Raised garden beds are a good idea in Norway as the soil profile is not very deep and the low temperatures mean that the growing season is short, on average only around 4 months in length.
With a short growing season, adding 2-4 weeks allows for other crops to be grown and also for crops to have a longer maturation time, like potatoes, pumpkins amongst others. You can add even more growing time if you have the space to start the germination of seeds and the early sowing of seedlings indoor.
The warming of the soil in a raised bed adds this extra 2-4 weeks and take advantage of the extremely intense spring and summer, where up to 20 hours of daylight is present in June and July.
The raised beds I am making are made out of the remainder of boards that we used for our garden terrace. They are high pressure, high temperature pressed bamboo and will last 25+ years, so hopefully I won’t spend many days each year replacing rotten garden bed boards. The nice thing about using the leftovers from the terrace cover, is also that you create a more unified design to your garden. It looks a little cleaner and neater than if you use lots of different materials. But that all depends on what you prefer. A wide variety in materials will have its charm too.
The garden beds I make are of varying depth, of 15, 30 and 45 cm which gives flexibility to grow shallow root crops like onions and garlic through to deep root crops like carrots and parsnips.
The overall shape of the entire garden has taken a while to get done and I am happy with the result so far.
Tips for garden beds I have learnt would be:
1. Take the time to make solid garden beds on day one. This may take extra time initially but saves lots of maintenance time in the years to come
2. Use good materials. These can be new, recycled or salvaged. I prefer to recycle and reuse as it fits on with the whole garden cycle. Recycled often means low or no cost other than some elbow grease, and definitely does not mean inferior quality.
3. Have fun and get kids involved. Sharing the gardening experience makes it lots of fun and less like hard work, and kids love helping. They will grow to remember the times you spent in the garden with fondness, like I did with my father.
Involve your kids:
Unless you are working with dangerous power tools, the kids can easily participate. Give them some nails and a hammer and let them try and see what it is like. It you are afraid that they may hurt themselves, then you can always buy them toy tools that look fairly authentic, but they may quickly understand that they are not real and demand their own proper ones. 🙂
Our boys love to help out, especially the 4 year old. And it is quite amazing what they can do if they are allowed to try.
Take some time to understand what your child is capable of doing. Our youngest will happily get nails or screws for the work, but is only allowed to do so under supervision. The older one really likes to use a hammer, and with a little assistance, he can hammer nails into soft wood (or a cardboard box for that matter). They can both help carry material to the build site, sweep the ground of sawdust and similar.
The only time we normally keep them at a safe distance is when we need to use the big saw.
Allowing them to help out, helps make them more independent too, thus allowing us to work more in the garden without having to constantly entertain them too. 🙂