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Raised Bed Gardens Original Presentation Prepared by Charlotte Glen, NC Cooperative Extension Service. Raised Beds. Raised Beds. Growing Vegetables: Site Selection. To grow well, vegetables need optimal conditions: Sun: Full Sun for best results

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Raised Bed GardensOriginal Presentation Prepared byCharlotte Glen, NC Cooperative Extension Service

Growing vegetables site selection
Growing Vegetables: Site Selection

  • To grow well, vegetables need optimal conditions:

    • Sun: Full Sun for best results

      • Full Sun = at least 6-8 hours per day

    • Good drainage

    • Well prepared soil

    • pH ~6.0 – 6.5

    • Adequate nutrients

    • Consistent water supply

Growing vegetables site selection1
Growing Vegetables: Site Selection

  • For best results, start with a good site!

    • Full Sun

    • Well drained soil (water does not stand after rainfall)

    • Water source close by!

  • Modify soil based on soil test results (pH, nutrients)

  • Mix compost into the soil

Starting vegetables
Starting Vegetables

  • Seed

    • Some vegetables are sown directly into the garden to grow in place

    • These typically grow from large seed and fast to grow (eg. cucumbers), or do not like to be transplanted (root crops)

  • Transplants

    • Other vegetables are planted in the garden as small plants, called transplants

    • Slower growing plants or plants with smaller seed

How vegetables are typically planted

Seed Sown Direct






Garden Peas

Beans and Field Peas


Sweet Corn


As Transplants








Sweet Potatoes

How Vegetables are Typically Planted

Some can be planted more than one way
Some can be planted more than one way:

  • Lettuce and Spinach

    • Can be planted as single plants or sown direct as ‘bed’ – common method for Mesclunmixes

  • Onion and Garlic planted from ‘cloves’ and ‘sets’ = small bulbs. Onion can also be grown from transplants.

Types of vegetable varieties
Types of Vegetable Varieties

  • Open Pollinated

    • ‘Heirloom’ varieties – can save own seed and varieties will come true to type

  • Hybrid

    • Result of a cross between 2 or more parents – saved seed do not come true

    • Usually more uniform, more vigorous, more disease resistant

Planting times
Planting Times

When to plant depends on what you are growing:

  • Cool Season crops

    • grow fall – spring

    • e.g. lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, onions

  • Warm Season crops

    • grow spring (after frost) – fall

    • e.g. corn, melons, squash, peppers, tomatoes

Vegetable garden calendar
Vegetable Garden Calendar

  • Early Spring: Feb, Early March

    • Plant cool season crops outside to

      harvest through early summer (June)

  • Spring: April, May

    • Plant warm season crops outside to produce through summer (usually finish by August)

  • Late Summer: Aug, Sept

    • Plant quick maturing warm season crops to harvest through first frost

    • Plant cool season crops

      • Quick maturing, half hardy – harvest in fall through Dec.

      • Long season, hardy– stand through winter

Planning crop rotation
Planning: Crop Rotation

  • Do not grow same crop or crop from same family in same spot year after year

  • Rotate areas crops are grown

  • Reduces pest problems

    • Insects, diseases, and weeds

  • Must know which plants are related to plan rotation

Crop rotation
Crop Rotation

  • Brassicas (Mustard Family):

    • Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Collards, Kale, Mustard, Radish, Turnips, Rutabaga, Kohlrabi

  • Cucurbits (Squash Family):

    • Cucumbers, Squash, Zucchini, Winter Squash, Pumpkins, Cantaloupe, Watermelons

Crop rotation1
Crop Rotation

  • Solanaceous (Nightshade Family)

    • Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant, Potatoes

  • Legumes(Pea Family)

    • Garden peas, peanuts, green beans, lima beans, southern peas

  • Alliums (Onion Family)

    • Onions, garlic, leeks, scallions

Growing vegetables
Growing Vegetables

  • Nutrition and Fertilization

  • Watering

  • Pest Management

Growing vegetables nutrients
Growing Vegetables: Nutrients

  • Always start with soil sampling!

