Growing veggies in raised beds have made farming easier than growing them on flat ground. The raised beds warm up quickly, which extends the growing season. Fertilizing and monitoring the vegetables is easier, and you can add new soil to grow a certain kind of vegetable.
There is less weed growth, and crops are much easier to access than on flat ground. Raised beds also let you grow more in less space and look visually appealing.
But what vegetables can we grow in raised beds?
You can grow almost every vegetable in a raised garden bed that you traditionally grow in the ground. Some popular choices of vegetables are potatoes, onion, tomatoes, beans, peas, lettuce, spinach, kale, cucumber, carrot, etc. However, you should avoid growing grains like paddy, millet, oats, etc.
This article will look into the basics of growing vegetables in raised beds. I will suggest the 10 best vegetables to grow in raised beds and discuss tips to take care of your raised bed garden.
What are raised beds made of?
Raised beds can be made out of anything but are commonly made from pressure-treated wooden planks.
In case you do not find them, fret not.
You can use your old stock tanks, oversized grow bags, or your kid’s old swimming pool.
You can get raised beds from the market or build your own.
They can be made of wood, brick, metal, stone, or any other material with a base at least 12 inches deep.
4*8 is the most popular size of raised bed that kitchen gardeners use, as the veggies will be within reach from all sides.
Raised beds provide many benefits and help many grow crops they used to struggle to grow on flat ground.
Also read: 16 Best Types Of Wood For Raised Garden Bed (+Materials to avoid)
Benefits of growing vegetables in raised beds
There are several reasons why raised beds have become a popular gardening tool for growing vegetables.
Let us now discuss the advantages of growing vegetables on raised beds below:
- More food in less space: Even if you have a small space, you can grow your crops closer together to utilize every bit of the space.
- Appearance: You can start your raised beds near your entryway, backyard, front yard, terrace, balcony, and so on. They look tidy and clean, so you can grow them anywhere and add to the beauty of the space.
- Fewer weeds: Raised beds have fewer weeds than flat grounds because the beds are so densely planted that weeds do not have spaces to grow. And even if they grow, you can easily pull them out.
- Warms quickly: The soil warms up quickly at the onset of spring, extending the crops’ growing period.
- Rich soil: You can add soil and amend it with compost and nutrients to improve its quality, making it rich and suitable for the growing crop.
- Easier pest control: Treating pests or insects is much easier than treating long gardens. You can easily cover the beds with row fabrics or special covers or make a simple plastic greenhouse.
- Improved drainage: Soil in raised beds has better drainage and is more aerated than garden soil, as you can add perlite, compost, and other elements to improve its quality.
- Easier accessibility: Raised beds are much less stressful for your body as you have to bend less and put less strain on your body.
Selecting vegetables to grow in raised beds
While choosing which vegetable you want to grow in the vegetable garden, keep a few things in mind:
- Grow what you eat: Grow your and your family’s favorite veggies. It will be a highly rewarding feeling to grow your crops.
- Length of the growing season in your region: Before choosing, keep in mind the season and weather conditions at your place. You need a long growing season for your plants to grow and mature. Raised beds tend to warm up quicker than ground, which helps to extend the growing season.
What vegetables grow well in a raised garden?
Let’s discuss some of the most popular vegetables you can grow in raised beds.
One potato plant can grow between three to five pounds of potatoes.
Plant the seeds at least three inches deep and a foot apart.
As the plant grows, add mulch and soil to the bed.
Potatoes do not do well close to cucumbers, turnips, etc.
The easiest way to grow onions is by purchasing onion sets and planting the tiny bulbs early in spring.
They are also natural pest deterrents for vegetables, so you can squeeze some of them along with your tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli, and so on.
They do not take up much space and can fit easily between larger plants.
Two types of beans can be grown in raised beds: bush beans and pole beans.
Bush beans are most popular because they are easy and need small space.
They need warm weather and thus are planted in spring.
Polo beans are also planted but require trellis, wire, or poles to cling and grow.
Plant the beans in a sunny location, about one inch deep in soil keeping six-seven inches of space with one another.
