Raised Vegetable Gardens Tips

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Raised kitchen gardens

Soil in raised beds warms up faster in the spring than ground soil does, so they can extend your growing season. A small raised garden by the back door is ideal for a kitchen garden filled with vegetables and herbs, many of which are annuals.

   
What raised bed design is best for vegetables?

Designing Raised Beds for Vegetable Growth

You've decided what to plant, and had a Thanksgiving dinner-sized brouhaha when your dad learned you weren't sowing pumpkins. But what sort of vegetable garden design do you need for raised gardens? Will a plain rectangular box work or can you use, say, a horseshoe or galactic model raised vegetable garden?

If you want a stacked or tiered vegetable garden, you may crowd your veggies in limited space. A tiered flower or herb garden may work better--herb garden design lends itself to tiered gardens. Many raised garden suppliers sell a vegetable garden kit. Gardening experts like to create paths between your potatoes and parsnips--you can move about more freely with a vegetable garden design with walkways and concentrate on one area at a time. With a tiered vegetable garden, you may not be able to give individual attention to your plants.

In addition, some veggies, such as asparagus, need extra elevation, but others don't. A two-tier step vegetable garden design may work best for asparagus. Some vegetables need height, others need extra space and depth, especially if your vegetable garden design has to accommodate city asphalt. Corn and tomatoes, for example, require a raised vegetable garden that is at least 18" deep if you're planting your beds on a city backlot.

Now that you've decided on your vegetable garden shape, you can avoid arguments over the proper way to grow your delicious fresh vegetables...but Dad is still not going to let you forget about those pumpkins.

   
Can I place raised herb gardens around my deck?

All Decked Out in Herbs

Imagine being able to stroll out on your deck and pick fresh thyme, oregano, marjoram, and basil. While you're at it, imagine you've won Powerball. You might not be a lottery winner...but you can have an herb garden off your deck without fearing that foot traffic will squash your savory.

Raised herb garden boxes are ideal for decks, because you don't have to squat down and you can spread out all your tools over a large workspace, and sit on a bench while tending your herbs. Make sure that your deck is placed in an area that gets the most sun so that dill, for example, soaks up all those rays. Deck vegetable garden design depends on good sunlight without the vegetables in your vegetable garden or herbs in your herb garden being overexposed.

Writer Jennifer Wickes of Suite 101 advises that chervil, for example, likes the sun but not the heat of the day, so place chervil in a raised vegetable garden bed near the back of the deck, preferably under an overhang. While you may not be able to spend the whole day lounging about on your patio unless you win Powerball, you can use herb garden design to make the most out of your time soaking up the sun.

   
Is rosemary good for raised herb gardens?

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme...or Just the Rosemary

The aromatic scent of rosemary inspired a song and caused Shakespeare's Ophelia to go into melancholy. But you just love it for cooking--and a few sprigs of it in the cupboard or crisper keeps food fresh.

The question is, can you include rosemary in your vegetable garden design? Is it good for a raised vegetable garden? Rosemary is perfect for a raised herb garden, since the herb requires lots of drainage.

Too much water will cause your rosemary to turn yellow (also too much sun). If you want a rosemary bush, you may want to let it stand on its own since they spread out wildly--you can even give it its own container. You also may want to shape it around a trellis if you're planning to plant it alongside other herbs.

On the other hand, if you buy a smaller rosemary plant, you can vary your herb garden design--rosemary can even take root next to the beans in your vegetable garden. Rosemary benefits just about anything, especially cabbages. Just watch out for any would-be folksingers and maidens with a tendency to moon over Hamlet.

   
Will raised garden beds help me grow more veggies in the South?

Raised Garden Beds in the South

Hurricane season may have played havoc with the South, but you might want to start to rebuild by planting a garden...you can donate fresh veggies to survivors in shelters. Trouble is, the weather in the South can be brutal...maybe not for okra or fried green tomatoes, but for many other plants in your vegetable garden.

A raised vegetable garden or herb garden is ideal for Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky and Florida--let's not forget, raised garden beds produce 1.4 to 2 times as much vegetables as ordinary garden beds...just think of all the evacuees that can feed! Raised vegetable garden design allows more drainage and less dryness, so your plants won't wilt in that famous Southern humidity. Just to be safe, choose plants that are designed to be as tough as Scarlett O'Hara:

  • Arugula
  • Bush Bean
  • Pole Bean
  • Early Wonder Beet
  • Broccoli Raab
  • Broccoli De Cicco
  • Danvers and Scarlet Nantes Carrots
  • Bok Choy
  • Mini White Cucumber
  • Long Purple Eggplant
  • Red Russian Kale
  • Beefsteak Tomato
  • Seven Top Turnip

In yoru vegetable garden, rotate your southern crops according to the principles of organic gardening, and throw in some heat-resistant basil for a bombined vegetable and herb garden. When you're growing vegetables, you're helping the reconstruction effort. True, there have been scads of green raised, but raised beds are a tangible way to make a difference.

   
What flowers complement vegetable gardens?

