Warm Season Veggies for Raised Beds
From mid-spring until fall, your double raised bed garden will overflow with tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, peppers, eggplant and many other veggies that love the heat. And once you experience the success that a raised bed offers, you might just want to expand you garden with multiple beds so you can grow even more delicious, nutritious summer vegetables.
Large Plants Need More Room
When planning your warm season raised bed, remember that some vegetables grow quite large. Zucchini, for example, can fill most of a 3.5 by 3.5 foot bed, so don't overplant: plant your seeds 3 inches apart around the edges of a two-foot circle in the center of your bed. When plants are several inches tall, thin all but the strongest three or four. Tomatoes can also take up lots of space: if you want to conserve space, choose determinate varieties, which remain more compact than indeterminate types. Providing stakes for your tomatoes also helps to keep their sprawling vines under control.
Smaller Plants Need Less Room
Eggplant and sweet and hot peppers are smaller plants than tomatoes and zucchini, so you can plant more of them in less space. Because these veggies also belong to the nightshade family of plants, they are compatible with tomatoes. When you plant tomatoes down the center of your double raised bed, plant the other nightshades about 1.5 feet away from the tomatoes and 2 feet apart, along the edges of your bed. Root crops such as carrots, onions, beets and turnips also require less space than the larger plants, so you might choose to include some of these along the borders of your bed in areas where you don't plant the nightshades.
Grow Up, Not Out
Conserve space by growing vining vegetables on trellises or stakes. Cucumbers can spread out for many feet and take up valuable surface areas where you could otherwise grow more plants. Pole beans, pumpkins and melons also do well when you train them to grow up. If you place your raised bed next to a fence or building, it's easy to attach a purchased lattice, which will give your plants lots of room to roam without covering the soil with their foliage and fruit.
One double raised bed provides plenty of room to grow all of the ingredients you need to make a tasty salsa. Plant two to four tomato plants down the center or your bed, leaving at least two feet between plants. Pear or "Roma" tomatoes have less juice and endure hot summers better than the round varieties. Plant onion sets and garlic cloves two inches apart around the outer border. Behind them plant cilantro seeds. Eight to 12 inches closer to the tomatoes, plant young hot chile plants: choose from a variety of types, such as jalapeño, habañero, "Thai" and others.
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