Growing vegetables in raised beds or containers is valuable in several ways. Vegetables receive great drainage and an excellent growing medium. Raised beds warm up quicker in spring, resulting in better early development. In case you have trouble bending, raised beds or containers raise the plants up so that you can reach them easily. Choose the appropriate materials for making raised beds. A few possibilities are stone, wood, brick, straw bales or cement blocks. A wide variety of containers are suitable so long as they have drainage holes.
Vegetables require sunlight to grow well, so choose a place that needs at least six hours of sun a day. In regions with cool summers, provide just as much sunlight as possible. Choose the size of this raised bed. If you’re using timber, choose untreated wood — redwood and mixture stuff last longer. A great thickness for the majority of vegetables is 12 inches, with up to 36 inches required for deep-rooted plants such as tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum), that can be hardy at U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11. Raised bed widths are usually about 4 feet wide, but you can customize for narrower spaces. Beds can be any length, but they should be on level ground.
Match the size container to the vegetables you plan to grow in it. Shallow-rooted vegetables such as lettuce (Lactuca sativa) require a container in 9 to 12 inches tall, bigger or deeper-rooted vegetables such as carrots (Daucus carota) require about 14 to 16 inches of thickness, and plants with long roots require up to 18 inches. Containers have to be broad for a combined planting of vegetables or even huge varieties of tomatoes. Plan for the equivalent of a 15-gallon bud. To prevent container vegetables from drying out too quickly, choose a non-porous material such as glazed clay, plastic or fiberglass. Containers must have numerous drainage holes as opposed to just one.
Buy or mix a high quality growing medium to fill containers and beds. A industrial mix should contain peat moss and perlite. You can also mix equal parts of vermiculite, compost and sphagnum peat moss. Don’t use regular garden soil, which can introduce weeds, pests and pathogens. Another option for filling beds is to blend sterilized, high-quality dirt using equal parts of compost and aged manure. Add a controlled-release fertilizer formulated for three- to six-month release just prior to planting, if wanted. Select a product such as 15-9-12, using about 13 pounds per 1,000 square foot for beds and approximately 2 1/2 oz per 5-gallon container.
Determine what vegetables you will grow throughout the growing phases and that beds or containers will support them. In mild winter areas, grow vegetables almost year around, with cool-season vegetables growing through the fall and winter. Choose varieties suited for your growing conditions. Increase vegetables from seed sown approximately four to six weeks before you plant them at the beds. You can also buy transplants or direct-sow seeds to the beds or containers. Try broadcasting seeds for much more efficient space usage instead of putting them in rows. Crops such as radishes (Raphanus sativus), lettuce and carrots are best grown from seed.
Keep vegetables well watered. Allow the top 1 inch of soil to dry and then water thoroughly so the root zone is moist. Consider soaker hoses or drip irrigation for raised beds. Container dirt is affected by temperature, therefore pots require more frequent watering in warm, dry weather. Water containers until water comes from the drainage holes. Fertilize vegetables after they’ve grown 3 or 4 inches. Evenly sprinkle a fertilizer such as 5-10-10 over the surface of the bed at the speed of 1 to 2 pounds per 100 square foot. Dig it into the top layer of dirt and water it in thoroughly. If the harvest lasts longer than four months, repeat the fertilizer program.