months to grow, so I will add information in time.

Frugal Gardening: Lay hay on top

Prepare to grow Potatoes in raised bed garden with hay

The best part of growing potatoes in hay is there is no digging, nor having to wash the soil from your potatoes.

Frugal Gardening: Lay Seed potatoes on top
  1. Cover the base of your garden bed with either cardboard or newspapers
  2. Put a layer of hay, straw or similar over the cardboard
  3. Lay your seed potatoes on top with shoot pointing upwards if possible
  4. Cover with a descent  layer of hay, straw or similar
  5. As the potatoes grow through the hay, add more around the shoots.
  6. Do this several times to encourage more growth, water lightly as normal
  7. You will know when the spuds are ready when the leaves turn yellow. This will take several months. 

frugal Gardening: Grow seed spuds and Kitchen spuds

I have also planted a section in my normal garden as shown in above picture with several seed potatoes and some of my kitchen spuds and some part of spud.  This will prove which grows and produces the best potatoes.  At least I hope it will as both planted side by side under the same conditions.

Frugal Gardening: Cover all potatoes with hay
It has been three weeks and I had to lift the hay and let the air in as it started to go fungal. So be prepared and do not water much at all. Although this will depend on the weather of course.

Result of Seed spuds versus Shop bought ones

 Okay after six months I have to tell you that in my opinion;  I will always use home pieces of my bought spuds and some of my older ones that start to shoot, even potato peeling will grow and produce new potatoes.  These provided me with many more spuds than the seed potatoes that I paid $10 for.

So if you want to grow good potatoes then do a test of your own, although I would not pay too much for those seed spuds if I were you.  Good Luck. 

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