Planting and growing vegetables in raised beds is a fantastic way to boost your crops’ productivity and maximize space. Raised bed structures provide essential growing environments, lessening the need for bending, weeding, allowing gardeners to control soil quality, ward off pests, and deliver a quintessential warm and fertile environment for root systems to thrive.
We can’t say enough positive things about planting and growing vegetables in raised beds, but some key considerations can help ensure that your long-term investment is worthwhile. Check out some of the vital tips for what you can do to give your vegetables their best chances for success when planting and growing vegetables in raised beds.
Raised Bed Soil Composition and pH
Soil composition is a crucial element to planting and growing vegetables in a raised bed. Filling your raised vegetable garden is an opportunity for gardeners to get superior soil and tweak your soil’s quality with beneficial amendments, so you are consistently adding nutrients to your planting medium. As a raised bed gardener, you are in complete control of the soil your crops will grow in. When planting and growing vegetables in a raised bed, aim for a soil that ranges from between 5.8 and 7.5 on the pH scale to ensure optimal growth.
Select an area of your yard that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight when planting and growing vegetables in raised beds. Before constructing raised garden beds, track the sun in your yard to pinpoint the bed location.
Raised Bed Watering
Raised bed soils dry out quicker than in-ground soils. When planting and growing vegetables in raised beds, be sure to water your garden thoroughly and regularly.
- Add a couple of inches of mulch to your raised bed gardens to help the soil retain moisture.
- Water thoroughly in the morning so that the water doesn’t evaporate away in the hot sun. Morning watering has the added benefit of giving the foliage a chance to dry in the sunshine, protecting leaves from disease.
- Weeds will steal a great deal of moisture and nutrients away from your vegetables, so it is vital to keep them at bay. Yank them out and dispose of them as soon as you see them. Weeds are usually easier to pull out before they take hold or after they seed themselves in your whole garden bed. They are also easier to pull out when soil is wet from rain or watering.
Your raised vegetable garden is only as good for your plants as the soil you fill it with. Vegetable plants need regular nutrition to grow to their fullest potential. Many vegetables are heavy feeders of nutrients, and if not fed adequately, they will compete with one another for food. Here are some things you can do to infuse nutrients into the soil when planting and growing vegetables in raised beds.
- Amend your soils with well-decomposed compost, worm castings, and other organic material at least twice yearly.
- Administer an organic slow-release fertilizer to your garden beds.
- You might also consider planting heavy feeders alongside plants that fix nitrogen back into the soil as they grow, like beans and other legumes.
Raised Bed Garden Spacing and Height Considerations
It is essential to understand your vegetable plants’ spread and height requirements so that you can space them accordingly when planting and growing vegetables in raised beds. Plants that are too close together can overtake one another and compete for nutrients, water, and sunlight, never fully reaching their potential and becoming more prone to disease from poor air circulation. Consider how the growth habit of each plant will affect the neighboring plants in the same garden bed.
- Always check for height and spread estimates before planting. Even a tiny seed can grow into a massive plant.
- In raised garden beds, it is possible to allow plants that spread to overflow over the beds’ sides, or you can place support trellises or obelisks to grow vertically. These growing options can maximize the grow space exponentially when planting and growing vegetables in raised beds.
- Tall growing plants can overshadow compact varieties, so place trellised and high reaching varieties such as corn, okra, and vining bean varieties toward the back or the center of the garden bed so that smaller vegetables still get enough direct sunlight.
- When planted according to height, you won’t have to reach through taller crops trying to locate your harvest.
- You can set plants closer together to ensure that every square inch of the garden bed is productive when you utilize vertical and overflow techniques.
- Small-space gardening techniques, such as succession planting and vertical supports, ensure that space is used as efficiently as possible.
Raised Bed Depth Considerations
Large and small varieties of vegetables have different depth requirements even when they share the same garden bed. If soil is not deep enough to accommodate deeply rooted vegetable plants, their roots will impede their neighbors’ root systems. Ensure that your garden beds have a significant soil depth, so that root systems do not interfere with other plants in the garden bed.
Raised Bed Pest Prevention
It is easier to manage damaging insects and deter animal pests from munching on your vegetables when you are planting and growing vegetables in a raised bed.
- You can easily cover beds with row covers and more effectively control pests with companion planting tactics.
- Raised beds inherently help protect the root systems of plants from tunneling pests as well.
- Consider laying down hardware cloth along the bottom of your raised beds for an added measure of protection.
- Visit your raised bed garden on a daily basis and check each plant for signs of disease or pests, picking off dead or diseased foliage or easily spied bugs.
- Interplant with flowers or plants that are natural deterrents of pests.
- Interplanting with plants can also attract beneficial pollinators and beneficial insects that feed on damaging garden pests.
Raised Bed Succession Planting
Even in small spaces, you can harvest an array of vegetables throughout the growing season if you do a little planning. Succession planting is the practice of seeding crops at intervals to maintain a consistent supply of produce throughout the growing season. Succession planting also involves planting a new plant after harvesting the previous crop.
Check out the days to maturation for your garden vegetables. Sometimes you can get creative and sneak in other vegetables that mature more quickly or nestle in a succession crop after a large vining plant has stopped producing. Plant and obtain a harvest of radishes and lettuce greens before larger plants take over the area with their swooping vines. Once large crops like tomatoes, squash, and eggplant stop producing, pull them out and plant later season crops after them that thrive in the cooler fall temperatures like broccoli, lettuce, and kale. Be sure to amend the soil with organic matter before planting the next crop.
Raised Bed Companion Planting
When planting and growing vegetables in raised beds, companion planting can significantly enhance your crops’ productivity. For just about every vegetable that you grow, it is promising that an advantageous companion plant will boost soil nutrient levels, deter pests, bring in beneficial pollinators, improve plants’ flavor, or attract predatory insects that seek to feed on your veggies. Here are some of our favorite pairings when planting and growing vegetables in raised beds.
- Plant onions near carrots to repel the carrot fly.
- Plant basil with tomatoes and peppers to improve the flavor and repel aphids and spider mites.
- Add marigolds near tomatoes to ward off nematodes.
- Plant corn and beans together. Corn is a heavy feeder of nitrogen, and beans release nitrogen back into the soil as they grow. Beans can also use corn as vertical support structures to vine on.
- Place marigolds and nasturtiums near cucumbers to repel the cucumber beetle and aphids.
- Plant carrots and broccoli in the shade of taller tomato plants for heat protection.
Many more duos are beneficial to plant together in vegetable gardens, and some plants do not make good neighbors. Trial and error can help in this process to discovering what works and what does not.
Raised garden beds are the ideal place for planting and growing vegetables. Not only are they tidy and decorative growing spaces, but they can help overcome headaches such as troublesome soil, weeds, and pests. Growing vegetables in raised beds and implementing some pro planting and growing strategies can help you maximize every square inch of your growing space and significantly improve your garden yields.