Do you like organic gardening? Then you’ll appreciate this colorful and super helpful chart. It’s all about companion planting, an easy and effective permaculture technique that will help your vegetable garden flourish. The idea is that certain plants grow especially well together (and repel pests). Try it! You’ll probably become a convert to companion planting, like me.
Try these organic tips and tricks to get the most out of your planting space
Raised beds are great: the soil in them warms and dries out earlier in the spring than regular garden beds, so you can get planting sooner. They allow us to garden without fighting stones and roots, and the soil in them stays perfectly fluffy since it doesn’t get walked on.
Of course, there are a few drawbacks: in hot dry weather, raised beds tend to dry out quickly. Roots from nearby trees will eventually find their way into your nice, nutrient-dense soil.
Here are ten even high-yield strategies that will make the most of a raised garden bed space.
Ten Tips for Raised Garden Beds
# 1: Never Walk On The Soil
The biggest advantage of raised bed gardening is the light, fluffy, absolutely perfect soil you’re able to work with as a result. When you build your raised beds, build them so that you’re able to reach every part of the bed without having to stand in it. Raised garden bed soil doesn’t need to be tilled as it is not compacted, but this can happen if you walk on the soil in the bed
# 2: Mulch after planting.
Mulch with newspaper, straw, grass clippings, leaves, or wood chips after planting your garden. This will reduce the amount of weeding you’ll have to do and keep the soil moist.
# 3: Plan your irrigation system.
Two of the best ways to irrigate a raised bed are by soaker hose and drip irrigation. If you plan it ahead of time and install your irrigation system before planting, you can save yourself a lot of work and time spent standing around with a hose later on.
# 4: Install a barrier to roots and weeds.
If you have large trees in the area, or just want to ensure that you won’t have to deal with weeds growing up through your perfect soil, consider installing a barrier at the bottom of the bed. This could be a commercial weed barrier, a piece of old carpet, or a thick piece of corrugated cardboard. If you have an existing raised bed and find that you’re battling tree roots every year, you may have to excavate the soil, install the barrier, and refill with the soil. It’s a bit of work, but it will save you tons of work later on.
# 5: Add nutrient enhanced compost annually.
Gardening in a raised bed is, essentially, like gardening in a really, really large container. As with any container garden, the soil will settle and get depleted as time goes on. You can mitigate this by adding a one to two-inch layer of compost or composted manure each spring before you start planting.
# 6: Fluff the soil with a garden fork as needed.
To lighten compacted soil in your raised bed, simply stick a garden fork as deeply into the soil as possible, and wiggle it back and forth. Do that at eight to twelve-inch intervals all over the bed, and your soil will be nicely loosened without a lot of backbreaking work.
# 7: Cover up your soil at the end of the gardening season
Add a layer of organic mulch or plant a cover crop at the end of your growing season. Soil that is exposed to harsh winter weather breaks down and compacts much faster than protected soil. This technique also keeps the soil nutrient enhanced
To get the maximum yields from each bed, pay attention to how you arrange your plants. Avoid planting in square patterns or rows. Instead, stagger the plants by planting in triangles. By doing so, you can fit 10 to 14 percent more plants in each bed.
Just be careful not to space your plants too tightly. Some plants won’t reach their full size—or yield—when crowded. For instance, when one researcher increased the spacing between romaine lettuces from 8 to 10 inches, the harvest weight per plant doubled. (Remember that weight yield per square foot is more important than the number of plants per square foot.)
Overly tight spacing can also stress plants, making them more susceptible to diseases and insect attack.
No matter how small your garden, you can grow more by going vertical. Grow space-hungry vining crops—such as tomatoes, pole beans, peas, squash, melons, cukes, and so on—straight up, supported by trellises, fences, cages, or stakes.
Growing vegetables vertically also saves time. Harvest and maintenance go faster because you can see exactly where the fruits are. And upward-bound plants are less likely to be hit by fungal diseases thanks to the improved air circulation around the foliage.
Try growing vining crops on trellises along one side of raised beds, using sturdy end posts with nylon mesh netting or string in between to provide a climbing surface. Tie the growing vines to the trellis. But don’t worry about securing heavy fruits—even squash and melons will develop thicker stems for support.
Mix It Up
Companion planting saves space, too. Consider the classic Native American combination, the “three sisters”—corn, beans, and squash. Sturdy cornstalks support the pole beans, while squash grows freely on the ground below, shading out competing weeds. This combination works because the crops are compatible. Other compatible combinations include tomatoes, basil, and onions; leaf lettuce and peas or brassicas; carrots, onions, and radishes; and beets and celery.
There are many basics to having a successful garden in a raised bed, Remember to be flexible and open to new ideas that can help your garden