Raised Garden Planting Tips

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Can I plant just any kind of plants in interplanting?

Don't Mix Them Together

You know the situation. You put your friend who likes the beach and the Beach Boys together with our friend who loves the slopes and heavy metal, and you have a problem. Knowing how to plant a garden, especially a raised garden, with plants that like different types of moisture is the key to interplanting, or mixing several different types of plants when you're gardening raised beds.

Careful soil preparation can help you keep your begonias from bailing and your squash from shriveling. Too bad you can't reach the same level of compromise among your friends. Some tips on how to plant a garden raised bed with mixed company:

  • Plant melons beneath pea plants so they don't crowd each other.
  • Don't plant asparagus and borage in the same raised bed, since asparagus is a heavy drinker and borage just sips. If the soil is too moist, borage will wilt.
  • Don't plant endive with carrots if you're planning to compost the soil with lots of nutrient-rich peat moss--plant endive when you harvest the carrots. Your one friend loves the Las Vegas buffet and the other one is perennially on a diet.
  • Don't plant a fast-maturing plant with one that takes time to ripen--you don't want to disturb the roots of the still-growing plant.

You know how your beach-worshipping friend hates to be awakened before nine while your ski buddy is raring to go at five a.m.! You successfully mediate between your two pals and you're all still friends to this day. Now if your oregano and cucumbers would only get along...

How do I keep my soil from eroding?

Only You Can Prevent Soil Erosion

Soil erosion isn't a glamorous topic--unlike forest fires, with Smokey the Bear's basso profundo. But to your garden plants, soil erosion can be as threatening as a three-alarm blaze. Some judicious soil preparation in raised bed planting prevents the sun and the wind from stripping the soil off your squash.

When you're deciding how to garden and what to garden, buy moisture holding polymers to use in raised bed gardening. Moisture holding polymers, available in white granules, lock in moisture. You've seen how a dry forest can be threatened by a stray campfire. If you could sprinkle moisture holding polymers in the forest where you're picking up your litter, you would.

These soil savers work better in an enclosed space, since there's a heavier concentration. Just be sure, when you're deciding how to plant a garden, that you don't sow the polymers along with the seeds--the polymers can push the seeds out of the soil when you irrigate. Add polymers during your soil preparation. Only you can prevent soil erosion...and please, put out your campfires.

Can I plant deep rooting vegetables with shallow rooted crops?

Deeps and Shallows

Deep rooted crops aren't necessarily the deep thinkers of the horticultural world, just as shallow rooted crops don't necessarily wear push-up bras and chew gum. You can learn how to plant a garden that will show off both types. Actually, if you learn how to garden with crop rotation, you can group shallow root plants (cabbage, together, since they may be subject to the same diseases, in flat soil raised beds.

Deep root crops such as tomatoes and broccoli will follow carrots into beds with more soil depth--just be sure to aerate the soil in your soil preparation. Shallow root plants such as radishes and lettuce need nutrient-rich soil preparation but require more water near the surface, so plant deep rooted and shallow rooted plants in different beds.

If you only have one container for gardening raised beds, change the soil preparation year after year to alternate between deep root and shallow root plants. You may want to build your own raised bed garden that you can alter by taking away stones or removing soil--some commercial raised garden beds are designed for different soil depths.

Whatever you do, don't assume your radishes can't be reflective or that your broccoli is smarter. You may have a planting revolt on your hands if you do!

When I'm doing succession planting, how do I mulch?

Mulching and Succession Planting

Get a little more height, raise up your radishes (tip: not too high, and always cover the root ball), and your problems will be over, right? You thought having a two-story home would be ideal, but you have to clean twice as much. Similarly, you have to maintain your raised garden, especially if you're doing succession planting.

All the experts on how to garden agree that mulch, like manure and compost, will ease the task of gardening raised beds. Raised beds drain quickly and have better soil, but you'll want the right soil preparation when you're succession planting. After you harvest the spinach, you want to plant kale.

