Raised Beds
and Hilling Plants
There are two reasons to raise or elevate garden plants; to provide good drainage, and to increase the soil temperature. Some plants prefer both of these conditions for maximum growth and production.

When soil is elevated, it increases the surface area exposed to the surrounding air, and  at the same time loses some contact with the cool Earth. Plus the cooling moisture tends to drain away from the elevated root zone. All this has the effect of increasing the soil temperature in the area of the root system. Just a couple degrees may be beneficial to some heat-loving plants.

Most plants that love heat also detest wet roots. Being elevated allows the water to drain down into the lower surrounding soil. But this also means that you may have to water elevated plants more often than if they were not elevated.

Elevation may be done to individual plants, or rows of plants or a whole bed of similar or different plants. The idea is to provide the two conditions that elevation allows. However, the larger the elevated area, the less will be the desired effect. Having one plant elevated will expose all sides to warming air. Having a row elevated will expose two sides to warming air. Raised Beds expose only the outside plants to warming air, and then only if a retaining "wall" is not used.

You can "Hill" individual plants or several plants with a shovel or hoe. Hilled Rows can also be made with a Hilling tool that you push through your garden, or by a Hilling attachment on a Garden Tractor.

Garden Soil may be scraped into "Beds" or brought from a different location. This is a job that may require earth-moving equipment from a Wheelbarrow to a Front-End Loader. The Topsoil may also be taken from paths where it will not be needed to grow plants. Imported soil may need to be Amended to improve its texture and nutrient composition.

Raised Beds may be retained by garden timbers or border retainers like bricks or stones. But these retainers cut down on the warming effect by shading the soil. Beds are normally raised by 8 to 12 inches above the surrounding soil. Beds should not be wider than twice the length of your outstretched arm, so you can reach in to cultivate, weed, and harvest produce. Raised Beds can be as long as you desire.

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