Deciding which vegetables to grow in raised beds is a personal decision that should be based on the type of vegetables your family prefers to eat. Tomatoes, cucumbers and salad greens are popular choices of vegetables to grow in raised beds. Growing vegetables in raised beds allows you to control the soil the plants grow in and the nutrients the individual plants receive which can lead to an increased yield and longer growing season.
There are two ways to grow cucumbers in raised beds. The first way is to plant them along the edge of the raised bed so they can trail over the edge. The other option is to train them to grow vertically by training them to grow up a trellis.
Cucumbers need to be kept cool and moist so they do not become bitter. To achieve this in raised beds, lay soaker hoses in raised beds and interplant radish around the root system. The leaves of the radish will keep the cucumber roots cool and help repel cucumber beetles.
Salad greens such as lettuce, mache, arugula, mesclun mixes and spinach are all good choices for vegetables to grow in raised beds. Growing salad greens in a raised bed will allow you to continue to grow and harvest them year-round.
Salad greens do best in rich, well-drained soil. Positioning the raised bed in an area with some shade will allow you to grow salad greens throughout the summer months. In addition to providing shade, cool the soil by adding three inches of finished compost to the top of the soil in the raised bed before planting and use soaker hoses on a timer to keep the soil moist.
Placing a simple cold frame, which is a protective covering made of plastic or glass placed over a wood, plastic or straw frame, over the raised bed of salad greens when fall arrives will allow you to harvest the salad greens most of the winter.
Tomatoes do quite well in raised beds filled with organic matter such as compost. Tomatoes prefer warm soil to grow in. The soil in raised beds typically warms up faster than ground level soil. To help warm the soil in early spring, add three layers of compost to the top of the soil. Another option is to lay black or colored plastic on top of the soil to help hold the heat in.
Tomatoes grown in raised beds can be trellised or grown in tomato cages.
As with salad greens, adding a cold frame to the raised beds the tomatoes are growing in will allow you to plant them earlier in the season and continue to harvest them later in the year.