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how to plant a raised garden bed

Raised bed gardening has been a popular way of growing vegetables and even flowers. This is a common practice done by those with a small space but wants to build a vegetable garden. Also, it is highly recommended for those without a source of good soil and has poor drainage for their plants. 

Unlike regular gardening, raised bed gardening is a simpler and more cost-efficient solution. You can plant any crops from seeds or seedlings. Also, it requires less work as you there will be fewer weeds to remove, unlike regular yard gardening. 

getting started on how to plant a raised garden bed 

Getting started in planting in a raised bed is easy. You just have to make sure that you have your bed and all other things ready. To start planting, the following are things that you must do: 

  1. Fill your raised garden beds with good soil blend of potting soil or compost. Create a smooth surface by raking the top of the soil and removing debris or rocks. 
  1. Since each bed contains manure and fertilizer, you can have the plants spaced a bit closer. 
  1. If you’re planting lettuce, poke holes in the soil using your finger with 6 inches intervals. Sprinkle a couple of seeds in each hole. As soon as the seeds start to germinate, you can start thinning them until there’s one seedling left per hole. 
  1. You can try to broadcast the seeds all over the surface of the bed. Say, for example, you’re planting carrots. You should apply fine-textured potting soil on the top of the seeds since carrots can attract species of butterflies to the bed. 
  1. If you’re planting cucumbers, you can plant them just along the edge of the bed for them to trail over the sides. 
  1. After planting, make sure you water the bed well and apply some mulch around the plants. This will control the weeds and limit evaporation. 

These are just some of the things that you must do as you start planting your raised garden beds. You must be mindful of what goes in your beds to grow healthy crops. 

how much to plant in a raised garden bed 

Before you even start planting, you should create a garden planner where you’ll record the when and what you’ve planted on your beds. This way, you are aware of when to expect crops from your gardens and learn whether your plants are growing as it’s supposed to. 

The first thing that you should learn is knowing more about the plants that you’re planning to grow. You see, not all plants thrive at the same conditions. This is when reading the tags or instructions on a seed packet is recommended. 

You need to know the specific conditions needed by certain plants to thrive. The packets will provide info when you should start thinning the sprouts as they start poking through. Thinning allows certain veggies to grow healthier and bigger. 

Some plants require more space so they can get enough air to circulate. Doing so will help prevent any diseases. This also allows enough light to reach the plant and fruits. 

Don’t forget that regular watering is needed. So, make sure that you create a regular schedule to keep your tender plants hydrated. To protect your plants from late-spring frost, you can use a landscaping fabric or row covers over them. 

doing square foot gardening in your raised garden bed 

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One method that will make planting in a raised garden bed easier and more productive is by doing square foot gardening. This method is introduced by Mel Bartholomew and has been used by a lot of small space gardeners. 

In this method, it focuses on using a 4-foot square raised bed and then divided into 16 squares. In each square, you can densely plant, herbs, vegetables, and flowers. A special soil mix composed of peat moss, compost, and vermiculite in equal parts. 

You can plant different seeds in every square and varying numbers. It all depends on the required space of each plant as they grow. For a 4×4 square foot grid, there are a lot of crops that you can plant.  

growing various plants on the grid 

Growing any plant on the grid is simple. Certain vegetables must be planted in each square in a certain number. Each plant should have an ideal distance from each other to maximize the use of the plant for nutrients and space.  

Doing so will also prevent weeds from growing. This will make your veggies grow more even in a limited space. It will also boost the health of the plants because of companion planting (more on this later). 

To get the ideal spacing for the plants, you just have to space them also in a grid formation. For each square, you should only plant one variety with so many seeds. While the grid helps in measuring, it will also keep the rows look neat once they start to sprout. 

Below are general rules for the number of plants and spacing for common vegetables you can plant in your raised square foot garden bed.  

one plant per square 

With this category, you simply have to create one hole in the middle of a 1×1 foot square or 12 inches on each side that you choose. You can put a few seeds or transplant the seedling in the hole. Plants that you can consider for this category include: 

Celery Sweet Potatoes 
Eggplant Potatoes 
Oregano Parsley 
Peppers Okra 
Rosemary Kale  
Lettuce (head) Corn  
Tomatoes (staked)  

 

two plants per square

For this category, you should plant the seeds side by side. It is recommended that you create ample distance where you can put up a support trellis. Crops you can plant two seeds/seedlings per square are: 

Cucumbers Pumpkins Cantaloupe 
Winter Squash Watermelons  
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up to four plants per square 

In this category, you can plant each seed on one of each corner of the square. Place each seed with equal distances from the borders of the square and each seed.  

