When planting a raised bed, it always depends on the type of use. A vegetable bed follows different laws than a pure flower bed. What must always be considered, however, is that the nutrient levels in the raised bed are initially very high. Not all plants like it the same way. Therefore, a precise planting sequence must be observed. However, this follows simple rules, which in principle also apply to every flat vegetable bed in the garden.
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How a raised bed works
Raised frame constructions that can be easily tended to while standing are becoming more and more common in gardens in addition to the conventional beds in the garden. These so-called raised beds differ significantly from normal earth beds. Not only because of their height, but also because of their internal structure. While the gardener is dependent on the composition and quality of the soil in the garden with flat beds, a raised bed makes it possible to create the best conditions for the plants.A raised bed works in a similar way to a compost heap. The rotting of the organic components inside produces not only valuable humus but also heat. The temperatures in the raised bed are up to five degrees higher than in an earth bed. Especially at the beginning of the vegetation period, the higher temperatures significantly promote the growth of the plants, so that the harvest time is shifted positively. In addition, because of the optimized soil conditions, about two to three times as high yields can be expected.
Important components for filling
If there is the possibility of freely choosing the location of the raised bed, a southern orientation is advantageous. The wide side points to the east and west. Once the construction has been set up, the raised bed can be filled. Most of the materials that are needed are waste in the garden and do not incur large costs. A raised bed always consists of the following components:
- Sod, lawn clippings, straw
- tree pruning
- potting soil
The quantities of the individual materials for creating a raised bed are often underestimated. It is therefore advisable to collect the tree cuttings, garden waste and compost that accumulate over the year in good time for filling. Autumn is therefore particularly suitable for creating a new raised bed (September to November).
The right layering
Not only are the components of a raised bed crucial, but layering also makes a good bed.
- If the raised bed is set up on a lawn, it is best to dig out the turf within the bed in square pieces and set them aside for the time being.
- The soil of the raised bed should be roughly loosened with a digging fork before filling.
- To prevent voles from getting inside, place a fine-meshed wire mesh (rabbit mesh) on the base. The grid should be slightly larger than the base of the raised bed. It is cut at the corners with the pliers and folded up on the sides. The side parts of the grid should at least reach the side walls of the bed. It is better to line the entire raised bed from the inside with the rabbit fence. So no rodents can enter from the side. A raised bed must never be closed at the bottom. If it is installed on a solid surface, such as concrete, asphalt or stone slabs, the moisture cannot drain off well and waterlogging occurs. It is also important that microorganisms and earthworms can get from the soil into the soil, to start the decomposition of the materials. This is the only way to form the humus that is so important for a raised bed.
- If the garden soil is very damp or compacted, it makes sense to first fill in a drainage layer of about 10 centimeters of gravel or clay. A plant fleece can protect the soil from being washed into the drainage when watering. With normal garden soil, no drainage is necessary.
- First, the substructure for the raised bed is filled in. It consists of a thick layer (at least 20 centimeters) of coarse chopped material. Suitable materials are: shredded tree bark and chopped branches. The lower layer of chopped material must be permeable to air, but it must not enclose really large air spaces. Therefore, no whole shoots or even branches should be thrown in without being chopped up. In this case, the soil in the raised bed would collapse after a short time as the branches decomposed. If the layer is very loose, compact by treading down.
- If a piece of turf has been laid aside, it can now be placed flat on the lower layer with the root side facing up. Alternatively, you can also use the following materials: straw, grass clippings (mixed with straw or garden waste), fine hedge clippings, small animal bedding and green waste.
- Next comes a 30 cm thick layer of damp leaves. Since most of the layering material comes in the fall, it’s a good time to fill the raised bed at this time. If you are already planning a raised bed for the coming spring in autumn, you should stack the materials in separate piles (tree cuttings and leaves) if they accumulate in your own garden. These can then be used in the spring.
- The penultimate layer consists of about 10-15 centimeters of coarse compost. Alternatively, normal garden soil can also be used. However, it is then necessary to boost decomposition in order to increase the nutrient content: 50g horn shavings per square meter, alternatively 100g calcium cyanamide per square meter, alternatively half-rotted manure
- The finish is a thick layer of 15-25 centimeters of nutrient-rich, fine-grained material. It is advisable to use good quality soil for the last layer of soil. Fine compost, classic flower or green plant soil, vegetable soil.
It is normal for the soil level of the raised bed to drop a little in the first year. It is sufficient to fill up with some fresh soil or fine compost before the next planting.
Plant raised bed
A freshly created raised bed is characterized by a particularly high nutrient content. Therefore, plants that have a high nutrient requirement should be grown in the first two years. As in normal soil beds, crop rotation is important when growing vegetables. The raised bed may only be equipped with weakly consuming plants from the third year. Otherwise there is a risk that too much nitrate will accumulate in the plants intended for consumption.
