Intensive planting is a technique for reducing vacant spaces in the garden where weeds can find room to grow. Planting seedlings closer together means the plants themselves act like mulch over the soil, keeping them cool and reducing evaporation.
Plants that perform well when planted densely include vegetables such as arugula, mustard greens, lettuce, and spinach. Our food expert Niki Jabbour grows her vegetables in small rows or strips. And she only grows a little at a time to reduce food waste - you don't need to prepare 100 heads of lettuce at once!
Raised Garden Bed Continuous Planting
This brings us to continuous planting. If you're pulling out your spring crops like peas and root vegetables, or harvesting garlic in the summer, there's no reason you can't add more vegetables to that empty space. You may want to give seeds a good start under your grow lights. When planting, remember the composting tip: Amend the soil to add some nutrients and encourage a good harvest. Good soil health is the key to a thriving garden.
Add plant stands so you have room for more plants
When planting raised garden beds, be sure to give some of your plants something to climb on—a trellis, an old trellis, cow boards, etc. If you've ever planted a pumpkin seedling in a raised bed, you know that as it grows, the plant will take up more than half, if not the entire garden! Adding vertical structures will support climbers such as cucumbers, squash, beans, peas and melons.
Growing vegetables and flowers in raised beds
There are many mutual benefits to growing food in your ornamental garden and vice versa. I like to grow flowers like zinnias, nasturtiums and cosmos in my raised garden beds. They attract pollinators who in turn pollinate my tomato, squash and cucumber flowers (a win-win!). Hummingbirds often fly around me on a summer day when I'm in the garden, looking to land on my zinnias. Multiply a few flowers so you can save some for pollinators, then snip off the rest and put your summer bouquet in a vase.
You can also use flowers as a natural pest control measure when planting raised garden beds. Some of my plantings are based on pests that have invaded my garden in previous seasons, and others as a preventative measure.
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