An anonymous author once stated, “gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes.” Spending time outside, planting crops for your family to eat, and making time for yourself, is not only relaxing, but it promotes good physical and mental health. Spring is the perfect time to start your vegetable garden, and Dr. Willard’s ® wants to help you become a master gardener by providing tips on two important items you need for a healthy and abundant vegetable garden, a raised garden bed, and PlantCatalyst®.
What is PlantCatalyst®?
Both professional growers and those who garden for the pleasure of it know the beneficial powers of Dr. Willard’s PlantCatalyst®. All living beings, including people, animals and plants, need nutrients to survive and thrive. PlantCatalyst® helps plants absorb vital nutrients from fertilizers and nutritional supplements, thereby reducing fertilizer use by as much as 50 percent. Our clients worldwide have used our formula for over four decades, and it has been tested on 100,000 plants in commercial greenhouses and institutions in the United States and Canada.
As a result of using PlantCatalyst®, your plants will:
- Bloom more and earlier than usual
- Grow sturdier and more extensive roots and stocks
- Grow larger
- Be more resilient
- Provide more yield
- Have more pleasant aromas
Adding just small amounts of PlantCatalyst® in addition to your regular fertilizer routine can significantly improve your gardening experience. In addition, we recommend building raised garden beds.
What are Raised Garden Beds?
Also called garden boxes, raised garden beds allow anyone to grow vegetables in a minimal space. These can be purchased from a local garden center, or can be easily built in your front or backyard. Raised garden beds have several advantages over planting in the ground, such as:
- Keeping pests, like snails, gophers and slugs, out of the garden.
- Preventing weeds from growing if a weed barrier is placed between the box and the ground.
- Providing the ability to use soil that is best for your gardening needs, instead of using the soil that is already on the ground. Better soil often leads to more fruit per plant.
- Providing a longer gardening season as the soil in a raised box is typically warmer than on the ground; therefore, gardeners can plant earlier and grow plants longer.
- Providing better drainage and keeping soil from being washed away in case it rains.
- Easier to manage, especially for older individuals or those with back problems, because they are higher off the ground.
Considerations to Building a Raised Bed
Not all raised garden beds are created equal, you need to consider a couple of things before choosing how to build yours. Two things to keep in mind are:
Material – Raised garden beds can be made from many different materials, even old bricks you can find for free. However, the more popular choices are:
- Pressured treated-pine, which is affordable, but does have chemicals that treat the wood that can infiltrate your soil.
- Rot-resistant hardwood, which doesn’t have chemicals, but is pricier than the first option.
- Composite material, which is made from recycled wood fibers or plastic, and is more affordable than rot-resistant hardwood.
Size – Depending on what you plan to grow, you need to make sure the raised bed will be wide enough to fit spreading roots or growing plants. However, you shouldn’t make the bed so wide that you can’t reach the middle of it to trim or water plants. You should also consider the width and height of the sides for mobility reasons. Those in a wheelchair should figure out how they will access the garden bed, and creating wide sides can serve as a resting place for the older gardeners.
How to Build a Raised Garden Bed
Building a raised garden bed is not difficult; here is an example of a rot-resistant garden bed that was built in two hours, using about $225.
- Pick a sunny spot because vegetables gardens need light.
- Remove the grass and till the earth with a pitchfork to prevent weeds and improve drainage.
- Cut an eight-foot long 2×10 cedar in half using a saw. Attach the end of a long side of a 10-foot 2×10 to the short side of a four-foot 2×100 with three-inch screws and drill. Use the screws on each corner, and overlap the short and long sides to attach the other sides.
- Add a framing square to each corner, and adjust so the corners line up straight.
- Add scrap lumber to each corner with the screws.
- Use a level to make sure the bed is flat on the ground; dig out the soil beneath to make it more level.
- Stake the frame by cutting ten two-foot long pieces of 2×4. Create a point by cutting each piece diagonally twice. Drive the stakes into the ground, at least 18-inches deep, using a sledgehammer on 2 1/2 -foot intervals of the long side of the frame. Then, secure the stakes to the frame with screws and a drill.
- Remove the corner braces and, instead, drive a stake into every corner. Secure the stakes with screws to the frame on both sides on one short side of the bed.
- Removing one short side of the bed by unscrewing it, add and level out soil and compost. Then, reattach the short side of the bed.
Start off your vegetable garden right with a raised vegetable bed and Dr. Willard’s PlantCatalyst®. Plus, check out our blog on planting zones to figure out what and when to plant in your area!