Raised beds can be any shape you like, although rectangular is traditional. The simplest raised beds are freestanding, meaning they are created by simply hoeing up soil to create a bed that's higher than the surrounding soil.Freestanding beds are a good option if you aren't sure exactly how your garden is going to be laid out. You'll need to maintain them by periodically hoeing up soil, compost, and mulch that have spread from the beds out into the pathways. Make the beds narrow enough that you can easily reach the center of the bed from the sides - from 3'/.9 m to perhaps 5'/1.5 m wide - so you can tend plants without stepping on the soil.It's best to create ones that aren't too long, too. Otherwise it's tempting to walk across them if you need to move from one row to another, and you'll compact the soil in the process.Reprinted from The Veggie Gardener's Answer Book Copyright 2008 by Barbara W. Ellis, with permission from Storey Publishing. Creative Commons photo credit: Diroussel
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