  • Base rates on soil test results and recommendations for crop

  • Terms:

    • Preplant – incorporated into soil before planting

    • Sidedress – applied to surface of soil after crops planted

Growing vegetables nutrients1
Growing Vegetables: Nutrients

  • Most vegetables grow best at a pH of 6.0 to 6.5

  • IF pH is lower than 6.0, Lime should be tilled into the soil

    • Dolomitic lime supplies Calcium and Magnesium, and raises pH

    • Blossom End Rot: melons, peppers, tomatoes = low calcium

Growing vegetables nutrients2
Growing Vegetables: Nutrients

  • Fertilizers are usually needed to supply some of the nutrients plants need

  • Both organic and synthetic fertilizers are available

  • Synthetic fertilizers usually have higher concentrations of nutrients

  • Organic fertilizers are better for the soil (encourage microorganisms)

Growing vegetables nutrients3
Growing Vegetables:Nutrients

  • Slow release fertilizers

    • Release nutrients over an extended period of time

    • Work great but are more expensive

    • Highly recommended in sandy soils

    • Coated fertilizers like Osmocote and organic fertilizers

  • Soluble Fertilizers

    • Applied as granules but dissolve readily in water

    • 10-10-10

  • Liquid Fertilizers

    • e.g. Manure Tea, Fish Emulsion, Miracle Grow

    • Only provide a quick feed, only good for a fast boost

Growing vegetables nutrients4
Growing Vegetables: Nutrients

  • For both organic and synthetic fertilizers, analysis (nutrient content) must be stated on bag.

  • E.g. 32-10-10

  • Numbers are percentages (32%)

  • Always represent Nitrogen, Phophorus and Potassium, always in that order

Compost and fertilizing
Compost andFertilizing

  • Compost = provides some nutrients but usually does not meet crop needs

  • Compost = soil amendment (organic matter), helps soil hold water and nutrients and improves soil condition, but should not be considered fertilizer!

Growing vegetables water
Growing Vegetables: Water

  • Most vegetables require ~ 1” water per week from rain or irrigation

    • Keep top 1’ of soil consistently moist

  • Soaker hoses work well

    • Do not wet foliage = Reduces disease problems

    • Less water lost through evaporation

    • Place close to base of plants

  • Mulch will help conserve moisture

Mulching vegetable gardens
Mulching Vegetable Gardens

  • Beneficial!

  • Any biodegradable matter, 2”-4”

    • Grass clippings (aged): No Herbicides!

    • Newspaper

    • Straw

  • Till in at end of season

Growing vegetables managing pests
Growing Vegetables: Managing Pests

  • Insects

  • Diseases

  • Weeds

Managing insects and diseases
Managing Insects and Diseases

  • If you plant it, they will come!!!

  • Scout regularly to find problems before they become established

  • Have problems properly identified before treating

Cabbage Looper

Managing insects and diseases1
Managing Insects and Diseases

  • Prevent pests through:

    • Crop Rotation

    • Sanitation = clean up crop debris at end of season, cull pest ridden plants asap

    • Good soil preparation = healthier plants!

    • Proper nutrition = too little or too much will increase problems

    • Proper watering = prevent stress

    • Plant at correct times

Disease management
Disease Management

  • Choose disease resistant varieties whenever possible!

  • Avoid overhead watering – keeps leaves wet

  • Space plants properly for better air circulation

  • If have soil born disease problems – grow in containers

  • Re: Rotate crops!!, Prepare soil!!

Powdery Mildew

Floating row cover
Floating Row Cover

  • Thin, light, spun-bonded synthetic fiber used for frost protection and as a barrier to keep out insects

  • Remay is a common brand

  • Must take off for pollination!!!

Weed management
Weed Management

  • Weeds harbor pests and steal water and nutrients!

  • Control methods:

    • Mulch!

