Some Benefits of Box Gardening
The idea of having a vegetable garden at our cottage on Georgian Bay was very exciting to us. For years we dabbled in cottage gardening – flower boxes, some potted plants on the deck, a small bed of tomatoes and some herbs. But we often arrived at the cottage only to find our herbs wilted, our tomato plants nibbled on by the neighbourhood critters, and our flowers desperately holding on.
A couple of years ago, we began tossing around the idea of building some raised garden boxes on our property. The idea excited us and so we researched different ways of building boxes, we surveyed our property for the perfect sunny place, we contemplated how we might protect our harvest from the rodents, deer and insects, and how we might keep the boxes watered during the week.
We decided to start with one raised garden box, to install an inexpensive watering system, and to perhaps hire a local company to help us maintain our garden, if need be. Four years later, we have five raised box gardens and our knowledge of how to grow and maintain an organic vegetable garden on the shores of Georgian Bay has evolved significantly. There have been some awesome years where our garden has produced abundantly and there have been years (like last year), when our garden was “just ok.” But what has been consistent is our learning and our ongoing fascination with the box gardening!
Some benefits of box gardening:
1. Ergonomically advantageous: box gardens can be built to suit your needs ergonomically (i.e. distance between beds, height, width, sitting options). At the proper height, it can improve access for gardeners who use a wheelchair, those with mobility challenges, and for children.
2. Manageable: box gardens are ideal for gardening extensively in a smaller space.
3. Soil quality: the soil and compost blend can be customized and there is virtually no soil erosion.
4. Prevention of soil compaction and plant damage: plant roots are not packed down as the paths between the beds are used to access the plants.
5. Less weeding and maintenance: once the soil in a raised bed has stabilized, compaction is almost non-existent so the need for seasonal tilling is minimal. Weed populations decrease over time in a raised bed that is well cared for and mulched.
6. Better drainage: a well prepared box garden allows for better drainage than traditional in-ground garden beds
7. Increased sun exposure: creates warmer beds, making it conducive to increased plant diversity and an extended growing season.
8. Plants can be planted more closely together, increasing your potential for a higher yield.
9. Material conservation: with a concentrated gardening space management of water, fertilizer, mulch and soil amendments can be more carefully controlled, leading to less waste.
Our next blog: Building Your Raised Box Garden