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Raised garden beds have many winning qualities:
For all these good things, raised garden beds can dry out faster than in-ground gardens. One reason is that the air which circulates around the outside of the bed can flow into the small gaps between the timber panels and cause the soil to start drying out. As a result, you need to pay attention to your irrigation regime but the results you’ll get from your raised garden will make it all worth it.
The first step in any irrigation process is to identify that the soil actually needs watering! You don’t have to be too scientific here. Just poke your finger into the dirt, right down to the root zone, and do it at least once a week. It should feel slightly damp, like a sponge that has been wrung out. If, on the other hand, the top two to three inches are dry and crumbly, you need to water. In summary, the soil might be too dry to provide any nutrition even if it looks to have a sheen of moisture on the surface. It’s deep down where the moisture needs to be, so don’t be shy. Dig deep when judging the water content of the soil.
How often you water depends on the dryness of the soil, and the factors that cause the dirt to lose moisture. For example, a hot and sunny setting will see soil dry out at a faster rate than a rainy locale. While this looks obvious on paper, many gardeners overlook the unique location of their raised garden beds and adopt a one-size-fits-all irrigation system which is oblivious to climactic conditions, plant size, and root depth. As discussed, stick your finger deep in the soil to know when it needs watering, and understand the different watering requirements of each plant before you sow. As for the best time to water? Early morning or evening, when things are cooler, are ideal times as the evaporation rate will be reduced.
You have a few options when it comes to watering a raised bed garden. You can do it from above by using a wand, ensuring the water pressure doesn’t damage any leaf material and that enough water gets down onto, and into, the soil. You can use a hose aimed more directly at the soil, or put in a soaker hose, which provides a slow and steady supply of water to the surface. While a soaker hose is a great option, ensure you arrange the sections of hose so they run parallel to each other without touching the stems of the plants. An automated system will give you peace of mind and provide regular watering, but check the settings reflect the irrigation requirements of your garden. And to prevent soil becoming clogged and muddy through over-watering, place a layer of stones or rocks at the base of the garden bed to improve drainage.
During warm, dry weather you can reduce the amount of water you need to use by top dressing your garden bed with all sorts of nutritious organic matter. For example, a layer of compost and worm castings covered with light-coloured mulch like yellow straw will do wonders for the whole garden.
When you look at this article, you really don’t have to do that much to get the most from your raised garden bed. As long as you look after the irrigation aspect, your garden will look after you with beautiful, healthy produce. As they say in the classics…just add water.