Building a Kids' Raised-Bed Garden

When the soil isn't exactly gold for the garden, rich in nutrients and minerals, what can be done? Amendments can be added to the soil to make up for some of this deficiency, but building a raised bed for flowers and vegetables can help decrease the chances of a low-nutrient soil problem.

Some raised-bed systems also allow kid gardeners to more easily take care of their gardens. A raised-bed system can also allow for higher production in a kid's garden.

So how do you and your child make a raised bed?

Design and function
Design and function is important in a kids' raised-bed garden. Each kid is different in design, with different length arms and legs, reach and capabilities. So design and function of the raised bed depends on your kid's aptitudes, attitudes and abilities.

Asking a kid's opinion doesn't hurt. He or she might want a small raised-bed garden, just big enough to grow something but not so large that it is overwhelming.

Usually the smaller the raised bed garden, the better. A typical recommendation would be no more than four feet wide and four feet long. That gives plenty of reaching room so that the center of the raised bed can be reached.

The square and rectangular shape are the most common. But there are materials that could allow for different shapes, such as stars and circles, even a block outline of the kid's initials. Just be creative.

There are many different types of raised-bed garden materials to choose from, but they all have the same basic function: to raise the garden above ground level. This serves to help control many aspects of the garden.

It helps with weed control. Fresh soil added in the raised-bed garden gives you more control over what exactly is planted in the garden bed.

By controlling the type of soil, you can better control the moisture retention. Additions such as vermiculite and perlite can add to the water holding ability of the raised bed garden. This in turn decreases the need (in general) for a lot of continual watering.

Supplies needed
Traditionally, raised-bed gardens are made from wood that you can find at any home and garden or lumber supply store. The wood should at least be two by six inches, preferably eight or more inches thick. Why? There are some vegetables such as carrots that will love a deeper bed, and the roots need room.

Search around for designs in home and garden stores and on the Web. There are many plans for a raised-bed garden. Most plans that involve wood have the need of some sort of fastening equipment. It isn't recommended to use nails, as they may cause wood to split. Use bolts or wood screws instead.

A raised bed can be built with bricks and blocks. They can also be built just using the soil itself. You don't really need an edge to it. Stone, railroad ties and even logs can be used. Don't feel like your kid's raised-bed garden should be limited to traditional methods.

Cinder block garden
Here is an easy and simple raised-bed garden design using cinder blocks.

Cinder blocks are about 16 inches long. Make the bed two blocks wide and four or five blocks long, for a total of 12 to 14 cinder blocks. Line them up in a rectangular shape. You could also use the same number of blocks and make it a square.

We lay landscaping cloth down before we place the cinder blocks, but it isn't completely necessary. A typical cinder block garden this size takes about 12 to 13 40-pound bags of topsoil, less if you add amendments such as compost and cow manure to the raised bed.

Some people even use the holes in the cinder blocks to plant smaller flowers. But since the cinder blocks really heat up in the sun and tend to demand a little more water during the hot season, it isn't recommended to plant anything that is not heat-tolerant.

With a little creativity and fun, you can build a raised bed garden that any kid will love.

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