An Uncomplicated Life Blog: Planting A Raised Vegetable Garden For Maximum Yield


Monday, April 20, 2020

Planting A Raised Vegetable Garden For Maximum Yield

When you plant multiple varieties of plants in one container or raised bed, there's a layout to follow so that you get the most veggies for your space

This will be my third summer growing veggies. Let me tell you, it's been a learning curve! Texas is a much different climate than most areas, and we essentially have a 12 month growing period. I've learned about summer plants and fall plants. That barely anything survives August here. That plenty of plants happily thrive in our winter months (that's mind boggling to me, coming from Minnesota!) That I need to rotate out my veggies not for "summer and winter" but more like spring and fall so that they can grow during summer and winter. Lots of lessons as a newbie and also as someone who wasn't familiar with the Texas growing climate! The other big lesson learned was how to space our plants and properly plan my raised garden for maximum veggie yield. There is definitely a right and a wrong way for that. Here's how to plant a raised vegetable garden for maximum yield, or in other words, how to grow the most veggies for the space you have.

The first step is figuring out your light. You want to know what part of your garden gets light first and the direction light travels. My bed was planned to have nearly full sun, all day long (8+ hours). The left side of the bed gets it first, and the right side is the last to get light before the sun sets. If we had placed it in a different spot in our yard or build another one, odds are good (because we have large live oak trees) that parts of it would be "partial shade" meaning that they'd only get 6 or so hours of sun. Shade plants are considered full shade with just 4 hours of direct sunlight a day. Knowing how the light hits your bed will help you pick your species of veggies. How much sun is required to grow each plant is always listed on the seed package or the insert that's stuck in the dirt of your sprouted plant.

Speaking of that insert (or back of the seed package), read it! Because it will tell you the second thing you need to know. How much physical room the plant needs to grow and how tall it will get. If you plant too many plants, they'll block the light from each other and not produce as much fruit (or veggies, in this case). Make sure and follow those directions! I didn't my fist year. I basically just dumped a bunch of seeds in the ground and waited to see what would happen. I had carrots that grew intertwined together and were so hard to pull up out of the ground - and nearly impossible to eat. I ended up making carrot cake with them so that I could grind them up. My kids didn't complain about that...

Just as important, the height. Like I said, my light hits the left side of my raised bed first, then moves right. So I wouldn't want to plant a tall tomato plant on the far left side, followed by some radishes, then perhaps some spinach because the tomatoes would block the light to all the other veggies. Where ever your light source is, plant your shorted veggie first, then progressively plant taller and taller plants so that the last space to get light has the tallest plant. This way, that fall plant won't block everyone else's light and all your veggies will stay sunny and happy.

This Rapunzel tomato plant is supposed to grow to 5 feet tall! It's placed in the back of the garden so that it won't block other plants' light

There's also pairings of plants that go and grow well together and plants that shouldn't be grown next to each other (or even in the same garden bed) because one will attract a pest that eats the fruit of the neighbor plant. I'm still learning about all the ins and outs of this, but I do know that I have vicious squirrels who love to eat my tomatoes. So this year, I planted a hot pepper plant near the tomatoes to discourage the squirrels from eating my fruit! That will be a bummed out squirrel who takes a big bite of a spicy pepper thinking he's diving into a delicious tomato. I've also learned that I can spray the plants with a cayenne pepper and water spray that should discourage any brave squirrels. I'll let you know how that goes.

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Gardening has been so fun to learn about, and to teach my kids about. Everyone - all four boys, the dog and myself - love going outside and digging in the dirt! The kids will even try the veggies we grow, which is a huge win. Even if they only take a bite, at least they tried it and know that growing food takes time and care. Sure we can all run to the grocery store and pick it up there, but all that food comes from somewhere and I'm happy that my kids are learning about it! With six people in my family, it's important to plant my raised vegetable garden for a maximum yield

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