Best Vegetables to Plant in Your Raised Garden Beds
Here are the best vegetables to plant in a raised bed, and a little to know about soil depth. When it comes to growing food, Florida screams for garden beds. Our “soil” is complete sand and would take years of mending and feeding it for us to be at the point where we can plant vegetables there. On The Green Acre Homestead, we plant all our crops in raised beds!
I grew cucumbers for the first time last season and it was SO much fun Definitely one of the best vegetables to plant in a raised garden bed! They vined all over the place and grew these beautiful yellow flowers, so make sure you have a trellis. A regular tomato trellis can do if you have one laying around! I harvested so many cucumbers from two plants it was unbelievable, really. Looking back, I could’ve used them a bit more wisely by planting them in a location that would’ve provided shade for my lettuce or kale. I’ve mentally noted that mistake and will adjust properly for this season. Cucumbers like full sun, so don’t be afraid to use their beautiful blanketing vines to provide shade for your other crops.
Tomatoes are another crop that can be used for shade and a vegetable (that’s actually a fruit!) to plant in your garden. If you don’t want to give, or don’t have, the space in your beds for crops like tomatoes and cucumbers you can grow them successfully in containers.
Tomatoes love, love, love full sun so slap those beefy, red beauties directly under it. You’ll want to plant deeply, mulch completely, and water generously. Be sure to trellis your tomatoes and prune the suckers that shoot off the bottom to promote great air circulation.
It’s said that you can plant a little pasta garden and repel pests. I don’t mean you’ll actually grow pasta, that’s not possible. But if you pair your garlic vegetable and basil herb with your tomatoes, there should be no nematodes at your garden party. I’m actually currently growing garlic and will be harvesting in the Spring, then planting another round to harvest in the summer. Garlic is a root plant so, depending on the variety you plant, you’ll need to make sure your raised bed is deep enough. You can also plant carrots near garlic to repel pests.
Beans are my husband’s favorite crop. Again, if you’re in need of shade, beans can be a great candidate. There are so many varieties of beans you can plant. I love french climbing and Kentucky wonder beans for when I need shade in the garden and don’t want to use my hoop gardens. I love blue lake bush beans if I just want beans with no trellis-stress. Beans provide the soil with nitrogen, so be sure to pair this crop with a heavy nitrogen feeder such as cabbage and broccoli to make this one of the best vegetables to plant in a raised garden bed.
We’ve only ever planted Red Russian Kale, and only had success with Red Russian Curl. This Spring season coming up, I’m going to try Blue Curled Scotch Kale so I’ll let you know how it goes. Red Russian Kale is a great vegetable to plant in a raised bed because it doesn’t take a lot of space and you can get away with planting them a little closer together than suggested. Beware though, kale can get mighty bitter in hot weather. I suggest masking it heavily with fruit juice and/or frozen fruit if trying to feed it to a picky husband.
I have an announcement! This winter is the first time I have ever successfully grown Bloomsdale Spinach in my vegetable garden! Seriously Y’all, that is a huge achievement for me. I don’t have a lot of it, but by God, it’s there and I’ve put it in a smoothie because my picky husband wouldn’t eat my bitter Red Russian Curly Kale. Yes, I’m pointing fingers.
I’ll tell you what variety of spinach I’ve had wild success with is New Zealand Spinach! New Zealand Spinach is a great vegetable to plant in the garden in every season, even summer because it is heat tolerant. A small disclaimer though, these plants get quite large. My spinach was planted right next to my cucumbers and it worked out perfectly.
Zucchini also requires some space but work so well in raised beds. These plants provide great shade for plants such as spinach in the garden and benefit from the nutrients left behind by spinach, too. Pair zucchini with garlic to repel aphids and do you remember when I said to plant nitrogen loving plants with beans? Zucchini is a great candidate for your nitrogen loving vegetable!
I grew okra for the first time this spring and summer and can’t wait to do it again! Okra flowers are so beautiful. Okra also loves the sun and can grow to be 6 to 8 feet tall! If you’re trying to grow okra in the cool weather, you’ll probably fail. This vegetable is great for a raised garden bed as long as it’s planted in the warm weather. The soil should be at least 65-70˚ consistently before planting. Oh, by the way, make sure you cut your okra pods while they’re small because the larger they get, the tougher they get. Trust me on that one, I know from experience.
I’ve read that collard greens need a lot of room to grow and get large, and that might be true, but last season I grew multiple small plants and got a ridiculously plentiful harvest. For this vegetable, you want to allow is adequate sunlight and moist, fertile soil. Collard Greens are also a great companion vegetable to plant in your garlic bed. Since garlic is a root vegetable and Collar Greens need room to grow upwards, plant these two together to maximize your space like you’ll be doing with your spinach and zucchini.
I’m going to toot my horn a little bit and let you know that I can grow some seriously wonderful carrots. A lot of gardeners have told me that carrots are a challenge for them so I don’t know what it is that I’m doing but I’ve just always had the best of luck with carrots. I suppose it could be the wonderful seeds I buy from Baker Creek Seeds! You won’t ever believe it, but garlic is a great companion plant for carrots. I’m laughing out loud because it seems like everything I plant loves garlic. Have you ever heard that thing about how the owner of a dog always matches their dog? If you’ve seen 101 Dalmations I know you know what. I wonder if it’s okay to say the same thing works with gardeners: the gardener matches their crops. What I’m trying to say is I LOVE GARLIC and will forever plant it in my vegetable garden.
Anyway, carrots are such a great crop to grow in raised beds and one of the most fun crops to harvest. I love the suspense of what it’ll look like when you pull it up from the ground! You’ll want to have loose soil for carrots and keep it moist. Don’t let that soil dry out!
What are you growing?
I’d love to hear about what you’re growing this Spring Season! You can email or leave me a comment below. Any tips and tricks you have are greatly appreciated, too. Gardeners helping gardeners, Y’all!