By Kira Hamman
There are many, many ways to grow tomatoes, and most of them yield beautiful, delicious results.
However, some are easier, or more productive, or better suited to certain locations than others.
Growing tomatoes in raised beds is one of the best ways to increase your chances of a bountiful harvest without a lot of backbreaking labor.The soil in a raised bed warms up faster (we all know how tomatoes love warm soil) and drains better (we all know how they hate to be soggy) than in a regular bed.
Since you don’t step in a raised bed, the soil stays loose, which makes adding compost and nutrients easier and means you don’t have to work as hard to get the bed ready in the spring. Plus, the tidy edges of a raised bed make maintaining paths easier, which may not directly affect the tomatoes but does affect the pleasantness of working in the garden.
The caveat, of course, is that you have to actually build the bed. But since the garden isn’t planted yet, what else do you have to do? Right. So here’s a quick, easy, cheap plan for building your very own raised beds. Do it this weekend!
Materials (for one bed):
– Four 4-foot lengths of 1” x 6” cedar plank. Home centers and lumber yards sell this and will cut it for you, if you like. If you have leftovers, cut them to 1′ lengths, soak them overnight in water (or wine, if you’re feeling decadent), and grill whole fish on them. Yum!
– Four galvanized steel 90Â° angle brackets and screws to fit them.
– Compost or soil.
Choose a relatively level place to put your bed. It should be on soil, but the soil can have grass or weeds growing in it because when you fill the bed with soil those things will get smothered.
Arrange your boards into a square so that each board has one end outside the board next to it and the other end inside the board next to it, like this.
Holding the boards upright (perpendicular to the ground), fit a bracket around the outside of each corner about two inches from the top and mark where the screws will go (it might be good to have a helper for this part). Take the brackets off and drill pilot holes where you made the marks, then hold the boards back together again and screw on all the brackets.
Finally, fill your bed with good soil. Aged compost is perfect, but decent topsoil will work as long as you add some organic fertilizer. Level the top of the soil and presto!
Your raised bed is ready to be planted. Wasn’t that easy?