Agriplex Heritage Skills: Raised bed gardening

North Alabama Agriplex Director Rachel Dawsey shows off the facility’s raised bed garden Tuesday evening. (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. –  It was on the frigid side Tuesday night, but that didn’t stop avid gardeners dreaming of spring from turning out for the North Alabama Agriplex’s Heritage Skills class on raised bed gardening.

Agriplex Director Rachel Dawsey led the lecture, which allowed participants to explore the weed-less, productive and instant technique of raised bed gardening. Lessons included how to build a raised bed garden, irrigation, what soil mixes to use, various planting techniques and how raised bed gardening can be used for year-round gardening.

The Agriplex has raised bed gardens, and Dawsey explained how those came to be.

“The man who owned this property had a brick factory for production and so the soil was just field dirt and not good at all,” she said. “We knew we couldn’t plant into the ground, so that’s why we went ahead and started with raised beds.”

Raised bed gardening is form of gardening in which the soil is raised above surrounding soil and enclosed within a containment unit which is usually made of wood, rock or concrete. The gardens can be any length or shape.

Dawsey said the advantages of raised bed gardening include:

  • Instant gardening (immediate results)
  • Great soil (You get to use your own)
  • No weeds (at first- they will come after a few months potentially)
  • When building, can be raised for whatever height you want for gardening ease (easily accessible)
  • Early and late gardening seasons (can potentially grow all year)
  • When well-defined, looks aesthetically pleasing

She also shared some disadvantages:

  • Fire ants like to make their homes in the beds potentially
  • Dries out quicker (need to monitor and water)
  • Can be expensive (depends on how you build)

During a break in Tuesday night’s program, Dawsey showed those interested the raised beds located at the Agriplex. She noted the raised beds still have plants growing and are able to be harvested despite the cold weather.

The Heritage Skills Adult Program is a monthly series that provides the opportunity to learn skills passed through generations. All Heritage Skills programs are $5 per person and begin at 6 p.m. on select dates unless otherwise noted. Visit to register.

Copyright 2020 Humble Roots, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

North Alabama Agriplex Director Rachel Dawsey gave a presentation on raised bed gardening during the Heritage Skills program Tuesday evening. (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)