Raised bed gardening allows you to grow vegetables in poor soil, in small spaces and earlier in the season. Raised beds elevate the soil level above the existing ground, giving plenty of room for amendments to improve it. They also maximize your gardening space, especially if used with gardening methods such as square-foot gardening. The soil in raised beds warms earlier in spring, enabling you to sow your garden earlier. Planning your vegetable garden to benefit from these attributes requires only a minimal effort.
Prepare the soil in the raised bed. Till it to a 12 to 18 inch depth, tilling into the underlying soil layer if necessary. Place a fresh 3- to 5-inch layer of mature compost on top of the raised bed and till it into the soil.
Place transplants into the bed. Space them so that each plant will just touch once it reaches maturity.
Place stakes, trellises or cages in the bed immediately after planting. Tie up plants such as tomatoes as they grow to prevent them from sprawling over the neighboring plants.
Fertilize the bed with a balanced fertilizer when the plants begin setting fruit, as raised beds drain nutrients faster than traditional beds. Follow fertilization recommendations for the specific vegetable varieties in your bed.
Water the raised bed as often as necessary to keep the soil moist, as it will dry out faster than a traditional bed. Check soil moisture every 2 to 3 days. Keep it evenly moist, not soggy. Applying a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch preserves soil moisture in the bed.