I'm a total advocate for stand up vegetable gardening because as we age it tends to get harder to get down and even harder to get back up! That's where raised bed food gardening comes into play as a wonderfully convenient way to work in the patch without too much bending. I've also got several old injuries and I've found stand up gardening helps me greatly especially after a big day in the garden when those aches and pains tell me I've over done it again, however, if I'm working around raised beds I'm always less sore and enjoying my day a whole lot more.
A Kookaburra sits on a trellis post in front of a raised round galvanised garden bed growing corn and Jerusalem artichokes (image above)
Many of the packaged raised garden beds on the market are around the 40cm high mark (or just over a foot) and whilst this is ok I still prefer at least double this height. The high side raised colorbond or galvanised round garden beds are typically between 80 – 100cm high so that's saving a metre of bending over space above the ground. Having a garden bed this high off the ground makes a significant difference especially if you've had a long day in the garden when you would have otherwise been hunched over the standard vegetable patch instead you've been able to garden at waist high saving a stiff neck and sore back!
Zucchini plants flowing over a round galvanised raised garden bed (image above)
Diameter of the round garden bed is important also because the last thing you would want is a waist high bed where you can't reach the middle at arms length. When deciding on buying a raised round garden bed the best width (diameter) in my opinion is about 1200mm (1.2 metres) or a touch over 3 feet across. This width makes it easy to reach into the middle of the bed when harvesting crops or preparing/working the garden bed.
Kale is a great crop for a raised garden bed (image above)
Practically any food crop or indeed ornamental plants can be grown in a round raised garden bed. Keeping the same plant makes a great effect, but surprisingly, a lot of different crops can be grown successfully together in the one small raised bed. It's not unusual for me to cram in several food plants into the one 3 feet wide round bed – in the image below there's spinach, bok choy, cucamelons, endive, and a tomato tumbling over the edge.
A Tigerella tomato plant tumbling over a round raised garden bed (image above)
I often hear people say, "raised garden beds dry out too quickly" but that's not true and the main reason why some people have water holding issues with raised beds is because they fill them with soil meant for pots. High sided raised garden beds such as these should be treated the same as any standard in-ground vegetable garden and filled with quality soil plus good compost for the growing medium. Yes, the bottom of the bed (say the bottom half) can be any sort of fill plus drainage material like sand or crushed granite but in the top half any good soil and compost will do. Don't look at one of these round galvanised garden beds as a big pot because it's NOT – for a start, the base is not enclosed so it's unlikely the bed will become waterlogged and secondly the surface area plus straight down walls of the container ensures it won't act like a pot at all.
Assembly, of raised galvanised garden beds are pretty easy and they usually come flat packed with simple instructions on how to put them together. See my video below for a demonstration on how I assemble mine…
Where can you buy round raised galvanised or colorbond garden beds? Well, if you're in Australia it's easy because these beds are very popular and were born out of our love for steel tanks, roofing, fencing, and many other products made from this material. They can be purchased online or at selected garden centres – probably easier to find online to be honest. Unfortunately, this type of raised garden bed has not hit the USA, UK, or Europe in such gusto and as far as I'm aware are difficult to find in those countries not to say they aren't around though… .
Prices can vary for the sized raised beds described in this article but recently I purchased two new round beds for a very reasonable price here on eBay!
So, if you've never tried stand up vegetable gardening in a round raised garden bed then I recommend you give it a try because your body will thank you for it. Remember… You don't have to be self-sufficient in everything, just be self-sufficient in something!