Growing vegetables in raised beds is one of the easiest and most attractive ways to grow your own bountiful harvest.
Raised make it easier to reach your plants and cut down on weeding, watering, and space issues.
You can grow any number of vegetables in your raised bed, but some are more suited to the space than others.
Here are some of the easiest vegetables to grow in your raised beds and why.
Raised beds basics
Raised beds can be made of just about anything, but they are commonly made of pressure treated wooden planks.
You could also use an old stock tank, infant swimming pool, or oversized grow bags filled with soil.
You can purchase any number of raised bed kits or you can simply build your own. 4 X 8 is a popular size that makes it easy to reach your plants from all sides.
You can choose to build multiple raised beds, or just have one. The choice is up to you.
Plant Vegetables in raised beds with rich soil
The soil you use matters more than the type of raised bed you choose for growing vegetables. You want to fill them with a mixture of good quality topsoil, compost, and even some potting soil, perlite, or peat to add aeration and good drainage.
If you find the cost of filling your raised beds seems too prohibitive, you can fill the bottom of the bed with old, rotting logs.
As the logs decompose under the soil, they will feed your plants. This is known as hügelkultur.
You can also dig a trench down the middle of your raised beds and fill it with compost, aged manure, vegetable scraps, and even old straw.
After you’ve filled your trench, cover it with a little more soil. This will help feed your bed and keep moisture in.
Be careful of using hay and straw, because if it was treated with herbicides it might stunt the growth of your vegetables.
Benefits Of Growing Vegetables in an elevated garden bed
The benefits of using a raised beds for growing vegetablesare many. First, the higher the bed, the easier it is to reach your plants and the less strain it puts on your body.
Second, you’ll have less weeds and less pests in your beds. The soil warms more quickly in the spring, and small raised beds are easier to cover with glass to make a cold frame, plastic to make a simple greenhouse, and even trellises for your plants to grow on.
Because you are adding your own soil, you can make it extra rich with nutrients, which means you can plant more vegetables in a smaller space.
The soil will be looser, better draining, and more aerated than your typical garden soil, giving your vegetables a growing advantage.
And of course, planting in raised beds gives a nice, tidy appearance to your garden.
20 Easiest Vegetables To Grow In Raised Garden Beds And Containers
There are many different vegetables that you can grow in raised beds, but some are more suitable than others. Of course, you will want to pick the vegetables that your family loves to eat.
Be sure to plan out how you want to use the space in your raised bed so you don’t run out of space for all of the vegetables you want to plant.
Here are 20 easy vegetables you may want to grow in your own raised beds.
Carrots are easy to plant, easy to grow, and thrive in a raised bed. The loose, aerated soil of a raised bed gives them lots of room to grow, which is especially important for root vegetables like carrots.
Different varieties have different needs, but you can plant around 18 carrots in a square foot of space.
Carrot seeds are very tiny and only need to be planted about ¼ of an inch deep. Gently water the carrots, making sure not to wash the tiny seeds away.
You may want to plant twice as many seeds as you hope to grow in your space.
As the carrots grow, you should thin them to make sure they have plenty of room to grow. You can succession sow carrots throughout the season for a continuous harvest.
Kale needs about a square foot of space per plant. It also prefers cool weather, so you may want to plant your kale where it will get a little afternoon shade.
For example, if you have tomato plants in your raised bed, you could plant the kale where the tomato plants would shield it from the afternoon sun.
If you are transplanting kale plants into the raised bed, just plant them about a foot apart.
If you are planting them from seeds, you can sprinkle a few seeds in the center of each square foot.
When the kale begins to grow, you can snip off the weaker seedlings that are growing more slowly.
Cucumbers come in both bush and vining varieties. You can grow either one in a raised bed, but if your bed is small and you want to grow vining cucumbers, you might want to use a trellis.
Train your cucumbers will grow right up the trellis, making the fruit easy to spot and easy to pick.
Cucumber seeds should be planted about six inches apart and no more than one inch deep. Plant them close to the trellis if you are using one. You don’t need to plant them in hills if you.
Lettuce is a great addition to any raised bed. It is a cool weather crop, but it also grows quickly. You can plant your lettuce seeds close to your tomatoes, peppers, or other larger plants.
The lettuce will be ready to harvest before the larger plants reach maturity. You can also squeeze in a few lettuce plants in corners or awkward spots.
Sprinkle your lettuce seeds in a thin line or small block and gently cover them over with soil. Water them very lightly so that the tiny seeds don’t get washed away.
Once the lettuce begins to get established, you can harvest from every other plant so that you are thinning the lettuce as it grows.
Continue to sow four season lettuce seeds every two weeks whenever you have a little space available in your raised bed.
This will keep you in fresh greens all summer long without wasting precious space in your raised bed.