    • Cultivation (hoeing), hand weeding

    • Herbicides

Cool season vegetables1
Cool Season Vegetables

  • Prefer to grow during cooler times of the year: Fall and Spring

  • Tolerate some level of frost

    • Half-hardy: tolerate light frost, usually productive through December

    • Hardy: tolerate heavy frost, can produce through winter

Cool season vegetables2
Cool Season Vegetables

  • Harvesting of half hardy crops can be extended by covering with floating row cover for 2 to 4 of frost protection

  • Doubling the cover increases frost protection

  • Can be placed over top of crop or used to cover low tunnels

Fast maturing half hardy crops for spring and fall
Fast Maturing, Half Hardy Crops for Spring and Fall

Successive sowings for continuous harvest:

  • Radish – 30 days

  • Mustard – 30 days

  • Lettuce (leaf) and mesclun – 30-50 days

  • Spinach – 50-60 days (hardy)

  • Green Onions (Scallions) – 30 days


  • Mature in 25 – 30 days, sow Sept. 1 through Nov. 1, and Feb. 1 – April 1

  • Hot temps, water stress can cause strong flavor and woody texture

  • Harvest when 1” in diameter

  • Daikon: long white radish, mild flavor

    • Grow like radish but takes longer to mature


  • Only moderately frost tolerant – extend harvest by using row cover in winter

  • Seed need light to germinate – pelleted/primed seed are easier to grow

  • Likes constant supply of Nitrogen and soils with good organic matter content

  • Grows well in containers

  • If bitter, store in refrigerator a few days

Leaf lettuce
Leaf Lettuce

  • Mature in 30-50 days, sow late Aug. – mid Sept. and Feb - March

  • Do not form dense heads

  • Easiest – seed mixes available

  • Many color variations, leaf shapes

  • Can plant in rows or ‘patch’

  • Make successive sowings every 2 weeks for extended harvest

Head lettuce
Head Lettuce

  • Romaine/Cos and Butterhead/Bibb do well

  • Romaine mature in 50-60 days, sow late August and Feb

  • Bibb types mature in 40-50 days, sow late August

  • Iceberg is finicky in our area

Other salad greens
Other Salad Greens

  • Arugula/Roquette

    • Matures in 50 days, sow direct in garden late Aug – late Sept., Feb - April

    • Pungent, spicy taste

  • Mesclun Mixes

    • Seed mixes of several types of salad greens, may include lettuce

      • Grow in patches like leaf lettuce

Mustard and turnip greens
Mustard and Turnip Greens

  • Mature in 35-50 days, sow direct in patches late August – mid Oct., Feb - March

  • Sow new patch every couple of weeks for extended harvest

  • Can be grown mixed together or separate

  • Some turnip varieties only produce greens – no roots

Mustard leaves have curly edges

Turnip greens are slightly prickly


  • Matures 30-40 days, sow mid Sept through early Nov., Feb - March

  • Very cold hardy

  • Need fresh seed

  • Grow in rows or 12” wide beds – sow new rows every couple of weeks

Half hardy crops for spring and fall brassicas
Half Hardy Crops for Spring and Fall: Brassicas

  • Broccoli – 70 – 80 days

  • Cauliflower (better in Fall) – 60 days

  • Turnips – 60 days for roots

  • Kohlrabi – 60 days

  • Look out for looperson all Brassicas

    • DiPel (B.t.) = natural disease that only kills caterpillars


  • Matures in 50-70 days, start seed in early August, set out homegrown or purchased transplants mid August – mid September

  • Half hardy – harvest through Dec.

  • Heavy feeder – needs consistent nitrogen

  • Plant in rows, every 2 weeks

  • After harvest main head, side shoots will develop


  • Matures in 55-65 days, start seed in early August, set out homegrown or purchased transplants late Aug – mid Sept.

  • Fall is the best time to grow cauliflower! Heads are frost sensitive

  • Stress will cause ‘buttoning’

  • Remove after harvesting

Rutabaga and kohlrabi
Rutabaga and Kohlrabi

  • Rutabaga: Mature in 90 days, sow in early to late August

    • Harvest when size of a softball

  • Kohlrabi: Mature in 45 days, sow mid August through mid Oct.

    • Edible part is swollen stem above soil level

Turnips roots
Turnips Roots

  • Mature in 40-50 days, sow late Aug. through mid Oct.

