As we head into our 6th growing season at the farm – I can’t imagine life without raised row gardening. For us – it has made all the difference in successfully growing the majority of our family’s food without spending all of our time in the garden.
The advantages of raised row gardening are quite frankly unbelievable. A raised row garden is not only simple to create, but inexpensive to boot! To set up an initial garden, there is no need for a rototiller or back-breaking hours spent digging, hoeing and raking.
When it comes to maintaining, the beauty of the raised row system is that it keeps the work concentrated to only the growing areas, so there is minimal weeding and watering. With about 10 minutes a day – you can easily keep your raised row garden in tip-top shape without the use of expensive sprays, soil additives – or that rototiller!
As for production – the raised row garden once again comes through with flying colors. Vegetable plants like tomatoes and peppers thrive in the set up, as do beans, corn, potatoes and more. And planting can be made easy with inexpensive garden packet seeds sets that can be purchased for a complete garden set up.
Raised Row Gardening Basics
Raised row gardening beds are 6″ high x 18″ wide growing rows created by using a combination of organic materials and top soil. They utilize the same concept as raised beds – without all of the hassle and expense of building walls to contain the soil. In place of the rock, wood or metal sides used on raised beds – the soil on the edges of raised row garden beds are gently tapered and sloped using only the soil.
Your initial growing rows can be built right on top of grass or existing garden soil. We created our first set of rows using a base of straw and shredded leaves, and then covered up with a layer of soil to build the raised rows. In between each row, we leave 24″ of space for the walking rows, mulching them heavily with straw, leaves or wood chips to eliminate weeds, and the time spent controlling them. This system instantly eliminates 75% of the garden space (the walking rows) from ever having to be maintained.
This system also allows you to concentrate all of your compost and soil building efforts in the specific 18″ wide growing space of the row, not wasting the precious resources over the entire garden area.
Much like raised beds, the soil in raised rows helps to regulate the soil temperature and moisture levels in the root zones. During periods of heavy rain, the raised rows allow excess water to shed off and away from the plants, keeping the soil moist, but not flooded.
In addition to keeping the plants from drowning during heavy rains, the raised rows let you work in the garden at any point. This means not having to wait for days or weeks for the soil to dry out like traditional tilled gardens so often have to do. This is a huge advantage, letting you work in the garden at all times to stay on schedule.
Raised rows work just as well in dry conditions too. Those same raised beds that shed off the excess water during heavy rains work to conserve the moisture around plants and regulate soil temperature during periods of drought – meaning less watering for you!
Finally, with the growing rows at a different level than your walking space, plants develop deeper and stronger roots by not being crushed by heavy foot traffic around root zones. The same can’t be said for the traditional flat tilled garden..
In addition, unlike raised beds with their confined sides, raised row beds are easier to work in and dig under cover crops and green manure crops in the spring and fall – keeping beds productive year after year, without breaking your back, or the bank!
Give raised row gardening a try this year, and you might just be surprised how easy it is to garden! See : How To Raise Row Garden
Happy Gardening! – Jim and Mary