What size raised beds?

tampasteve(9)February 24, 2009

Hey folks, I've been getting tons of great information and advice since I joined, and want to thank everyone for that.

However, I have a question regarding the size of raised beds, that I haven't seen an answer to.

I am planning on around twenty beds so I can grow enough for the market (yes, I have a very big back yard.) I was going to keep all my beds a uniform 4ft x 8ft, and just turn some to where the long side was facing north so I could grow more than two tomato plants per bed.

But then I ask myself "how are you going to get to the tomatoes on the middle plants that are facing the middle of the bed?" I'd have to try and reach through the trellis netting.

Should I make those beds long and narrow, say 12ft x 3ft, or 12 x 2? Or should I just make a uniform row of 4x8 beds, and just plant two tomato plants on the north end of each bed? The second option would probably be more esthetically pleasing and help with succession planting, but having a bed of just tomatoes or just squash, etc may have it's own advantages.

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leearnold(z5 In.)

If it were me I would probably go with the unform sized beds. Plan your garden layout first, THEN worry about bed layout. You can always plant tomatoes on the south end of beds and shade loving items on the north side. Besides, with 4' of space, you have room to underplant the tomatoes with herbs, marigolds, onions, or other small sun lovers.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 5:59PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I like 3" wide as it lets you work from both sides of the bed comfortably. They can be as long as you want. If you figure 3 sq." per plant just compute the length in multiples of 3 plus an extra foot on each end.

Otherwise, if you are going to use "trellis netting" of sort let it determine the width. How do you plan to rig up this netting stuff?


    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 6:14PM
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jtcm05(Zone 6 CT)

2 plants per 4x8 bed? Are you serious? I fit ten plants (2 rows of 5) in a 4x12 bed comfortably WITH crw cages. You can easily fit six plants in those. If you make them 3 feet wide you cant fit 2 rows and 4 foot wide beds can easily be worked from both sides.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 6:23PM
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Dave, HD has 5'x 8' trellis netting for $3.89. It's soft, so it doesn't cut the vines when the wind blows them. I use 1/2" metal electrical conduit as a frame. I just drive two pieces of rebar into the ground, and slide the frame over that, then tie the netting to the frame.

Here's a photo of my winter garden, from mid-Decmeber. It's dark outside right now, but I'll try to remember and take a photo tomorrow so you can see the whole frame.

The boards to the side were used to hold down the plastic sheeting I put over the garden the night before when we had a freeze warning.

jtcm, I meant 2 plants on a 4' end. Sorry for the confusion. I want to be able to train at least some of each plant vertically.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 6:34PM
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jtcm05(Zone 6 CT)

ok then. 2 would fit fine then.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 7:47PM
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Oh, I forgot to ask: How deep should I make these beds, seeing as how there's nothing but fire ants going to penetrate this yard. The builder of this subdivision back in the 1990s just plopped sod on top of the hardpan here. The first bed (pictured above) is 8". Is that deep enough for tomatoes?

    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 9:23PM
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jtcm05(Zone 6 CT)

Not really for indeterminates. The deeper the better. I use a minimum of 10", preferably 12.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 7:22AM
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