In your raised bed planting, make sure you supply plenty of mulch at the base of the bed and around the plants. This will take care of any weeds that somehow got past the raised bed foundation. Mulch also:

  • Prepares the soil for succession planting with nutrients, especially in summer
  • Makes the soil friable or crumbly without drying out
  • Warms the soil--be careful since raised beds already warm up faster and plants for the winter months don't like heat
  • Keeps plants thriving in raised beds since you plant one to three more rows-per-foot than normal when planting raised beds

And that height? Raised beds tend to dry faster, while mulch conserves moisture, so be sure to install an irrigation system for plants that like plenty of moisture--plants that require low moisture in succession planting will benefit from mulch and raised bed planting.

Gardening raised beds for succession planting is easier in the smaller space, but still requires gardeners' aids such as mulch. Just as you need to vacuum those stairs and wash the upstairs windows. Still, when you look out over your tomatoes and then your winter lettuce, the height is worth it.

How do I keep vertical gardens from overshadowing my bed?

Growing Up

Your daughter still needs help with her homework...and she's in college. Your son still asks for your barbecue...and he's in the Marines. No matter how much they grow, they still need your support. Knowing how to plant a garden for maximum growth is like raising kids...they both need support and plenty of room to grow.

If you've done the soil preparation right, your plants will stand up tall. A tepee, arbor or trellis helps those beans, climbing peas, tomatoes and cucumbers reach for the stars...or at least the sunlight. But younger sibling plants on the ground may feel neglected when you're gardening raised beds, even though raised beds get more sun.

Allow those plants room of their own to shine, and when doing your raised bed planting, place plants that like shade beneath tomatoes and beans. Some shade-loving plants include:

  • Impatiens
  • Ferns
  • Wild-blue phlox
  • Virginia bluebells
  • Beets
  • Chard
  • Leeks
  • Radishes
  • Turnips

Plant onions and eggplant in the south side of the garden. especially if taller plants on trellises are on the north side. Your kids can thrive and your plants can thrive...all because they still have your love and support. You know how to parent, and you know how to garden...now you have more time to help your garden grow since youR kids are out of the house!

Do I need to worry about soil compaction in a raised bed garden?

Compacting Soil

You prefer compact cars, compact computers...should you also opt for soil compaction in raised bed planting? Not this time. In soil preparation, you need to make sure your loam and sand are aerated, since traditional gardens get too much foot traffic, too many weeds, and too much activity that squeezes the air out of the soil.

No matter what your soil composition, you have an uphill battle in when you're deciding how to plant a garden the traditional way. When you're gardening raised beds, however, you can mix up the soil in a closed space and intermingle it with organic compost--especially if you've cleared sod to make your raised beds. Sod makes wonderful compost that you can mix with the soil to fill it with nutrients and oxygen.

Soil compaction hinders that process and is an enemy to growing plants. You've learned how to garden so that your plants have room to breathe. Thank goodness your compact car has a great air conditioning system and a sunroof!

Should I use sand in my raised bed soil preparation?

Shifting Sands

Heavy soil is better, right? You prefer a heavy down comforter packed full of feathers. Heavy on the mustard. But heavy on the soil? Forget it. Heavy, crammed-together soil compacts more easily and doesn't work for planting. When deciding how to plant a garden, you start with the soil, and healthy aerated soil is one of the advantages of raised bed planting.

There are many excellent soils that are a mix of silicia, sand, loam, and topsoil. If you can't find one of these for your soil preparation, mix your own when gardening raised beds. You need a mixture of 3 parts garden soil, 3 parts organic matter, and 1 part sand or perlite. The full list of ingredients includes:

  • Washed sand such as coarse river sand
  • Loamy soil
  • Limestone with the right pH balance
  • Organic material for compost--bark, peat moss, leaves
  • Nitrogen to make the compost break down faster

Layer the soil together with the compost ("Gardener's Black Gold") in another raised bin. Some soil amenders and compost materials require that you keep the mixture on hand for several weeks or even months.

Learning how to garden with this loose soil mixture is not a heavy responsibility and doesn't take heavy reflection--just some careful planning and soil preparation. After all, you need to lighten up sometime.