Radishes are one of the fastest growing veggies, making them perfect for growing in raised beds. You can plant radish seeds alongside larger plants.
The radishes will be ready to harvest in 35 to 60 days, long before your larger plants reach maturity.
You can squeeze radishes in anywhere you have a little opening or spot that needs filled. Dig a tiny trench wherever you would like your radishes to grow, then gently sprinkle the seeds in.
Cover them over lightly with soil and water carefully. Radish seeds can get washed away easily.
If you plant your seeds thickly, you may need to do some thinning.
Spinach can be planted near your lettuce and radishes without any problems. However, it grows best in cooler weather, so you may want to start your spinach early.
Once it is harvested, use that spot for something else, such as radishes, and then plant more spinach again in late summer or early fall when the weather begins to cool off again.
Under the right conditions, spinach will germinate within a week. Plant it just like you would lettuce.
You can dig a tiny trench and sprinkle your spinach seeds along the trench. Cover over lightly with soil, then water gently.
Spinach can be eaten at any point, so instead of thinning your spinach, you can harvest the baby leaves for eating. Try to harvest every other plant so the other plants have room to grow.
Tomatoes are versatile and easy to grow. If your raised bed is small, you may want to choose a smaller variety of tomato, such as a cherry tomato.
Determinate tomatoes will take up a little less room, and indeterminate tomatoes will need more space.
You can grow them on trellises or cages, or just let them flop over the edge of your raised bed, if you prefer.
It is easiest to plant started plants from a nursery. Space them about two feet apart to give them plenty of growing room.
If you love cucumbers but are short on space, you might be interested in cucamelons. They look like miniature watermelons but taste like a sweet, lemony cucumber.
These delicate veggies grow quickly on small vines, so you will want to have a trellis for them to grow on.
You can start cucamelons indoors in compostable pots about 6 weeks before your last frost date. Give them a week or two to harden off, and then plant the entire pot in your raised bed.
Using compostable pots will cut down on transplant shock and allow your cucamelons to get a fast start.
9. Summer Squash
Summer squashes are prolific producers and come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. If your space is small, you may want to consider bush varieties such as bush zucchini, yellow squash, and patty pan.
Leave a little breathing room around each plant so that it has plenty of air circulation.
Otherwise, when the weather gets humid, your plants will be more susceptible to problems such as downy mildew.
The great part of these squashes is they produce heavily and quickly, giving you a lot of food in a small space.
If you have a trellis or extra room, you could grow vining varieties of squash such as spaghetti squash, acorn squash, or even small pumpkins.
However, growing a larger or heavier variety of squash might mean you need to support the fruit as it gets large.
You can do this by using old. stockings or pantyhose to create a small hammock to give a little extra support to your squash.
Mint is a great choice for a raised bed because it can easily take over a garden or yard. Plant it in a corner that gets full sun and once established, harvest often. Just make sure to keep it from taking over your entire raised bed!
Mint can be difficult to grow from seed. The best way to grow healthy mint is to get some from a friend or neighbor nearby who has a similar growing climate and soil properties.
Dig up a square foot size, if possible, making sure to get plenty of roots. Plant it in its new spot and water thoroughly. Once established, it is very drought tolerant and takes little maintenance.
Peas are a great addition to raised beds because they can start producing in as little as 45 days.
Choose a dwarf variety if you don’t have a trellis, or just allow the pea vines to trail over the sides of your raised bed.
Direct sow pea seeds early in the season while it is still cool. They will be one of the first plants you can put in the garden and one of the first to start producing.
You can plant them close together. Harvesting them often will help them produce more.
There are two basic types of beans that you can grow in your raised beds. Bush beans are smaller and need no trellis. For the best harvest, you’ll want to succession plant your bush beans every two weeks or so throughout the summer.
You can also plant pole beans in your raised bed, but these will need a trellis, pole, or wire to grow on. They will produce beans for a longer period of time.
Plant your beans in a sunny spot, about one inch deep and six or seven inches apart. Bush beans will need to thinned a little bit, but pole beans will have room to grow up their trellis.
You can place your trellis to provide a little afternoon shade for cool weather vegetables, such as lettuce and spinach.
Celery plants have a shallow root system, making them ideal for a raised bed.
You can grow them from seed, from starter plants, or even by regrowing a new plant from the heart of a bunch of celery you purchased at the supermarket.
Celery prefers cooler weather, so you can start your seeds indoors eight to ten weeks before your last frost date. Harden your seedlings off before planting them in your raised bed.
Celery needs plenty of water and compost to grow, just make sure it doesn’t sit in soggy soil or the roots will begin to rot. Once the plant is established, you can harvest from it continuously.
You may want to side-dress it with some extra compost throughout the season to ensure that it continues to grow well.
