Raised garden beds are the ultimate solution for gardeners with limited physical capabilities. Unfortunately, while the cost is worth it, not everyone has the budget. Are you looking to raise the height of your vegetable garden without the expense of building and filling raised beds? What are the some viable alternatives?
Hang it up.
We gardeners sometimes forget that even veggies can grow in hanging pots. This can be done cheaply enough, especially if you already have a lot of pots on hand. If you don't, check the free section on Craigslist for discarded pots. Hanging them is simple enough. All you need is a little cheap rope in three equal sections, knotted together at the bottom and top for hanging. Hang them from shepherds hooks, fence posts or whatever is handy.
*Uses less soil
Build a pot tower.
Setting regular pots on the ground makes veggies slightly more accessible. Still, it may not be quite high enough. Instead, try inverting one pot and setting the other on top. Gluing the pots together will keep them more stable. Just be sure to align the drain holes and keep them clear. You can also mount single pots on poles or PVC pipe to raise them.
*Bottom pot allows expanding roots to breathe, while still protected.
*Less water waste, so more water for other plants.
Start low, grow up
So, you can't reach the ground to care for your plants? That's OK. Taller plants can still be planted in ground. Planting the seeds or seedling will be the only issue. Most of the maintenance on vegetables like tomatoes is done at a higher level. This is also true for trellised veggies like peas. Use long handled tools for weeding. You won't have to bend over as much.
Note: You might be surprised at what will grow up a trellis. With a little extra support, you can use this technique for melons and large squash.
Got a garden work table or two? Why not use them all season to keep pots within your reach? No tables? Place scrap wood across cement blocks or inverted pots to make your own raised table. Got a garden bench that's no good for sitting on? Those make a great place to set pots too. Once those veggies start growing, no one will know it's less than perfect.
*Be sure your table allows for drainage. This can be done by drilling holes.
*Using wood scrap tables allows you to glue pots to the table for stability in high winds.
Go container crazy.
Just about anything can be used as a container for planting vegetables. From re-useable shopping bags to empty buckets, they all raise the level of your garden. Remember to drill holes for drainage in non-porous containers. Be sure to check the material content. Some containers can leech toxins into your soil. It's entirely possible to raise the level of your garden without using raised beds. Plus, you can do it with materials you already have!
Portions of this article were previously published by this author on a now closed Yahoo property.