What soil preparation amenders shouldn't I use?

Soil Preparation No-Nos

Remember how adding too much oil in your brownies caused everyone to pretend to like them while turning puce? You can add the wrong materials during raised bed planting when you're painstakingly attending to soil preparation and amending.

Just as some preservatives and spices are no-nos for would-be brownie gobblers, some soil preparation materials should be left alone:

  • Too much lime, for vegetables and flowers (the ideal soil pH is between 6.0 and 7.5) * Bone, grease and meat drippings
  • Tomato, eggplant and pepper foliage and stems (may contain diseases)
  • Cucumber, melon, and squash leaves and vines (may contain diseases)

When learning how to plant a garden with two or more levels, you may fear that some amenders will be dangerous. The only danger is in not adding even amounts of soil amenders when you're gardening raised beds.

Raised beds with more sunlight will especially need fertile, nutrient-rich soil. Now that you've fed your plants with the right soil preparation, it's time to tackle that brownie recipe again.

Do I need to refresh my soil amenders every time I plant?

Repeat Performance Planting

Remember the fish you had in grade school? Your mom told you to change the water. You didn't. One day, you found yourself struggling through a toilet bowl funeral. You're learning how to plant a garden, especially a raised garden build directly on existing sod.

While you've kept the weeds out, you plan to do succession planting when gardening raised beds. You're planting lettuce in Virginia in March before the last frost, and lima beans in the summer. You might think you don't need to add soil amenders or fertilizer each time. All we can say is, remember that fish!

You don't want to deplete the soil after you've put so much work and planned how to garden, so prepare raw manure three to six months before you plan to plant the lima beans--you don't want to burn the roots! For the fall when you're planting lettuce again, select kelp meal from seaweed (ironically, algae may save your plants--it clouded your fish tank before!)

Lettuce leaf has a high nutrient demand--on the other hand, you can probably get away with fewer nutrients for lima beans, but be sure to refresh the soil anyway. After all, you'd look silly conducting a bathroom funeral for your plants...but you'll always cherish your pet goldfish.

Can I start plants in pots to have them ready for raised bed planting?

Raised Bed Planting: Rites of Succession

There's been a royal tempest in a teapot about royal succession since Charles and Di divorced and after Princess Diana's death. You're thankful you're a common bloke and all you have to deal with is how to plant a garden with crop rotation in a raised bed. Fortunately, raised bed planting was made for crop rotation, since every inch of the garden is accessible and visible.

You don't have to worry about filling in the spaces or leaving empty spaces, and you can plan out different raised bed planting boxes for simialr vegetables--broccoli and cauliflower, for example. But when do you plant broccoli and cauliflower? Fortunately, broccoli doesn't mind being put in peat pots to wait till it's crowned. You can start your broccoli in June while you're rotating your winter onions, asparagus, and horseradish.

Meanwhile, you keep on with your soil preparation so that the eggplant, which is ending her reign, won't take all the royal soil nutrients. Then...ah...broccoli can hold court along with cauliflower and bok choy. Meanwhile you're gardening raised beds with the devotion of Charles to Camilla. Broccoli matures quickly, like Prince William, so keep an eye on him or you could have a royal row!

Always use the best fertilizer, 10-10-10 fertilizer, especially for tomato plants. Royal succession may be a royal pain, but succession raised bed planting won't be.


Soil additives for raised gardens

Soil, important in any garden, is especially crucial to a raised bed because it is by definition finite: what you put in is what your plants will get. Plants will in time use up the nutrients contained in any soil, so start with a good base: good-quality top soil well-mixed with humus or manure. Annual top dressings of humus will keep your soil and your plants healthy.


Soil additives for raised gardens

Soil, important in any garden, is especially crucial to a raised bed because it is by definition finite: what you put in is what your plants will get. Plants will in time use up the nutrients contained in any soil, so start with a good base: good-quality top soil well-mixed with humus or manure. Annual top dressings of humus will keep your soil and your plants healthy.

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Guru Spotlight
Joe Wallace