Bush beans will require thinning as they need room to grow along the trellis.
Peas take as less as 45 days to start producing a harvest.
If your raised beds do not have a trellis, choose a dwarf variety of the plant.
Sow the pea seeds early in the season when the temperatures are cooler.
Harvesting them often will make them produce more.
Mint is one of the most popular options for raised bed gardens because it can quickly take over the garden.
Plant them at a spot that receives full sun once established and harvests them often because they spread across quickly and can cover the entire bed.
Mint is tricky to harvest from seeds, so it is best if you can get some leaves from your friends nearby.
They are very drought-tolerant and thrive with little care.
Tomatoes are versatile and very popular in kitchen gardens, and they love the warm soil.
If your raised bed size is small, choose a smaller-sized tomato to grow.
You can grow tomatoes on a trellis or in cages or flop over the sides of your raised garden.
Spinach can be planted with other plants like lettuce and radishes and grows in cooler climates, so you need to start them early.
Once harvested, you can plant some radishes and spinach again in late summer or early fall when the weather gets cooler.
Under ideal conditions, the spinach seeds should germinate within a week.
Dig a little trench in the soil, sow the seeds gently, and water carefully.
As you can eat spinach at any time of the year, there is no need to thin them.
Instead, you can harvest the baby leaves too.
Lettuce is a good addition if you are planting vegetables on raised beds.
It is a great addition to your garden if you live in slightly cooler areas.
Like tomatoes, you can sow some lettuce seeds along with your larger plants.
They will harvest quickly, and you can also squeeze some at corners.
Sprinkle the seeds of your lettuce in a thin line, gently cover them with soil, and water them lightly.
Once the lettuce grows to maturity, harvest them.
Cucumbers come in vining and bush variants.
You can choose which one you want to grow depending on the size of your raised bed.
If the size of your raised bed is compact, then vining cucumbers are more suitable.
You must use a trellis and train your plant to climb and grow.
Plant the cucumber seeds six inches apart and no more than one inch deep.
Carrots are easy to plant and grow and do very well in raised beds.
The airy and loose soil gives them a lot of space to breathe and grow which is important for them.
The seeds of carrots are tiny and need to be planted ¼ inch deep.
While watering them, be careful not to wash them away.
As the carrots continue growing, you need to thin them out as they need space to grow.
How to care for your raised vegetable garden bed?
Let me explain the care of your raised beds briefly.
1. Rich Soil
One of the best things about raised garden beds is that you can prepare the soil your plant needs.
The soil should be rich and full of organic matter and contain air pockets that help airflow.
It should also retain the necessary moisture without staying wet.
So before planting your vegetables, know about the soil it needs and prepare the soil of your garden bed accordingly.
Fill the raised bed with a mixture of good-quality soil, compost, peat, and perlite for improved drainage and aeration.
Also read: 7 Best DIY Raised Bed Soil Mix: A Step-by-step Guide
2. Water when soil is dry
Watering is one of the most important tasks in summer vegetable gardens, as the crops need a consistent supply of moisture in the soil for the crops to show good results.
The raised beds and gardens dry out quicker than flat ground soil.
The primary cause of this is gravity.
The taller the bed, the quicker it dries.
If you are unsure if the soil needs watering, stick your finger 2-3 inches inside the soil.
If you see the top layer of the soil is dry, it is time you need to water the soil bed thoroughly.
To water, you can use a hose or a watering can or get automatic watering devices available on the market.
Also, while watering, concentrate on the soil and not the plant.
This helps to prevent soil-borne diseases and pests because wet plants and leaves become the breeding ground for pests.
Also read: Does A Raised Garden Bed Need Drainage? (+Mistakes To Avoid)
All vegetables do not need this, but those that grow directly from seeds need to be properly spaced.
Carrots need at least one and a half inches to two inches of space around them to grow well, and turnips need two-three inches, and so on.
Spacing information is mostly listed on the packets of the seeds.
So you need to know that to help your plants grow in the required space.
4. Add a layer of mulch
Mulching provides a lot of benefits for raised soil beds.
If you cover the soil bed with 3-4 inches of mulch, you will need to water less frequently and have lower chances of weeds.