Now, plants for this option doesn’t have to be planted in fours for every square. If you feel like growing less, you can reduce this to three or two with ideal distancing, of course. Plants you can grow in this category include: 

Basil Swiss Chard Onions (when growing larger bulbs) 
Kohl Rabi Rutabaga Tomatoes (with cages) 
Lettuce (Leaf) Garlic (when growing larger bulbs) Summer Squash (with cages) 
Winter Radishes Leeks ( when growing larger plants) Zucchini (with cages) 

up to eight or nine plants per square 

For this option, you have to plant the seeds in a small grid-like pattern in the square and making sure that all are equidistant from each other and also from the square’s borders. Just like the rule with the four plants per square, you don’t have to plant a lot of seeds if you don’t need much of it. Vegetables you can plant for this category are: 

Beets Green beans (bush or pole) 
Spinach Leeks (smaller but grow more plants) 
Cilantro Garlic (can harvest smaller bulbs, but lets you plant more) 
Peas Onions (may be smaller but grow more plants) 
Turnips Tomatoes (with no supporting trellis) 

 

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up to 16 plants per square

Same as the rule with the category above, you’ll have to plant these in a grid-like pattern and should be equidistant to each other and also with the border. This will avoid crowding each square. 

If you won’t have the time to pick or thin the vegetables as they start sprouting, you should resort to the methods above. This way, the plant root size will grow larger without causing bolting or disease. Some plants you can include in this category are: 

Parsnips Carrots Radishes 

up to two per four plants 

Vegetables in this category require a lot of space for them to grow and flourish. They also need a more complex arrangement when you’re using the square root gardening method. 

It all depends on the number of vegetables you want to plant. You just have to make sure that you can provide the space that each plant needs from other plants and the sides of the borders. Plants for this category: 

Brussels Sprouts Broccoli 
Cauliflower Cabbage 

Using the technique companion planting plays an important role in this category. In this technique, you have to inter-plant different species side by side since they can be mutually beneficial for each other. Doing this will bring natural perks for plants like disease prevention and insect resistance. 

companion planting tips 

You have to keep in mind that not all plants can get along. Some strongly compete with each other to get nutrients while some attract pests that can damage neighbouring plants.  

Fortunately, there are companion plants that do the exact opposite. They only bring the best for each other like attracting beneficial insects or pollinators and creating the perfect balance for them to grow healthy. 

Make sure that you do your homework before planting seeds or transplanting seedlings in your raised garden beds. Search for plants that should go together for each square and those that shouldn’t. 

how to prepare a raised garden bed for planting 

As you build a raised garden bed, you have to make sure that your beds are ready to support your plants in growing healthy. Some of the things that you should do in preparing your raised bed are the following: 

  1. Fill your raised bed with the right mixture of soil, especially if you cannot use the regular garden soil in your yard. 
  1. Make sure that your blend of soil includes organic matter to make it healthier for the plants you’re planning to grow. 
  1. See to it that your beds have proper drainage and irrigation system. You want to keep the soil moist but not too soggy and not too dry. 
  1. Prepare your mulch if you are gardening during a hot season since you’ll have to use those to keep moisture from the soil from evaporating. 
  1. Do your research on the right plants to grow for the current season in your area. You should also know how to strategically plant veggies together in one square. 

With these simple preparations, you can get the most out of your raised bed gardens and grow healthier crops and be more productive.  

when and how to plant a raised bed garden 

Before you even start planting, among the first things that you should take note of is the growing season of certain plants. This will help you determine when to plant particular vegetables and give you more advantages in growing more crops. 

Once you’ve prepared everything and your seeds are ready, you can now proceed to plant your raised garden bed. The instructions below are for those planning to plant from seeds. 

  1. Form holes by simply using a certain tool or your finger. You need to keep the holes equally spaced. Refer to the categories above regarding the number of plants you can grow in each square. 
  1. Put seeds or seedlings on each hole and cover it lightly with soil. Water them generously. 
  1. Watch your plants grow. Once you see that the seeds started to sprout, choose the strongest-looking one, and remove the weak ones. This will become your full-grown herb or vegetable. 

You can choose to start from seeds or you can also go for transplanting. However, you should know that certain plants thrive more when planted as seeds than when transplanted. 

As you see your seedlings continue to grow, all that is left to do is regularly water them and harvest. When you notice that some seedlings didn’t grow well, you can always replace them with new seeds.  

If the first ones are already reaching maturity, you should let them grow first and then harvest before replacing the other seeds. This way, the new ones will not get overshadowed and crowd the new ones. 

succession planting in your raised garden bed 

Once you’ve harvested your first batch, there is no reason for you to stop planting again on the empty spaces. While your first batch is reaching the harvest stage, you can start planting seeds in planters and prepare them for transplanting. This is recommended for those plants that grow well when transplanted. 

Just make sure that you always follow the compost tip. Always amend the soil for it get back the nutrients and still get a healthy harvest. Always get a thriving garden by always maintaining good soil health in your raised beds. 

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