Whether you’re planting outside or inside a greenhouse, raised beds are a great addition to any yard or balcony. Not only can you plant herbs, spices and vegetables on a small surface (hello, exotic smelling balcony), it’s also easily set up and allows you to get growing right away. Whether you want to plant seeds or baby plants, a raised bed will allow even a novice gardener to grow some yummie greens.
When you have a greenhouse, you can grow crops in a raised bed all year long! Let’s take a look at how to use raised beds in a greenhouse!
Advantages of raised garden beds in a greenhouse
There are plenty of advantages you’ll get to experience when doing raised bed gardening.
Better organization: When you tend to get a bit carried away while planting in your greenhouse (like I do), it can get messy with pots and plants all over the place. A raised bed helps you keep track of what you’ve planted where and allows you to group similar plants. I for example have a herbs and spices raised bed, a lettuce raised bed and a fruit raised bed.
No pests: Greenhouses work wonderfully for preventing pests from getting to your hard work. When placing your plants in a raised bed, you have even less of a chance of bugs eating away your plants. Pots on the ground can sometimes still be invaded by slugs and other ground bugs, even though it seems impossible, they still find ways to enter your greenhouse.
Better drainage: The more elevated your garden bed, the better the chance that gravity will do the work and help drain your soil of any excess water. Overwatering can harm your crops and in pots you need to be extra careful for water to accumulate. A raised bed will decrease the risk of overwatering.
Less back-breaking work: Ah yes. Gardening can be hard work. Almost to the point where it can be detrimental to your back thanks to all that bending over. No need to give up gardening because you have back or knee problems! A raised bed in your greenhouse will allow you to grow your crops year round.
The only disadvantage of gardening with raised garden beds (inside or outside a greenhouse), is the cost. The initial investment of a raised bed is obviously higher than when you’re just buying some plant pots. However, a well built raised bed will last you many years and offers you so many advantages during that time. Are you a handy (wo)man? Build your own raised bed and control the cost!
Raised beds vs shelves
Most greenhouses are organized with shelves, and raised beds might be a little less common. In our opinion, a combination of both will allow you to optimally use the available space. When you just use shelves, you have the option to move your crops around, but they won’t receive an equal amount of light. In a raised bed, you create a very constant condition for all plants, which will have a positive effect on their growth. When your greenhouse is large enough, you can put shelves on the sides (or on one side) and place one or two raised beds in the middle of your greenhouse. Make sure you have plenty of room to move around though!
Hoop houses: What are they?
Hoop houses are temporary greenhouses that you can use while you are growing your garden during the winter months. Their purpose is the same as any other greenhouse. It will have the ability to provide a warm, temperature-controlled environment for your plants. Plus, it provides you with excellent insulation on colder days. And when the weather warms up, you can easily tear them down and instantly give them the same environment that you’ve used outdoors.
The good news is hoop houses are not as expensive to build as a full-scale greenhouse. All it takes are three things: PVC pipes, plastic sheeting, and some stakes. That’s it. To build a hoop house, simply make measurements for the desired size and plant the stakes alongside your raised beds. Then bend the PVC piping and place them over the garden beds themselves. Wrap the piping around with the plastic sheeting and you should be in business.
Obviously your plants won’t receive the same kind of protection in a hoop house as in a greenhouse. They will be protected against mild winter conditions, such as light rain, but as soon as the temperature gets too low, frost can still destroy your plants. When you live in a climate with mild winters, a hoop house can offer sufficient protection to allow your plants to survive winter.
Building a raised bed
While we choose to purchase our raised garden beds, because we don’t want it collapsing after a couple of months (which tells you more about our DIY skills than it does about building your own raised bed), it’s perfectly possible to build a raised bed yourself. Take a look at this video if you’re thinking about building a raised bed: How to build a raised bed cheap and easy, backyard gardening.
Planting in a raised bed
You can grow pretty much anything in a raised bed, but there are some plants that really benefit from the controlled conditions a garden bed offers them.
- The easiest option for raised beds is to create a little herb garden, perfect for beginners! As herbs don’t need much room, it allows you to combine many different kinds on a small surface. Basil, chives, dille, thyme, … We have a raised bed in our greenhouse, purely dedicated to herbs and we love taking a pair of scissors and a bowl while cooking dinner to add homegrown basil or thyme to our dish.
- Lettuce and spinach are also a good and easy choice to plant. They love raised beds, as they need soil that’s not too wet.
- Root vegetables, such as carrots and beets will thrive in a garden bed, they need gentle soil, free of rocks, to optimally grow.
- Some plants require a lot of nutrients, such as onions and tomatoes. Because of the controlled environment a raised bed offers, you can add plenty of compost to give them the best circumstances. Take into account that onions need a long time to grow, so these will grow even better in a raised bed inside a greenhouse, as this will extend the growing season.
What kind of raised bed do I need?
We mostly use raised beds in our greenhouse, but most raised beds will work great both inside and outside a greenhouse.
Raised garden beds usually come in metal or wood. A wooden raised bed has a more natural look and will usually last you 10 to 15 years. Metal raised beds are the most durable and can last 20 to 25 years. Price wise there’s very little difference. There’s cheaper and more expensive options on both ends. To be honest, it’s mostly a question of taste… We prefer the wooden raised beds because they fit nicely in our yard and greenhouse. When you’re more into an industrial look, steel is your way to go!
Another decision to make is whether or not you want your raised garden bed to be elevated. You can place raised beds on the ground, but you can also choose a higher model. The advantage of an elevated one is that it’s even better for your back and knees and the slugs will have a harder time reaching your plants. However, if you’re looking for a larger raised bed, it will always be a lower model. The elevated garden beds are more suited for smaller surfaces.
The best raised beds for greenhouses
As you know, we like to share our favorite products! If you have any questions or recommendations for us, we’d love to hear from you!
Wooden raised beds
Metal raised beds
Photo source: Rhino Garden Supply