Self-watering raised gardens are now available, making these gardens a realistic option; even for the busiest gardener. Consider one with a large built-in water reservoir that extends time between watering.
Create mixed plantings of edibles and flowers for beautiful combinations in raised beds. Include some edible flowers like nasturtiums, pansies and calendulas that you, the hummingbirds and butterflies will enjoy. Lettuce, parsley, kale, Swiss chard and red cabbage combine nicely with most flowers and chives provide an edible vertical accent. Select compact vegetable varieties like Patio Choice yellow cherry tomato, Patio Pride peas, Mascotte bush beans and Astia zucchini suited to container and raised bed culture. And if concerned about maintaining the integrity of the patio or deck surface consider a Patio Raised Bed with Base (gardeners.com) that protects the underlying surface.
Elevated gardens raise your plantings to a comfortable height. No bending or kneeling needed to plant, weed and harvest. These are basically containers on legs. Many have wheels so you can move them out of the way or into the sunlight as needed.
Look for those with built-in trellises and supports when growing vines like cucumbers, pole beans and Malabar spinach and tall plants like tomatoes, dinner plate dahlias and cosmos. But like containers, they dry out more quickly than in-ground gardens and need frequent irrigation.
Look for easy care, self-watering containers like the Self-Watering Standing Garden with large reservoirs to maximize the time between watering. Look for those with fill tubes and water-level indicators to help you determine when to water. These features help keep your garden looking and producing its best. You’ll have plenty of fresh greens for salads, herbs for seasoning drinks and meals, and flowers to dress up your table.
Don’t fret if you already have a raised bed or elevated garden that lacks these easy-care features. DIY irrigation kits are available and easy to design for these types of gardens. Select systems that allow you to customize and fit the irrigation layout to your gardening needs.
Further reduce maintenance by incorporating a slow release fertilizer at planting. These types of fertilizers release small amounts of nutrients over a longer period of time. No weekly mixing and applications needed. Just give them a mid-season boost if needed and according to the fertilizer label.
Reducing ongoing maintenance of raised beds and container gardens makes it practical to expand your gardening space. Just be sure to fill them with a quality potting mix and plants suited to the growing conditions and in no time, you’ll be enjoying the flavor and beauty these gardens provide.
Melinda Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine.