I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: raised beds are the best way to grow vegetables. When it comes to raised beds, the deeper they are, the better. Soil levels settle with rain, and I like at least 10″ depth for growing most vegetables. My beds are 18″ deep, mainly because the greater height makes for easier weeding, planting and harvesting. Rick built them with 2′ x 6′ boards beneath 2″ x 12″ boards. They have shifted a bit over the years, but still give me a good 18″ of soil depth. I can do all my weeding while sitting on a 5 gallon bucket.
As you can see, with a decent depth of soil you can cram a lot of plants into a small space. This was taken the first year when the beds were still new.
If you don’t want to build your own beds, there are a number of types of pre-made beds that you can purchase. They’re easy to assemble and some are even self-watering. I prefer 4′ x 4′ beds, but any length is ok as long as the width is no more than 4′. If your beds are any wider, you won’t be able to reach into every part of the bed. This is important so you can avoid having to step inside the bed, compacting the soil and damaging growing roots.
For growing vegetables, you need a southern exposure, with lots of direct sunlight. Check the lighting in the spot you’d like to put your beds throughout the day to ensure that no trees or houses will shade your garden. Bear in mind that you want an adequate walkway between your beds, wide enough for a wheelbarrow or lawn mower. Here are some choices for raised beds that are reasonably affordable. Click on the pix for the links.
Whatever type of bed you use, it’s important to line them with landscape fabric so weeds don’t grow up into your beds. Make sure you’ve picked a well drained spot (check after a hard rain for standing puddles – don’t plant there!) in direct sunlight. Fill them with Mel’s mix (1/3 coarse vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 compost) and get ready for the easiest gardening you’ll ever do.