Now that we have covered basics of creating raised beds, let’s explore some of the design considerations. Ideally, we want to make the most of our space with raised beds. Keep in mind the foods you and your household enjoy to eat. Another major factor to consider when growing is if you plan to only eat the produce fresh or plan to preserve the harvest. If you plan to only consume fresh produce you will need to be cautious of overplanting, unless you have local food banks or friends you can share with. There is a great design calculator to help you plan how much square footage is ideal for your family size at https://morningchores.com/vegetable-garden-size/. You can adjust your family size and the types of produce you wish to grow. Keep in mind this calculator is for preserving produce to feed each individual throughout the year.
To make the most of your space, you can utilize a planting method called intercropping. Interplanting or intercropping basically involves using 2-3 crops in the same planting area, at roughly the same time, for some beneficial purpose. The goal is to get the interplanted crops to support each other’s growing habits, so you get a better result in the garden. One common method of intercropping is planting radishes with your carrots. Carrots are slow to germinate and radishes reach maturity quickly. The radishes will reduce weeds and you will get a harvest before the carrots are large enough to need the space the radishes were in.
Another example if intercropping can be pairing larger plants such as cabbage and broccoli with fast growing smaller crops of spinach, leafy lettuces, arugula, etc. . While the spinach and lettuces are reaching maturity, the cabbage and cauliflower/broccoli will just now be filling out to needing the space as you harvest your spinach leaves and other greens. Beets are another great crop you can intercrop with your larger, slower growing plants.
When designing your raised bed you want to make the most of your space while still allowing adequate airflow, which is vital to certain disease control. Being aware of the growing space your plants will take up as well as what grows best together is going to be a factor in how you design your bed. There are garden design apps that allow you to pick what you want to grow and help provide a layout for you to create your bed based on spacing. Another good method before putting any seeds or starts in the ground is to draw it out on paper. Having a thought out plan will allow you to make the most of your raised beds.
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