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How to Plant a Raised Bed Vegetable Garden with High Yield

The tricks and secrets to building, planting, and growing a high yield raised bed vegetable garden. A master gardener shares his best tips.

Nope. You’re not lost. I am, in fact, sharing a post about gardening. Is this the Twilight Zone? I think it might be.

I’ve mentioned my continuous plight before- the curse of the black thumb. (That sounds like a movie Johnny Depp could star in. Oh, wait…)

The tricks and secrets for how to plant a raised bed vegetable garden with high yield. A master gardener shares his best tips.

Six years ago, I shared this post about our cheap DIY raised garden beds in the backyard of our old house because my dad, Hank, is the KING of high yield raised bed gardening.

man standing next to a a 12 feet tall raised bed vegetable garden

Somehow, that skipped a generation with me. But anyways…

Since visiting my parents’ house so many times this summer, I realized his tutorial sharing all of his raised bed gardening secrets definitely needed another moment in the spotlight for any of you who have ever wanted to learn how to plant your own thriving vegetable garden. 

So that even those among the most “black thumbest” (that’s totally a word) can grow a gorgeous vegetable garden

My dad helped me write this tutorial back in summer of 2016, and all these years later, his expertise is still paying off.

little girl planting basil in a raised bed vegetable garden

Starting a vegetable garden and harvesting vegetables is one of Olivia and Regan’s favorite things to do at “Grandmama and Grandaddy’s” house all these years later.

(I can’t get over that the sweet baby face Olivia in this above photo is now my 9 year-old Olivia harvesting potatoes with him today.)

little girl harvesting potatoes from a backyard raised bed vegetable garden

Why Raised Bed Vegetable Gardening?

The benefit of raised bed gardening versus planting directly into your yard’s soil is having more control over the health of your gardening soil to grow crops for your family. Raised beds help plant roots grow deeper and wider, and soil can be enriched with compost.

Structures can be built in a variety of sizes and shapes to best suit your backyard and can be made of concrete, rock, or wood.

a high yield raised bed vegetable garden in a backyard with large plants

How to Plant a Raised Bed Organic Vegetable Garden

These are the steps we used on the raised bed in our last house, and they’ve more than proven themselves over the years!

This method is completely organic so that you can produce the healthiest vegetables with the highest yield possible. It’s best to build this type of garden in early spring for growing vegetables through summer and into fall.

Choosing the Right Garden Space Location and Size

Walk around your backyard and pay attention to where the sunlight hits it at various times of the day. Plan to place your raised bed where it will receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight.

Choose a level surface if possible, or plan to grade the area to become level. Avoid planting near trees so plants won’t be competing with tree roots for growth.

Vegetable Garden Supplies Needed

stacks of vegetable gardening soil, peat moss, vermiculite, and compost bags

Best Vegetable Plants for Beginners

Best Vegetable Plants for Intermediate Gardeners

Tip: Planting marigolds around your garden can help keep deer, rabbits, and plant-destroying insects away.

Oh, and maybe coercing a couple of strapping guys would be helpful if you happen to have them on hand somewhere. 😉 But that’s optional.

Step 1 – Plan Your Vegetable Garden Raised Bed Size and Cut Boards

(Optional: If you’re not into braving power tools, Lowe’s can usually do the wood cutting for you.)

For the frame of the raised bed, cut two boards to 2 4′ lengths and 2 8′ lengths and lay them on the ground where you’d like to position the raised bed.

It’s best to build raised beds between 3-4′ width so that plants are within arm’s reach from the sides for tending.

pine boards in a backyard laid out for building a raised bed vegetable garden frame

Step 2 – Place Cardboard Base and Attach Boards

This is a great cheap DIY raised garden bed trick! Place sheets of old cardboard underneath the boards and attach the boards together at the corners with decking screws using your power drill. No need to buy landscaping fabric; just recycle the cardboard you have from old boxes. Cardboard is naturally rot resistant.

screwing boards together for building a raised bed vegetable garden frame

And your box should end up looking something like this. The cardboard will break down over time, but it acts as a barrier to keep the weeds out.

laying cardboard in the base of a raised bed vegetable garden frame

Step 3 – Mix Soil, Compost, Vermiculite, and Peat Moss

Then for the soil, pour all of the different types of compost, vermiculite, and peat moss onto the tarp and mix it thoroughly. Y

ou can use the tarp as a tool to mix all of it together rather than a shovel by folding the corners of the tarp in and out and dumping it in the box. Be sure to work in batches.

mixing soil, peat moss, vermiculite, and compost together for building a raised bed vegetable garden frame

Step 4 – Till Soil Mixture

When all of the bags are mixed into the box, till it thoroughly for even better distribution.

tilling soil mixture for preparing a raised bed vegetable garden frame

Step 5 – Plan Your Plant Placement

Then, decide on the placement of your plants.

