Raised Bed Gardening: Getting Started

Raised Bed Gardening: Getting Started

What to Plant?

You’ve installed your raised or elevated garden bed and now the big decision is...what to plant?

First, think about the vegetables you like to eat. Does your family like salads? If so, things like lettuce, cherry tomatoes, carrots, and cucumbers are good choices. Are you a salsa fan? Plant a salsa garden and grow peppers, onions, and tomatoes!

Also, if you’re a big vegetable eater, then consider costs. What vegetables are the most expensive at the grocery store? You can save money on your monthly grocery bill by planting vegetables like asparagus, spring onions, radishes, and French green beans.

Remember, with a raised bed the key is to look for compact plants that take up minimal space. Avoid tall vegetable plants...these require a lot of support and the soil in a raised bed is loose and not compact enough to accommodate them.  

I know, it can seem overwhelming. There are a lot of options out there, so if you’re still scratching your head, here is a list of the most common vegetables that do well in raised beds:

  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes – look for varieties with mini or patio in the name as they tend to be more compact.
  • Leafy greens – kale, etc.
  • Onions – shallots and leeks
  • Root Vegetables – radishes, carrots and beets
  • Garlic
  • Peppers
  • Peas
  • Summer and Winter Squash
  • Swiss Chard
  • Beans
  • Turnips and Parsnips

Soil Preparation
Once you’ve decided what to plant, the next step is to prepare the soil. There is a vast amount of information on soil preparation on the internet or at your local library, but here are a few quick tips to get you started.

  • You can vary the soil depth of the bed, but the minimum is at least 6 inches. This level is where most root growth occurs and where most of the nutrients are found.
  • A 6–12-inch rooting zone is needed for larger plants as they will send down roots to the deeper level. This will also make them sturdy and less likely to bend in stronger winds or overly wet soil.
  • Two-thirds topsoil and one-third compost is the recommended soil mixture for your raised bed.   
  • You can line the bottom of your raised bed with thick layers of cardboard and/or newspaper or landscaping fabric to prevent weeds from growing up into your prepared soil.
  • A layer of garden mulch is important especially with fairly shallow soil. This helps hold in moisture, protects the soil from sun damage, and helps prevent weed invasion.

A key component of any successful garden is healthy soil, so it’s well worth the time and research to ensure it is properly prepared.


         Good luck and happy planting!