How To Prepare Your Raised Beds For Spring


Raised beds give you so many more advantages than having a garden in the ground.

This includes giving your plants more ground to grow down into.

It also makes it harder for weeds to get established in your garden bed.

So how do you prepare for raised beds for spring? The tips include turning the old crops under, removing last year’s crops, inspecting the raised beds for repairs, checking for weeds, adding soil as needed, and adding poles and trellises for tall crops.

Read to find out the most important things to consider with your raised beds.

Turn the old crops under

When we are done with fall, or winter comes on us unexpectedly, we sometimes leave our old plants in the garden.

And sometimes we don’t even consider if they are going to come back the next year.

So when winter is over and spring is finally here, turning the old crops is certainly an option for to do with the old crops.

Turning the old crops under does a few things for you.

It first helps you get rid of what you had planted last year.

Maybe the plant didn’t perform well or you didn’t actually end up liking what you had planted.

Either case, you’ve decided that you won’t be using those plants in the new year.

So turn the plants over into the soil so the nutrients can be re-absorbed.

If what you planted was perennial, you can probably save it for the new year instead of turning it under.

Some perennial vegetables and fruits include:

  • Asparagus
  • Leeks
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Lemons
  • Figs
  • Rhubarb
  • Kale
  • Artichoke
  • Radicchio
  • Garlic

If you planted any of these the year before, they can come back the next year.

So make sure you don’t put these crops underneath the soil.

But those plants that are only good for a year, you can recycle them under the soil.

The second thing it will give you is it will give the soil some of the nutrients it needs for the coming spring and summer.

When plants grow in your garden, sometimes they take the nutrients with them.

Which is good for you, since you are eating those nutrients, but it isn’t so good for the soil.

The plants take the nutrients out of the soil, so recycling the plants back into the soil will be some of the nutrients back.

Removing last years crops

If you don’t feel comfortable putting it under the soil, whether you think it might be diseased or you would rather just start over, you can always pull out the plant and put it in your compost.

Composting will accomplish the same thing as mentioned above, it will give the soil, wherever you decide to put the compost, nutrients that it needs to help your plants grow.

It can also benefit other areas of your yard since compost isn’t only reserved for your garden area.

It can help any trees that you have planted or will be good for the coming winter and keeping plants, trees, and shrubs warm.

As mentioned previously, before you compost, make sure that your plants are free of diseases.

If you place diseased plants into your compost pile, then you may spread that disease over to the rest of your garden and yard.

So if you are going to compost older plants, be careful.

Make repairs

There are many different ways to have raised beds.

Whatever you can find for posts and walls typically work for a raised garden bed.

I’ve seen families use old doors, old siding, or any scraps of wood you can find around the house.

This is great because you typically don’t have to invest a large amount of money into the garden beds if you don’t have the resources.

But make sure at the beginning of spring that you check your raised garden beds for repairs that might be needed.

Thanks to the cold and snow, you might have some part of the garden bed that has cracked or separated from the walls.

Make sure to grab a power drill and some screws to fix those loose boards.

You don’t want there to be gaps in your garden bed, or your soil is going to fall out and the water is going to flow out before it can be absorbed.

Or worse yet, the whole garden bed is going to fall apart.

So walk around all of your raised garden beds and take a look for any areas that might need a little bit of fixing.

A little bit of work ahead of time could save your quick a bit of work for later.

Checking for weeds

One of the major reasons that people used raised beds is so they can avoid having to weed their garden.

This is because the raised garden bed is typically a foot or two off of the ground.

Since it is raised off of the ground, it becomes difficult for weeds to grow from the ground up.

Also, at the bottom of the raised garden bed, there is typically some type of barrier between the ground and the raised garden bed.

Some have suggested using cardboard as the barrier and I have seen people use this and it seems to work pretty well.

Others have suggested using old carpeting as a barrier, which would be good for preventing anything growing up from the ground into the garden bed, but this could cause issues with getting the water to flow out of the garden bed.

Either way, the barrier helps keep weeds from coming from the ground up.

The next issue is wind blowing weeds into your garden.

If you covered your raised garden bed with a covering during the winter, this probably minimized the number of weeds you will have during the beginning of spring.

But check for weeds at the beginning of the spring and make sure to pull out any weeds you can find that are trying to grow.

And check regularly for weeds and pull out accordingly, since you can still have wind blow weed seeds into your garden bed.

Adding soil as needed

Another reason people typically use raised garden beds is that they give their plants a good surface with nice and fluffy soil to grow in.

On the ground, your soil is typically stepped on and compacted down as people walk around the garden.

In a raised garden bed, your soil doesn’t get stepped on and should be nice and fluffy.

The fluffy soil allows the plants to thrive since it will not be difficult for the plants to grow into the ground.

Because of this, you will want to avoid, if possible, stepping or laying on the soil that is in the raised garden bed.

A suggestion to avoid this includes have a 2 by 4 available to lay on in case you need to reach across the garden bed and cannot do so without a little bit of help.

Lay the 2 by 4 across from one wall to the next and then you can lay across the 2 by 4.

Outside of the soil being compacted down because of people stepping on it, there are many reasons why you might need to add more soil.

One of these reasons includes the soil being blown away by the wind.

Another reason is if you used your hand or your foot to pat down some of the soil.

And if you have kids, they may have climbed into the garden bed and walked on some of the soil.

If the soil is too compacted, you may need to add some peat to it to help fluff it back up.

You can also used a spade or a hoe to move the soil around.

Once you have done so, add some more soil to the raised garden bed to get it back to the level that you need it,

Add poles and trellises

If you are planning on planting crops that need to go up into the air, you will need to add poles or trellises to your raised garden bed.

These plants include, but are not limited to:

  • Cucumbers
  • Grapes
  • Tomatoes
  • Grapes
  • Squash
  • Beans
  • Peas

If these plants are a part of your plan, make sure to have these poles or trellises and make sure to have them in place ahead of time.

So when the time comes for the plants to really start growing, you already have everything you need.

Summary

Raised garden beds are a great way to have a garden.

The fact that it is raised a few feet above the ground helps to avoid the weeds growing from below.

It also helps protect your garden against any predators that might be digging to get into your garden.

So once the winter is over and early spring has started, make sure to take a few steps at the beginning of the spring to make sure your raised garden bed is ready for you to plant.

This includes checking your raised garden bed for repairs, checking for and removing weeds, adding more soil/peat as neccessary, and adding poles and trellises for tall crops.

Bill Lantz

Bill Lantz is a database analyst by day and a weekend warrior by... weekend. He's currently building up his own miniature homestead in Central Utah with his wife and six kids. Some of his interests include knowing random trivia about films, reading history books, and playing video games with the boys.

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