Each year I expand my vegetable garden just a little. I use raised beds which just can’t be beat for productivity in the backyard vegetable garden and so this year I’m planning on adding four more raised beds. These four raised beds may just be the last of the raised beds in the vegetable garden for the foreseeable future so I want to make sure that they are functional, productive, easy to work with, and look good with all the other raised beds.
Raised beds are not hard to make and can come in a variety of ways from a mound of soil that is raised in the center and slopes to the outside, to hay bales as edging, or to what I usually use: non-pressure treated lumber. Ceder wood is the best since it is rot resistant but I’ve been going on the cheap side with regular old pine. It rots in 2-3 years but that rotting material nourishes the soil and can eventually be replaced with something nicer like brick or cedar when more money is available.
The Raised Bed Plan/Layout:
The basic idea for this raised bed vegetable garden layout is to allow easy access to all the plants. By making the raised beds only 2 feet wide I can guarantee that I can reach anywhere in the bed. Typically I’ve been using 4 foot wide beds for my other layouts and sometimes it can be very difficult to reach the very center of the bed especially if you are not a very tall person (i.e. my kids or my wife ;)) Often the plants themselves can impede the gardener while trying to reach across to the far side of other vegetables. I’m all about making things as easy as possible! (even though frequently I end up making things more difficult) In the plan above I allowed a 2′ square for each tomato plant and allowed for some interplanting space in between.
Companion planting is a good way to maximize space and reduce possible insect and pest damage. One of my favorite companion planting combinations is basil and tomatoes which is what I have highlighted in the plan above. (I have a theory that if you would eat it together you can plant it together although I’m not sure if that holds true for all vegetables!) Another idea would be to substitute marigolds as they are said to help reduce damaging root-knot nematodes on tomato plants. A 2 foot square for tomatoes should work fine since the tomatoes will grow deep and be trellised in some way. The bed divides itself into five 2 foot sections which will provide some space for air to flow around the plants (important for preventing fungal diseases).
This year each of the new 10’x2′ raised beds will be used for tomatoes. I like to rotate my vegetables from location to location and since tomatoes have been in each of my beds over the course of the last two years I decided that the new beds is the best place for the tomatoes to go. The diseases remaining in the soil of the former tomato beds won’t effect other vegetable families and I can rotate the tomatoes back in after a couple years in other locations. Hopefully by then the soil diseases will be gone.