Planting Considerations for Raised Bed Gardening
What is a loft bed?

A raised bed is an above-ground garden plot that can be made by mounding soil into a bed 6 to 8 inches high without side supports, or you can buy or build a frame of wood, plastic panels, or other materials. These beds are usually small enough that the gardener can go outside the bed and care for all the plants without stepping into the garden bed. The ideal size for a raised bed is 3 to 4 feet wide and long enough to fit the available space. It is usually oblong and usually 8 to 12 feet long. Depending on the type of plant being planted, the bed may be a foot deep.

History of Loft Beds Using Loft Beds

The practice dates back to the Middle Ages, when farmers used hedges (walls of woven limbs and branches) to enclose their gardens. In the 18th century, gardeners in Parisian markets grew vegetables on raised beds, using the then abundant horse manure as fertilizer. The concept became popular again in the early 1970s, when gardeners built raised beds with freestanding frames to encourage improved crop production on smaller homesteads. With healthy soil and proper care, raised beds can yield a bountiful harvest in a small space.

To ensure healthy vegetable growing, you need to ensure:

The site is suitable for growing vegetables. For example, if the site doesn't get enough sunlight, the plants won't thrive.

Amend the soil with organic matter and other nutrients, and with proper preparation, control weeds. Poor soil hinders seed germination, root growth, nutrient availability, and leads to poor plant health and reduced yields. Compacted soil can also inhibit plant growth.

Choose the correct seeds and plants for your plant hardiness zone and follow planting guidelines. Plant at the correct depth and spacing, following the plant and seed packet directions. For Virginia, see the Home Garden Vegetables Guide for details. Some plants are not suitable for raised beds due to size or space requirements.

Proper and timely watering is essential because raised beds dry out faster than in-ground gardens. A dropper or soaker hose might be a good option. Always water at the base of the plant to help prevent disease.

Mulching around plants helps control weeds and retain moisture.

When starting from seed, thin the seedlings according to the seed packet directions to prevent the plants from becoming leggy and weak.

The leaves should touch when mature, but not overlap, or the plant may be crowded out or not get enough sun.

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of what it takes to have a successful raised vegetable garden and avoid the mistakes of last year's failed garden. Maintain a garden log to track successes and failures throughout the gardening season. You'll need this handy reference to continue experimenting next year. This is for a successful harvest for years to come!