Raised bed gardening is the art of cultivating plants in structures above the ground’s surface. The benefits of raised bed gardening are innumerable. Soil that is raised off the ground can be controlled for quality, creating a warm, nutrient-rich, well-draining growing environment for optimal root development and plant growth.
Raised bed structures allow for better soil, can maximize your growing space, lessen the need for bending, weeding, and can even ward off pests. Raised beds can be designed in so many ways and be constructed from wood, metal, stone, and brick; but what to plant in a raised garden bed?
The exciting answer is that you can grow just about anything in a raised garden bed as long as growing conditions such as sunlight, spacing, and temperature are on target for your plants.
Raised Garden Bed Fruits and Vegetables
Fruit and vegetable plants have high nutrient needs and thrive in raised garden beds. If you are looking for what to plant in a raised garden bed, check out this list of our favorite raised bed plants.
Tomato plants thrive on stretching their roots deep into loose soil, eager to feed heavily. They love full sun conditions and make fantastic additions to raised garden beds. Since tomato plants can grow quite tall, plant them in the rear of a raised garden bed. Add tomato cages for support.
Legumes fix nitrogen back into the soil as they grow, so they do double duty in the raised garden bed. They boost the nutrient content of the soil while producing plentiful harvests. They often can be found in freestanding and climbing varieties, both of which can be cultivated in raised beds.
- Bush and Pole Bean Varieties
Kale and Swiss Chard
Kale and Swiss Chard are fantastic late-season crops in raised beds. They keep the soil from compaction and thrive in cooler temperatures, and can be covered with hoop houses or cold frames to extend their growing season, even supplying you with a fall and winter harvest.
Lettuce, Spinach and Mixed Greens
Lettuce plants, spinach, and mixed salad greens thrive in the warm soil temperatures and well-draining soil of raised beds. As a gardener, you will love that you can extend your growing season by planting them earlier and successively all the way through winter with the proper protections in place.
Brassicas make great first-round early crops in a raised bed environment. They have a tendency to bolt in hot temperatures and love the regulated soil temperatures that raised beds provide. Soil is kept warmer, which can be season extending for both early and later season crops. They can also be covered easily in raised beds, making it easy to obtain a fall and winter harvest.
- Brussel Sprouts
Peppers and Eggplant
When we think about what to plant in a raised garden bed, eggplant and fun peppers often come to mind for a good reason. They thrive in the warm soils of raised beds and are heavy feeders of nutrients. Raised beds make it easier for gardeners to keep up with these bountiful producers’ nutrient and watering requirements.
Carrots are phenomenal candidates for raised bed growing. Raised beds provide loose well-draining soil where carrots can grow unimpeded by rocky ground. Because they produce fruit underneath the soil and their habit is relatively low, they can be tucked in easily under taller plantings’ protection.
Beets and Radishes
Beet plants and radishes are lovely root vegetables that thrive in the loose soil of raised beds, and they grow particularly well when not in competition with weeds or impeded by rocky soil. Due to their quick maturation times, they make ideal succession-planted crops.
Cucumbers will flourish in raised beds. Allow them to cascade over the sides of raised beds or up trellises to maximize space for these prolific fruiting plants.
Celery is just begging to settle its roots in a raised bed. It can be a finicky plant that requires plenty of moisture, cool temperatures, nutrient-rich soil, and a long growing season. Raised beds can keep aphids and root nematodes at bay as well.
Potatoes thrive in a raised garden bed. Growing in soil that is well-draining prevents rot, and the loose soil allows tubers to form fully, unimpeded by dense soil and rocks.
Large fruiting plants like melons thrive in raised beds. Warm, pH-balanced soil that is rich in nutrients and provides adequate drainage is the ideal growing environment for juicy melons of all varieties. These vining plants can be allowed to spill over the sides of raised beds or be trained to climb trellises or other climbing structures to maximize space.
Strawberry plants produce particularly well where the soil is warm, and the sunlight is plentiful. Raised beds offer these optimal conditions, and they also help protect strawberry plants from menacing slugs that seek to feed on succulent fruits.
Squash and Zucchini
Large vegetables like squash and zucchini can most definitely be planted in raised beds. Bush varieties have an open habit and make excellent additions to raised beds. You can also allow quick-growing, vining plants to flow out over the edges of raised beds or add trellises for them to climb on.
Raised Bed Garden Flowers and Herbs
We focused a great deal on vegetables and fruits when highlighting what to plant in a raised garden bed. But herbs and flowers are also phenomenal growers in raised beds. Many of them make great companion plants, drawing beneficial pollinators to the garden bed, masking the scent of prized vegetables, and protecting them from garden pests. They can also be quite beautiful.
Raised Garden Bed Companion Planting
When deciding on what to plant in a raised garden bed pairing plants together in the same raised garden bed can be mutually beneficial, boost plant growth and production, draw beneficial pollinators, enhance flavor, and even ward off destructive pests. Some plants are tall and can provide much-needed shade and protection to plants that thrive in partial sun conditions. Other plants draw beneficial pollinators to the garden or even act as pest deterrents when planted in proximity to individual plants. Some plants should not be planted in the same garden bed. Here are some suggested pairings when thinking when planning what to plant in a raised garden bed.
- Basil repels mosquitos and flies and can improve the flavor of tomatoes.
- Thyme is a scented herb that repels certain varieties of parasitic worms that seek to destroy strawberry plants.
- Plant lavender near fruit to attract beneficial pollinators.
- Nasturtiums, marigolds, sunflowers, and zinnias can be helpful at repelling harmful insects
- Cosmos attract many helpful insects that feed on problem insects that eat vegetables.
- Marigolds keep damaging insects at bay both above and below the ground.
- Mint deters flea beetles and cabbage moths.
- Sage is not a good match for cucumbers.
- Chives and carrots make friendly neighbors in the garden.
- Keep dill close to cabbage and far from carrots.
- Borage repels damaging insects, but it also attracts beneficial insects and pollinators.
- Caraway attracts insects that feed on pests that can cause significant damage to strawberries. Such insects included parasitic flies and wasps that will protect strawberries from fruit-seeking pests like aphids and mites.
Fun plant pairings
When trying to determine what to plant in a raised garden bed, have a little fun with your plant pairings. Encourage the farm-to-table concept and make harvest time even more exciting by planting edibles in groups according to what you like to eat.
Create a Pizza Garden
Make gardening a family affair and create a pizza garden in an area of your raised bed or dedicate a whole raised bed to the theme of pizza. Not only will it be convenient to have all of your homegrown pizza ingredients in one place for harvesting, but have you heard that planting herbs such as basil, oregano, parsley, and thyme in the proximity of your tomato plants can actually boost the flavor of your tomatoes?
- Other ideas: Peppers, onions, broccoli, eggplant
Plant a Salad Bowl
If salads are a staple in your diet, plant your own mix of greens and salad accouterments together in the same raised garden bed. Consider some of these tried and true salad bowl favorites when planting:
- Mixed lettuce varieties
- Garbanzo beans
- Lemon or Lime Basil
- Cherry tomatoes
- Red onions
Raised garden beds give gardeners variety in garden style, make garden chores easier, and helps build garden spaces that can accommodate a plethora of crops in a more compact area. The possibilities of what to plant in a raised bed are endless. No matter what you plant in your garden, make sure that you give your plants their best chance at success by providing optimal nutrient-rich, well-draining soil, water, feed, and select a full sun site for your raised garden bed.