Don’t Wait Til Spring To Begin Your Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

Benefit: Make Your Garden More Attractive

My dad was a big believer in raised bed gardening.  In fact, it seems that most agree that gardeners who use raised beds are at an advantage–this is especially true in the north, where deeply buried soil tends to warm more slowly.

Design Tip: Space Them Correctly

Design Tip: Grow Up with Vines

Here is what BHG Online has to say about the concept: “Include trellises, obelisks, or tuteurs in your raised-bed gardening plans. Buy or build one or two to grow vining crops such as peas, beans, cucumbers, and even tomatoes. The extra height brings visual drama to your plantings, especially if most of what you grow is relatively short.” See more images and the rest of the opinion at:

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

This is what the article does not say:  Don’t wait until spring to build and prepare your raised beds.  While you could definitely wait until spring to do the actual building–the hammering the nails, the soil prep cannot be postponed.  After the frame is built, soil has to be added to the frame, and if you have to buy soil, it will need to be amended.   That process cannot be rushed.

The bulk of plants–especially vegetables and flowers–will not grow in acidic soil, and most bought soil is highly acidic.  You will need to add limestone to neutralize the soil, and that process will require at least 3 months.


I have made a tremendous amount of soil by composting newspapers, leaves, and grass clippings, but this is another slow process, and the soil that you ultimately create will also be highly acidic.  It would take a couple of years to compost all the soil to fill the raised bed that I have designed [below] and after that, I would still have to add lime and wait a few more months for that to process into soil that is not too acidic. In either scenario, it is essential to begin the process at least several months ahead.  It is mid-August now, and I have already begun preparing my next raised bed, which consists of a rectangle that is 8′ x 10,’ a rectangle that is 4′ x 12′, and a triangle that is 8′ x’ 8′ x 8′.


I have planned the garden so that the most alkaline-needing plants are in one area and the most acid-needing plants are in another.  The artichoke and the lavender [that I’ve planned for the triangle] demand the most alkaline soil, and I’ll begin filling that area first.

Within the rectangular areas, the left will be more alkaline and the far right half of the larger rectangle will be more nearly acidic.



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