Raised beds are freestanding structures often made of wood or other materials that are built above the existing soil. They are ideal for gardeners who have poor soil that lacks proper nutrients or drainage or limited growing space, or for those with limited mobility (i.e., trouble or inability to kneel on the ground). Many new gardeners often ask which vegetables can be grown in a raised bed, and the answer is almost anything!
The location and the size of the raised bed will determine which vegetables will grow well in a raised gardening bed. With location, whether or not the raised bed has full sun or shade is important. For warm season vegetables (i.e., crops with a long growing season), a raised bed typically should see 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Tomatoes and cucumbers fare very well in full-sun raised beds if staked or trellised properly to allow upward rather than outward growth. If a raised bed is in a more shaded location, try planting cool season vegetables (i.e., vegetables that can bear with cool weather) that tolerate shade, such as lettuce or broccoli, instead.
Regarding the size of a raised bed, consider the amount of space that each plant needs so that you can space them out and maximize root and leaf growth. It is often suggested to plant seeds in a block formation (maintain equal space between neighboring plants in both directions) than in rows to increase yield. One should always consult the seed packaging before planting in a raised bed to determine if the raised bed will be a good fit. The seed packet will provide information such as the height and width of the plant and how and when to sow.
Other vegetables that can be planted in raised beds include beans, radishes, turnips, spinach, cauliflower, carrots, kohlrabi, kale, onions, and Swiss chard. It is best to not plant corn in a raised bed, as one will not be able to anchor it properly in the soil. Pumpkins and watermelons are also better suited for a more traditional garden, as they are large and sprawling and will take up too much space. Overall, with proper planning, raised bed gardening can be a great alternative to a traditional garden.