Planting seeds at the right time is important for a good harvest. If the weather permits, the first seeds can be planted in February. However, this should never be done when the soil is still too cold (frozen) or too wet. If the raised bed has a lid (or fleece as a cover) you can use it like a cold frame. The actual planting then begins after the ice rushes in mid-May and can then be used after the harvest for the next generation until over the winter.
1st year: In contrast to the flower bed, creating a vegetable bed takes a little more planning. Because of the initially high nutrient content, it is the turn of the so-called heavy feeders among the vegetable plants in the first year. These include:
- zucchini (needs a lot of space)
- leeks and onions
In addition, care should also be taken in a raised bed that the nutrients are not withdrawn one-sidedly. With a single culture there is also an increased risk of infection and pest infestation. Therefore, a mixed culture is ideal. In this way, the plants can complement each other. Plants not only take nutrients from the soil, they also release different substances back into the soil through their roots. It is thus possible for plants to either limit or protect each other through excretions from the plant parts above ground (scent) and also their root excretions. Only the right neighbors ensure a good and rich harvest.
The vegetables in the raised bed can be cultivated well into the winter. Savoy cabbage, Brussels sprouts, leeks or kale can be harvested until after the turn of the year. A cover in the form of a hinged lid, a layer of fleece or an old blanket protects the vegetables from frost.
2nd year: In the second year, heavy feeders can be used together with medium feeders.
3rd year: From the third year, medium and weak consumers are suitable for cultivation.
4th and 5th year: Since the nutrient levels have now fallen sharply, but can still provide a sufficient amount without fertilization, weakly consuming plants are ideal.
6th year: Refill the raised bed and start over in the planting sequence.
These vegetables go well together
Planting the raised bed without a cover begins in mid-May. If there is a cover in the form of a lid, tarpaulin or fleece, vegetables that are not sensitive to the cold can be planted. The following applies to planting: place taller-growing varieties in the middle of the bed, low-growing varieties at the edge. Favorable combinations are:
Heavily consuming vegetables:
- Cabbage: with bush beans, fennel, cucumber, spinach, tomatoes, onions
- Carrots: with leeks, onions, tomatoes, peas, garlic
- Cucumbers : with garlic, cabbage, celery, onions and dill
- Peas: with fennel, carrots, radishes, radish, celery
- Tomatoes: with carrots, cabbage, garlic, radishes (from the 2nd year with spinach, salad)
- Strawberries: with garlic, cabbage, leeks, onions
- Zucchini: with beans, beetroot and onions
Medium-consuming plants (do not use at the beginning, these plants store nitrate):
- Salad: with strawberries, fennel, cucumber, cabbage, beans, leeks, tomatoes
- Spinach: Kale, Chinese cabbage, kohlrabi, radishes
- Onions: Strawberries, cucumbers, carrots, lettuce, cabbage and beans
- Radish: Onions and radishes
- Potatoes: Kohlrabi, peas, spinach, coriander and cumin
- Endives: cabbage, leeks, beans, carrots
- Fennel: endive, peas, cucumber, lettuce
- Garlic: strawberries, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes
Weakly consuming vegetables:
- Brussels sprouts: with leeks and celery
- Salads: borage, cabbage, kohlrabi, carrots, radishes, onions
- Cauliflower: Endive, Celery, Lettuce
- Savoy cabbage: leek, beetroot, celery, spinach, tomatoes
- Kohlrabi: beets, celery, spinach, onions, lettuce
- Radishes: peas, lettuce, chard, spinach
- Pole and French beans: kohlrabi, lettuce, radishes
That doesn’t add up
Plants of the same genus generally do not get along with each other. Therefore you should not put the following types of vegetables together in the bed:
- Cruciferous vegetables: cauliflower, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, radish, radish, Brussels sprouts, arugula, savoy cabbage
- Legumes: all types of beans, peas and lentils
- Umbelliferae: fennel, lovage, carrots, parsnips, parsley, celery
raised flower beds
A raised bed that is stocked with ornamental plants can visually enhance a garden and offers a very special charm. There is not quite as much to consider here as with a vegetable patch. But here, too, the rule applies: In the first year, only use plants that consume a lot. Plant medium feeders in the second and third year and weak feeders in the last two years.
Heavily consuming ornamental plants:
Medium-consuming ornamental plants:
Weakly consuming ornamental plants:
It is quite easy to fill a raised bed: coarse, non-rotting materials are first filled in thick layers. The further up you go, the finer and more humus the layers become. Almost all materials can be found as waste in the garden. In this way, the raised bed causes little or no costs and also ensures that garden waste is used sensibly. Since a raised bed contains a wealth of nutrients, when planting it is important to ensure that initially only heavily consuming vegetables or ornamental plants are used. This is particularly important for vegetables, as many varieties can store nitrates. Over the next five years, we gradually switch to medium and low-consuming plants, until the raised bed finally has to be refilled after about five years.