Some varieties of celery can be ready to harvest in as little as 80 days.
If you want to squeeze in a few extra vegetables into your raised beds, onions are a good choice. However, you’ll want to plant them away from your peas and beans.
The easiest way to grow onions is to purchase onion sets and plant the tiny bulbs in early spring.
However, you can also start onions from seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks before your last frost date to give them a jump on the growing season.
Onions can be a natural pest deterrent for some vegetables, so you may want to squeeze your onions in around your kales, broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes, lettuce, and peppers.
Since onions don’t take up a lot of space, you can fit a few more in the spaces between your larger plants. If you prefer you can plant your onions in a block or square foot section.
Your peppers love sun and heat, and can be planted right alongside your tomato plants, if you desire. They are easy to grow and require little maintenance.
If you are growing your peppers from seed, you may want to start them indoors 8 to 10 weeks before your last frost date.
Peppers can be a little finicky to grow from seed, especially chili peppers. However, if you purchase started plants from a nursery, you can put them in your raised bed any time after the danger of frost has passed.
Average pepper plants should be planted 12 to 18 inches apart. You may want to stake your peppers to give them a little extra support when the fruit gets heavy, especially for varieties such as bell peppers.
If the plants begin to set flowers when they are very small, pinch off the flowers to allow the plant time to mature before it puts its energy into producing its fruit.
Quick maturing, beets can be ready to eat in as little as 60 days. They do need a little space, so plant your seeds about two to three inches apart and no more than an inch deep.
You’ll want to make sure your raised bed is at least 12 inches deep for your beets to grow big enough.
Beets need to be well-watered, without sitting in soggy soil. Harvest your beets when they are still a little on the smaller side, for a sweeter, tastier beet.
Each potato plant should yield anywhere from three to five pounds of potatoes. For best results, start with your potato bed half full, and plant your seed potatoes three inches deep and one foot apart.
As the potato plants grow, add soil or mulch to your raised bed. Early varieties of potatoes can be spaced a little closer together, and later varieties will need a little extra room.
Make sure you know which variety of potato you are planting and the approximate harvest time so you know when to dig them up.
Potatoes don’t grow well in close proximity to cucumbers, squash, carrots, turnips, and brassicas. You may want to consider giving your potatoes their own raised bed, if you have the space.
This spicy salad green is easy to grow in a raised bed. Just like spinach and lettuce, it prefers a little bit cooler temperatures. Plant it so that it will receive a bit of afternoon shade in the heat of the summer.
Arugala seeds are very tiny and easy to lose in the planting process. For best results, plan out a small block of space to plant your arugala in.
Make sure the soil is nice and smooth, then sprinkle the little seeds evenly across the top of the soil. Use your hand to gently pat them in, then water very lightly.
You can harvest arugala when it is young for a sweeter tasting green. More mature plants will be a little bit spicier.
Plants that grow in the heat of the summer may turn bitter and bolt, however, the flowers are also edible.
19. Swiss Chard
Both colorful and nutritious, Swiss Chard grows well in raised beds and container gardens. You can start Swiss Chard early in the spring while the weather is still cool. It easily tolerates both cold and heat.
Set your Swiss Chard out twelve to eighteen inches apart. Keep it well watered. You can eat Swiss Chard any time the leaves are big enough. Younger leaves are more tender and have a better flavor.
Zucchini loves full sun and hot weather. You can direct sow your zucchini plants right into your raised bed or container as soon as the soil is warm. Mix lots of aged compost into the soil to keep it aerated and loose.
Plant seeds about half an inch deep and three to four inches apart. Once the plants are established, you will probably need to thin them to at least six inches apart. Keep your plants evenly watered to prevent blossom end rot.
Bush varieties will take up less room in your raised bed, but vining varieties can make use of vertical space when grown on a trellis.
If you choose vining varieties, you can squeeze in a few extra plants. If you like, you can also allow the vines to spill over the edges of your raised beds.
Zucchinis are best when harvested between three and eight inches long. Larger zucchinis lose their flavor and take on a less-than palatable texture, even though they are technically still edible.
No matter what vegetables are deemed the ‘easiest’ to grow in a raised bed, ultimately, you should plant the vegetables that you and your family enjoy eating.
It is just a waste of time, energy, money, and space if you plant vegetables that you’ll never eat. Choose your favorite vegetables and get growing!
Amber Noyes was born and raised in a suburban California town, San Mateo. She holds a master’s degree in horticulture from the University of California as well as a BS in Biology from the University of San Francisco. With experience working on an organic farm, water conservation research, farmers’ markets, and plant nursery, she understands what makes plants thrive and how we can better understand the connection between microclimate and plant health. When she’s not on the land, Amber loves informing people of new ideas/things related to gardening, especially organic gardening, houseplants, and growing plants in a small space.