Flowers and Vegetable Gardens

You've raided the seed store and brought back tons of vegetables for your vegetable garden: onions for the sides of the raised vegetable garden, basil for your herb garden design or to mix with the veggies, carrots and beets to alternate in rows. But you forgot the flowers. For your anniversary too. You were so busy planning your vegetable garden design that you didn't pick up a gift.

Better think roses...and for your herb garden and vegetable garden, calendula, French marigolds and nasturtiums. You can keep these flowers even when you harvest the onions and plant lilac-type flowers or salad greens. Calendula and nasturtiums promote vegetable growth in a raised vegetable garden.

You plant your vegetables and flowers...your better half is pleased, but even more thrilled that you remembered your anniversary. See, gardens are beneficial for the brain as you age!

   
What vegetables don't grow well in raised beds?

Veggie Tales of Raised Bed Woes

Oh no, cry the characters of Veggie Tales, Laura Carrot and Larry the Cucumber. We've raised ourselves up, but can we thrive in a raised vegetable garden? Why are there no herbs in Veggie Tales--isn't the herb garden worthy of illustrating moral lessons? But we digress.

Actually, all veggies will grow well in a raised bed vegetable garden such as one that's four feet by four feet or is triangular. The exceptions might be squash varieties, also certain types of fruit such as melons, which need large spaces and wider, longer raised bed gardens.

However, you can include carrots and cucumbers when you plan your vegetable garden design and herb garden design. Asparagus in particular benefits from a raised vegetable garden. After all, everyone is welcome in God's kingdom, and everyone can be raised up. Although we have a few questions for Larry and Laura about the herbs...

   
Do succulents do well in raised beds?

Succulents and Raised Beds

Succulent isn't just a gastronomic term...it's a type of plant with fleshy stems and leaves. You may want to grow cacti even if you don't live in the Southwest--believe it or not, people actually eat cacti, which you can plant in a raised herb garden or raised vegetable garden.

In particular, the appetite-suppressant hoodia has attracted a lot of attention--though because of its foul smell, you may not want to consume it with your salad! Vegetable garden design with raised beds can include succulents, which are suited to raised beds because of the excellent drainage a raised vegetable garden provides.

You'll need plan your vegetable garden so that your succulents have the right soil--you may want to grow your cacti in cactus soil just to be safe. Plant clinatro in your herb garden and kale, lettuce or spinach in your raised vegetable garden so that you have the ingredients for a delicious cactus salad. Just watch out for the spines. Mm-mm. Succulent...and healthy.

   
What herbs are not good for raised herb gardens?

Don't Get the Urge to Herbal

Raise up, raise up your herb garden! Actually, there are some herbs you may not want to include in your herb garden design if you're planning a raised vegetable garden. Herbs that thrive in shade won't necessarily thrive in a raised herb garden. Be cautious when selecting any of these plants for your vegetable garden design:

  • Angelica
  • Catnip
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Balm
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Tarragon
  • Lemon Verbena
  • Basil
  • Sorrel
  • Chervil
  • Tarragon
  • Sage
  • Chives

You want to uplift your herb garden and vegetable garden, but face up to the reality that some herbs prefer the dark side.

   
Should I grow herbs in my kitchen or in a raised garden?

Herbs in Raised Gardens vs. Kitchen Gardens

You want fresh herbs to spice up your tomato sauce. You've seen the sprouters and herb kits that you can use in your kitchen. Much easier than maintaining an entire herb garden along with your vegetable garden, right? After all, you just got your raised vegetable garden off the ground, pun intended.

A kitchen herb garden may be convenient, but herbs may need more sunlight and water than you think! Some need extra warm temperatures--rosemary is a good example. You can build another raised garden to add to your vegetable garden design. Or you can plan to plant herbs when you rotate your crops.

Several herbs are friends to vegetables, so herb garden design takes note of this. Basil, for example, benefits everything. So does oregano--good news for your marinara sauce! If you're unused to growing herbs, try the kitchen herb garden first and then transplant your oregano and basil into a vegetable garden or a prepared herb garden.

Note that some herbs, such as basil, do need to be replanted every year, but you'll soon get the knack. Now stew those tomatoes and make that pasta sauce! Move over, Mario Batali!

   
How do I design for small-seeded crops?

Small-Seeded Crops, Big Problem?

Big things come in small seeds, or from little acorns, great oaks grow. You're not planting oaks in your raised vegetable garden, but the priciple is the same. Because of the increased planting time, quicker rotations and excellent soil advantage, a vegetable garden with raised beds works well for small-seeded crops.

A flat-top bed is the ideal raised vegetable garden design for small-seeded crops that need lots of water with great drainage. You can grow chilies, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, lettuce, ryegrass (also known as an excellent cover crop for organic gardening) with ease in a flat-top herb garden or vegetable gardens. Small-seeded crops such as raspberries will benefit if you plant a trellis above your raised vegetable garden.

You can also plan small-seeded herbs such as chamomile and coriander with a flat-top soil raised bed herb garden design. Give your small seeds a chance to grow into great oaks!

   

Raised kitchen gardens

Soil in raised beds warms up faster in the spring than ground soil does, so they can extend your growing season. A small raised garden by the back door is ideal for a kitchen garden filled with vegetables and herbs, many of which are annuals.

   
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Guru Spotlight
Carma Spence-Pothitt