September 25, 2023

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Skip the wooden raised bed garden and try one of these alternatives this summer

With lumber prices through the roof, building a raised garden bed is a pricey possibility for this summer. But you don’t need fresh lumber to create a good, useful garden space.

Here are some alternatives to wooden raised bed gardens, perfect for trying this summer.

Straw bale gardening

Who needs a raised bed when you have a bale of straw? The straw bale gardening method involves decomposing a few inches of the straw using a nitrogen-based fertilizer, then planting seeds in the top layer of composted straw.

The straw continues to decompose and support the plants as the garden grows, and at the end of the season, the entire bale can go straight into a compost pile. Because the straw bales are tall, they’re also a great option for people who may need a higher bed due to back pain or other ergonomic reasons.

Here are some of the basics of straw bale gardening to get you started.


Hugelkultur, which translates to “mound culture” or “hill culture” in German, is a method of planting that involves growing plants on a mound of decaying material. To make a hugel bed, dig a trench about 1 foot deep and add woody debris, top the pile with compostable material, and cover with the soil you removed to make the trench. You can immediately plant a cover crop or a diverse array of vegetables into the mound.