  • Harvest when size of tennis ball

  • Can also harvest greens – over harvest of greens reduces root size

Long season hardy brassicas
Long Season, Hardy Brassicas

Plant late summer, stand through winter

  • Brussel Sprouts – 100 days

  • Collards – 100 days

  • Kale - 50 days

    • Can have separate spring and fall crops

  • Cabbage – 70 – 80 days

    • Can have separate spring and fall crops


  • Mature in 65-90 days, sow in early Aug. or set out transplants in late Aug. – early Sept. Spring crop set out Feb – early March

  • Consistent moisture and nutrients results in high quality heads

  • Most varieties very hardy, can stay in garden through winter

  • Chinese cabbage do well in fall – less frost hardy

Collards and kale
Collards and Kale

  • Mature in 55-75 days, sow in early Aug. or set out transplants in early Sept. – early Oct. Spring crop set out mid Feb - March

  • Plant in rows, every few weeks

  • Very cold hardy will produce through winter

Brussel sprouts
Brussel Sprouts

  • Mature in 85-110 days, sow seed in early-mid Aug., plant homegrown or purchased transplants in early – mid Sept.

  • Harvest in spring

  • Very cold hardy

Brassica problems caterpillars
Brassica Problems:Caterpillars

  • Many are small and green! Be on the lookout!

  • All become moths

  • Organic Control

    • B.t. (Bacillus thuringiensis)= natural bacterial disease that only kills caterpillars

      • Dipel, Worm Whipper

    • Spinosad – another bacterial disease

      • Several brands

    • Neem and Pyrellin – plant based

  • Chemical pesticides: Sevin (carbaryl), esfenvalerate, malathion

Half hardy for spring and fall crops carrots
Half Hardy for Spring and Fall Crops: Carrots

  • Mature in 60-90 days, can leave fall crops in ground through winter

    • Best in well amended, sandy soils

    • Sow in place, slow to germinate

      • August for fall crops

      • Feb/March for spring crops

      • Sow shallow, keep moist

      • Pelleted seed are easier

    • Shorter varieties easier

Half hardy for fall and spring swiss chard
Half Hardy for Fall and Spring: Swiss Chard

  • Mature in 30 days, but can stay in garden all winter

  • Sow seed in late August or plant transplants in Oct.

  • Can have second spring crop, sow/plant in March

  • Harvest by picking leaves

  • Varieties with colorful mid ribs available

Half hardy for fall and spring beets
Half Hardy for Fall and Spring: Beets

  • Mature in 45 – 55 days, sow early – late August for fall, mid Feb – mid March for spring crops

  • Can also harvest greens

Cool season vegetables onions and their relatives
Cool Season Vegetables: Onions and Their Relatives

  • Onions, Garlic, Leeks

  • Do best in our area when fall planted!

  • Harvested in spring

  • Heavy feeders – like lots of organic matter and consistent moisture and nutrients

  • Need good drainage


Onion Sets

  • Sow seed directly into garden from early to late October to harvest in April-May

    • Short Day varieties: ‘Grano’, ‘Granex’, ‘Texas Super Sweet’

    • Seed are usually more successful and cost less than growing from sets

    • Thin in Jan to 4” apart for larger bulbs

    • Need lots of Nitrogen in spring, but no sulfur

Spring only crops
Spring Only Crops

  • Garden and Snap Peas

    • 60 days

    • Sow lt. Jan - early Feb.

    • Powdery Mildew a problem on later crops

    • Vine support, grow 3’-4’

  • Potatoes– 90 – 120 days

    • Start with certified seed potatoes, Feb.

    • Mound soil around plants through the growing season for more production

Growing potatoes
Growing Potatoes

  • Mound soil – all potatoes develop between ‘seed’ and soil level

Warm season crops

Warm Season Crops

From last frost until first frost

Warm season crops1
Warm Season Crops

  • Cannot tolerate frost

  • Need warm (70’s – 80’s) temps to grow well, and warm soil temperatures

  • Soil warms up slower than air

  • Hot temperatures will reduce production (mid 90’s and above)

  • Will usually see drop in production after a heat wave

Cucurbit problems
Cucurbit Problems

  • Downy Mildew – cucumbers

    • Effects pickling cucumbers worse

    • Late crops often wiped out – very prevalent by mid summer

    • No way for homeowners to treat

Cucurbit problems1
Cucurbit Problems

  • Squash Vine Borer – squash and zucchini

  • Plant as early as possible

  • Rotate!!!

