Raised bed planting is a technique using elevated garden beds rather than planting directly in the ground. A raised bed can be a temporary mound of dirt that extends up to 6 inches or a deeper, specially built container filled with soil. Using a raised bed allows the gardener to control the soil's nutrient level easily and provides the plants with more warmth than they would received if planted in traditional methods, making for an earlier harvest and greater yields.
Choose a design for your container bed. Old railroad ties, barrels, or raised mounds of dirt are acceptable forms of raised gardening. The University of Missouri Extension suggests a rectangular bed that is at least 4 feet in width to allow for the greatest growing possibilities.
Use a good quality topsoil for the raised bed to ensure for the greatest nutrient composition. Choose a loose top soil to create better growing conditions for your plants, if your soil has a high clay or sand content, add organic material such as compost or decomposed manure. The University of Missouri suggests tilling the soil under the area where the open-bottom raised bed will be sited to improve drainage.
Work on the raised garden from the sides--outside the bed--to prevent soil compaction. Purdue University Extension suggests raising the garden to a height where excessive bending over for elderly and disabled gardeners, though beds over 18 inches deep should have material that improves drainage, like gravel, sand or drainage tile in the bottom for best result.
Plant your seeds or transplants earlier. Purdue Extension says that raised-bed soil warms quicker in the spring, making earlier planting and harvesting possible. Water regularly however, as the warmer soil will use more water.
Pull weeds as they develop throughout the season.