One of the advantages of raised beds is the ability to produce more crops in a smaller space, says David W. Sams, plant and soil science professor from the University of Tennessee. Vegetables and flowers are planted densely making routine care relatively easy. There are obvious drawbacks, such as not being able to grow large vining plants like squash, not being able to use cultivators or garden tillers in the soil, and that raised beds drain quickly and typically require more water. Overall, raised beds provide a good alternative when either space is limited, or the existing soil is unsuitable for gardening.
Prepare the soil by adding fertilizer before planting. Follow the recommended application rate on the container. Because vegetables in raised beds are planted close together, side dressing with fertilizer later generally is not an option. Plan to use water-soluble fertilizer, if supplemental fertilizer is needed during the growing season.
Sow seeds to the recommended spacing indicated on the back of the seed packet. For example, plant bean seeds 4 inches part in a row. Begin a new row 4 inches from the first row. The University of Arizona Extension Office recommends planting seeds so they alternate when planting more than one row. Seeds in the second row should be planted across from the space between seeds in the first row. This creates a grid of plants that are spaced equally in all directions.
Plant seeds to the recommended seed depth. Typically, seeds require a depth of two to three times the length of the seed. Refer to the seed packet for specifics of your particular plants.
Thin seedlings to the desired spacing when they are 2 to 4 inches high. Eat thinned leafy vegetables in salads or cooked as fresh greens. Young beets seedlings make delicious greens when cooked and served with a pat of butter.