  • Cover plants with row cover when adults active

Sweet corn
Sweet Corn


  • Plant April – May

  • Need lots of space

  • In blocks of at least 3-4 rows

    • Wind pollinated

    • Each silk = kernel

  • Lots of Nitrogen (slow release)

  • Stagger plantings every 2 weeks


Sweet corn1
Sweet Corn

  • Sugary Varieties (SU1)

    • Traditional – sugars break down quickly

    • Silver Queen, Seneca Chief

  • Sugary Enhanced (Se)

    • Higher levels of sugar

    • Bodacious, Legend

  • Super-sweet Varieties (sh2)

    • More sugar than SU1 and does not break down rapidly

    • Serendipity


  • Beans - Lima, Butter, Green

    • Inoculate seed with nitrogen fixing bacteria

    • Butter/Lima beans don’t produce in hot weather

    • Bush and pole varieties

  • Southern Peas

    • Field Peas, Black Eye Peas

    • Need warm soils

  • Peanuts

Peanut Plant


  • Disease problems are challenging

  • Disease resistance

    • V - Verticillium

    • F - Fusarium

    • N - Nematodes

    • TSW – Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus

  • Many foliar diseases

    • Follow good cultural practices – fungicides may be necessary, especially by mid-late summer

  • Other diseases are soil born – live in soil

    • Rotate crops

    • Consider growing in large containers


  • Determinate – mature crop all at once

  • Indeterminate – successive crops

  • Large Fruited

    • ‘Better Boy’ – V,F,N, indeterminate

    • ‘Celebrity’ – V,F,N

  • Paste Tomatoes (Roma or Pear)

    • For cooking and canning

  • Cherry Tomatoes

    • Easiest!, most are indeterminate

    • Best type for beginners!


  • Heirlooms

    • Flavor but no disease resistance

    • Open pollinated

    • ‘German Johnson’ ‘Cherokee Purple’

    • ‘Mr. Stripey’

Eggplant and peppers
Eggplant and Peppers

  • Bell Peppers and Hot Peppers

    • Generally easy

    • Hot peppers have good drought resistance

    • Very productive when fertilized

  • Eggplant

    • Wait to plant when really warm

    • Fall crops do well, plant mid summer

Sweet potatoes
Sweet Potatoes

  • Need lots of space

  • Buy certified slips (cuttings)

    • Keep watered first few days

  • Mulch well

  • ‘Beauregard’, ‘Jewell’, ‘Puerto Rico’

  • Cure to increase sugar content

    • Harvest (don’t wash), store in garage or shed (80°) with damp burlap over top

  • Deer love sweet potato vines!


  • Wait till really warm to plant

  • Nematodes common problem

    • Rotate crops

    • Incorporate organic matter

  • Tall plants with spines, related to cotton

Root Knot Nematodes


  • Wait until really warm to plant

  • N-P-K important

  • Cantaloupe

    • Prefer drier conditions

  • Watermelons

    • Consistent moisture

    • Seedless varieties are more finicky

    • ‘Crimson Sweet’, ‘Jubilee’ - reliable

Winter squash pumpkins and gourds
Winter Squash, Pumpkins and Gourds

  • Heavy Feeders

  • Start early to avoid vine borer

    • But soil needs to be warm

  • Gourds (ornamental) are easiest

  • Pumpkin and winter squash often require fungicide sprays to control foliar diseases

Perennial crops
Perennial Crops


  • Need soil high in organic matter

  • Mulch with compost

  • Plant crowns in early spring

  • Wait 1 year to harvest

  • Keep moist, afternoon shade okay

  • Harvest spears in spring

  • Male varieties more productive