Okay, I know you’re probably sitting here and contemplating why I’m writing a gardening article in November, but hear me out! Having an effective vegetable garden takes more planning than what a lot of people realize, so I’m just trying to get you ahead of the curve. Most of Lincoln County has acidic soil with heavy clay content- and while this can be a blessing for how it holds water and nutrients, it can also be difficult to plant in. So while a lot of folks do find success planting vegetable gardens in the ground, others may find more success in raised garden beds.

            There are three main benefits to raised beds: the ability to control soil conditions, reduced disease problems, and space efficiency. The ability to control soil conditions is a massive benefit for raised beds. As I mentioned, our local soil is acidic and heavy clay, which for some crops isn’t a real issue, but can be for others. We can help ensure success of our garden by creating an ideal soil that is well-draining and nutrient-rich inside of our raised beds. There are a lot of different recommendations online for what soil mixture to use, but typically they include different ratios of compost, bark, peat moss, and other “ingredients”. You can also just purchase bagged or bulk gardening soil. I would recommend taking a soil test of your mixture a few weeks in advance of planting so that you can correct any issues ahead of time. I have seen raised beds with pH and nutrition problems due to the mix that was used, but unfortunately, the client only ran a soil test once they were having problems growing and at that point, there wasn’t much we could do other than starting over.

            The second benefit to raised beds is that we can dramatically reduce disease issues. Many serious diseases of vegetables like Bacterial Wilt and Blight are soilborne, meaning they survive for years in the ground and come back with a vengeance every year to infect your new crop. Growing in a raised bed can help reduce this problem, especially if you bring in new growing medium each year.

            Finally, growing in raised beds is more space efficient than planting in the ground. You can customize your raised bed to be whatever size you need, meaning you can garden nearly anywhere on your property. Alternatively, you can use large containers on spaces like a sunny porch or driveway- the possibilities are endless! As long as you pay attention to plant growing patterns and mature size to plan your garden and plant accordingly, you can get a surprising amount of produce from raised beds.

            If you’ve struggled with gardening in the ground, you may want to try out raised beds next year. Constructing your beds is a great wintertime project to get started on sooner rather than later. If you need help with vegetable gardening, raised beds, or any other topic, feel free to contact the Lincoln County Extension Office at 706-359-3233 or uge3181@uga.edu.

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