We decided on Early Girl tomatoes, Celebrity tomatoes, Grape Cherry tomatoes, basil, zucchini, summer squash, Hot Golden Cayenne peppers, Sweet Banana peppers, and Mammoth jalapenos.

planning plant placements for preparing a raised bed vegetable garden frame

Step 6 – Dig Holes and Pour in Lime Powder

Dig the holes for your plants and pour the lime powder into them.

pouring lime powder into plant holes before planting

Step 7 – Plant Your Plants

Recruit little hands as needed for planting. 😉 Just be sure those little hands are placing the root ball of the plant into the hole.

little girl planting basil in a backyard garden

Olivia absolutely loved getting her hands in that dirt with Robert…

little girl and father planting basil in a backyard garden

…and her super awesome gardener grandaddy who is way better at showing her the ropes than I am when it comes to the outdoors.

little girl, father, and grandfather planting vegetable plants

Step 8 – Plant Marigolds for Parasite Prevention

To help repel aphids and other parasites from our garden, we placed marigolds between the plants.

We planted basil in between our tomato plants too to repel bugs and provide extra nutrients that the tomatoes need.

If needed, add tomato cages, which you can find at most hardware stores.

Step 9 – Water Thoroughly and Frequently

Once everything was planted, we watered it well. And then we sang to our little plants and whispered sweet nothings to our new garden. (Or at least Olivia did.)

a newly built raised bed vegetable garden in a backyard

It’s best to water your raised bed vegetable garden in the mornings 3-4 times per week (about an inch of water total per week, whether from rain or irrigation).

a newly built raised bed vegetable garden in a backyard with basil, tomatoes, peppers, mint, summer squash, and zucchini
little girl and grandfather harvesting potatoes from a raised bed garden

So there you go. I’m over here just trying to keep my kids fed and alive while my dad has basically become a farmer (and my mom channels Paula Deen with all of the produce he grows in their kitchen). Haha!

I really am in awe of how much his hard work has produced.

high yield raised bed vegetable garden in a backyard

Have you ever planted a raised bed garden or vegetable garden? Or are you a plant murderer like me?

In any case, I hope this helps.

high yield raised bed vegetable garden in a backyard

Meanwhile, I’ll just be over here sneaking summer tomatoes out of my parents’ garden and telling them the deer did it. Kidding. 😆

Have you planted anything in an above ground garden lately that you’re excited about yet or working on building a raised garden? Or do you have any gardening tips you’d be willing to share? We’re all ears here!

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  1. Iโ€™m not putting off a vegetable and herb garden this year. Hope my seeds are still good. I am definitely going to try the compost. Great information thank you. Rhonda

    1. Rhonda
      I recently saw are article about someone growing a plant from the seeds of some extinct plant from ages ago.

  2. I always wanted to have a garden at home. I do have actually but it’s a flower garden and I asked help from a professional to push it through. Now, I have an idea now about vegetable garden and I think it’s healthier for the house and for me to have it at home. I am convinced to have one and I’m very much excited already.

  3. Is there another compost you could use other than Black Kow? I have not seen that here. We do have the mushroom.

    1. You can really use any types of compost you wish. My dad (who is the gardening pro and I learned all of this from) said as long as you mix 5 different types of compost together along with the vermiculite and peat moss, it should do well. I meant to go back and add that into the post actually. Hope that helps!

  4. My dad’s a master gardener as well and I totally feel like I have a black thumb. I’m always jealous of their glorious veggie gardens every summer. Sadly we don’t have a backyard since we are in a townhome. I am trying to think of how I can either use some porch space or maybe try and squeeze a tiny garden near the side of our house. I hope you have a beautiful crop this summer!! Home grown is the best ๐Ÿ™‚

    >> Christene Holder

    1. Maybe it skips a generation. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Haha! Maybe you could do a little 4×4 garden. Those big barrel planters could probably act as a makeshift garden too.

    2. My son gardens on his patio by using five-gallon buckets. He has rosemary, basil, tomatoes, and mint.

    3. Can your dad explain the purpose for putting lime in the hole before planting? And also how much lime per hole? Thanks!

    1. Yes! Add in some fresh mozzarella and ohhhh man. Yum yum yum. I need to stop thinking about it because I’m getting a big craving right now. ๐Ÿ˜‰