Raised garden beds provide an excellent environment for growing vegetables, and using pre-prepared wooden raised beds is the easiest and quickest way to begin. Most kinds of vegetables can be grown in wooden raised beds, especially tomatoes, onions, radishes, garlic, potatoes and even cauliflowers providing their heads are not too large. Root vegetables also do very well in deeper beds, so you can grow carrots, parsnips and swedes with great success.
Why are raised beds so good for growing vegetables?
One of the advantages of this type of cultivation is that raised beds warm sooner than ground soil, so your growing season is extended, usually starting in early spring and continuing into autumn. The soil is less compacted in raised beds, which means they drain more easily. As long as you keep your raised bed well watered there is every chance you will be able to harvest a much more abundant crop than you would if you were growing vegetables in the ground.
Raised beds can come in many different lengths and depths, but there is one rule with regards to width: it should only be about four-feet wide. This is so you can tend to your crop while kneeling on the outside of the bed, without ever having to step on the soil. With no heavy feet trampling the earth, your vegetables are able to grow free from risk of damage, and will have the space to breathe that they need. The risk of soil compaction is also reduced in a raised bed because there tend to be fewer weeds coming through, allowing for the quality of your crop to be enhanced.
How to grow vegetables in raised garden beds
At first, you need to match the crop to the depth of the bed. A shallow bed, with a depth of around 15 cm, will make a good home for flowers and herbs. Wooden raised beds that are 30 cm deep can nurture shallow root vegetables and salads, as well as flowers and herbs, comfortably. For longer root vegetables, it is advisable to have raised vegetable beds with a depth of around 45 cm. This will provide plenty of space and excellent drainage. There are even 60 cm deep beds, offering maximum water drainage. These are recommended if the ground soil area doesn’t drain well or is too damp, causing water logging.
Most vegetables do well in raised beds if you use a soil mixture made up of two-thirds potting compost and one-third garden soil. Thanks to their comparatively excellent drainage, raised beds rarely become waterlogged. However, this does mean that they need to be watered regularly, as they can lose water quickly. One good idea is to add a layer of mulch to the top of the bed, this will help to keep moisture within, and lessen the frequency with which the bed needs to be watered.
Some varieties have specific feeding requirements, but on the whole, growing vegetables in a wooden raised bed is a straightforward, practical and enjoyable way of putting delicious, fresh, homegrown food on your table.