10+ Tips to Help You Grow a Great Raised Bed Garden
Here's everything you need to elevate your harvest with a raised bed garden.
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Choose the Right Bed for Your Yard
I love raised bed gardens for two important reasons: flexibility and control. Pick a sunny spot in your yard—four hours direct sun minimum—and get started with a 4×8 bed like this ($80). Tight space? Grow herbs in a smaller elevated bed ($190) on your patio or balcony.
Prepare the Soil
In a raised bed garden, you control the soil. If you don’t make your own compost, use bagged organic soil for raised beds to provide optimum growing conditions. Begin with soil designed for raised beds ($38). For extra oomph, I love to add worm castings ($28).
Find a Good Fertilizer
A plant needs lots of energy to produce scrumptious tomatoes or a plethora of peppers. An occasional organic plant food boost, like Alaska Fish Fertilizer ($18), keeps your crops well-nourished and flourishing. And, no, your vegetables won’t taste like fish!
Raised beds generally require more moisture than in-ground gardens. Channel your inner kid and turn on the hose—I love a water wand with variable spray options ($21). Use this tool to give seedlings a fine mist, or to deeply soak larger plants. Psst! These secret ingredients will help your garden grow.
Support Your Plants
Cucumbers climb, tomatoes reach for the sun, and everything else roams. Lesson learned! Plan ahead with supports from the get-go. A three-sided trellis is perfect for cukes, tall, sturdy supports ($50) corral the tomatoes, and a roll of twine ($12) is a staple to keep other plants in bounds.
Pick up the Right Tools
Yippee! Raised bed gardens rarely require big, heavy tools. However, great hand tools are essential. My favorites: This ergonomic tool set ($40) has almost everything you need. Then, add a Felco pruner ($61) and smaller snips ($15) to complete your kit.
Keep the Bugs at Bay
How do they know? The insect hotline telegraphs you’ve got good eats, and here they come! Keep your organic controls handy: Use insecticidal soap ($12) or worm and beetle dust ($21) to run the buggers off. These tricks will keep mosquitoes away from you.
Harvest Your Crop
You plan, plant and nurture. Then one day, it’s time to harvest and, wow, look at all of those veggies! Your raised bed garden has exceeded expectations—now you have to pick everything. This garden hod ($53) makes that easy. Rinse everything outdoors so clean produce comes into your kitchen (or try one of these tricks). Bon appetit!
Start from Seed
Most gardeners begin each season with small plants (called transplants). They’re easy, inexpensive, tried-and-true varieties. Eventually though, we start to notice the other options out there. That’s when we turn these heirloom seeds ($22) or possibly garlic sets ($7). Caution: It’s like opening Pandora’s Box!
Invest in Nice-to-Have Extras
Beyond the basics, there’s always more cool stuff for gardeners to have on hand. First, a rain gauge ($13). Besides precipitation, it measures how deeply the sprinkler waters. Then, there’s a lightweight garden hose ($72)—I keep one of these on my own deck. When not in use, I fold it up and tuck it out of sight so I can focus on my backyard.