Mulching helps the soil to lock in and retain moisture by protecting the soil from the hot sun rays and reducing evaporation, preventing weeds from growing by blocking their access to sunlight.
You can prepare the mulch from compost, shredded leaves, pine bark, dry grass clippings, straw, and so on.
Also read: Can You Put Mulch In A Raised Garden Bed? (Best Mulch+What To Avoid)
5. Feed your plants
Plants like humans need regular food and nutrition, especially vegetables in raised beds.
To make your veggies grow flourishingly, feed them every month with fertilizers especially made for raised garden beds.
Organically decomposed compost is a great food for your veggies garden.
Certain long-term crops like tomatoes and pepper do very well if fed with liquid fertilizer or fish emulsion.
6. Watch for weeds
The number of weeds in raised garden beds is significantly lesser than on flat ground.
This is because weeds thrive in compacted soil.
Also, in raised beds, the crops are planted intensively, reducing the space for weeds.
Mulching also helps to reduce weeds’ growth.
But whenever you notice any weed growth, pull them out immediately without wasting any time.
They are easier to pull away when young but spread if they reach the seeds.
So remove them whenever noticed.
7. Go on pest patrol
While growing vegetables, it is important to keep an eye on your garden beds daily.
Check each plant for songs of pests and diseases which are much easier to treat when checked early.
8. Bug Control
Most bugs are beneficial, but certain bugs, like cucumber beetles and squash bugs, damage your veggies.
First, when you notice a bug, figure out what it is, and then you can take the necessary treatments.
If you prefer organic gardening, try avoiding chemical pesticides as they harm pollinators and good insects.
How to plant a raised bed garden?
Follow these steps to build a raised garden bed:
- Fill the raised bed with good-quality soil, compost once full, and rake the surface smooth to remove debris.
- Plant the crops intensively as, unlike flat ground, you’d not need space to walk around the plants.
- For veggies like carrots, spread seeds over the soil surface and lightly cover them with a thin layer of soil.
- For leafy veggies like lettuce, poke holes in the soil at 6 inches intervals and sprinkle the seeds into them. Once the seeds begin germinating, you need to thin the seeds to one seedling per hole.
- You can plant cucumbers along the edges of the bed so they can easily trail the sides.
- Water the bed thoroughly after planting and apply a layer of mulch around them t retain moisture and prevent weeds growth.
Tips for thriving raised bed gardening
Despite the numerous benefits of raised beds, hot climates have a few drawbacks.
For example, raised beds can dry out quickly.
The width of the bed is pivotal as it ensures your access to all the spots on the bed.
You can easily avoid a few drawbacks with proper planning.
Let us study a few tips to help make your raised beds successful.
1. Do not walk on the soil
The best thing about raised beds over flat grounds is the fluffy light soil you create for your plants.
So ensure all the spots on your bed are within your arm’s distance, so you do not have to walk on it.
Walking on the soil makes it compact.
2. Mulch after planting
Mulch your crops after planting with dried grass, straw, and wood chips.
This reduces the growth of weeds and keeps the moisture locked.
3. A lot of sunlight
If you have large trees around your yard, keep your raised bed away.
The vegetables need at least six hours of full sunlight daily to produce a good harvest.
4. Install a barrier
Install a barrier at the bottom of the bed if you do not want any weeds growing in the soil.
You can use corrugated cardboard or a commercial weed barrier for this purpose.
Cover the edges and the bottom with hardware clothes before filling the raised bed to prevent creatures from burrowing into the bed.
5. Top-dress annually with compost
Like container gardening, the soil will lose its nutrients over time so add 1-2 inches of compost every spring before you plant the crops.
6. Fluff the soil as needed
If the soil has become compact, fluff it up with a garden fork as deeply as possible.
7. Create an edible garden
Pair your vegetable with blooming companions to invite beneficial insects to boost the harvest.
Add some flowers along the edges to attract pollinators that improve the harvest and fight pests.
Reference: ScienceDirect, American Society of Agronomy, Noble Research Institute, Soil for Raised Beds, Raised Bed Gardening.