7 Best Vegetables to Grow in Raised Beds + 3 You Probably Shouldn’t


Forget about all those other lists on the internet telling you what to plant in your raised beds because this is the only guide you’ll need. Raised beds are a game-changer for gardeners, offering the convenience of container gardening on a larger scale. Whether you have poor soil or limited space, raised beds come to the rescue.

neat raised bed garden with strawberries, herbs and squash plants

And guess what? You can make raised beds out of various materials. Don’t believe me? Well, you can use large cardboard boxes surrounded by chicken wire if you’re on a tight budget. If you want to go all out, you can find building plans to incorporate raised beds right into your patio. There was even a reader who used old bathtubs as raised beds. How genius is that?

However, let’s remember that while raised beds are trendy and solve many gardening issues, they aren’t necessary for everyone.

Raised bed gardens filled to the brim with lush green vegetables.

Raised beds have become so popular that some new gardeners think it’s the only way to garden. But before you spend a fortune on expensive wooden raised beds, take a step back and consider if you really need them.

Now that we’ve covered that, let’s move on to the exciting part – what can you actually grow in a raised bed?

The Best Vegetables for Raised Beds

1. Root Vegetables – Carrots, Beets, and Radishes, Oh My!

Carrot fronds growing out of a raised bed

Root vegetables thrive in raised beds, especially if you’ve struggled to grow them in the past. Carrots and radishes, in particular, can be finicky, but with raised beds, you can provide them with the perfect growing conditions. The bagged soil mix or compost used in raised beds eliminates the issues of rocks or compact soil. So go ahead and grow radishes, turnips, rutabagas, beets, and carrots in your raised beds. You won’t be disappointed!

2. Lettuce & Other Leafy Greens

New Swiss chard plants and tiny carrots growing out of a brick raised bed

Lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and kale are fantastic options for raised bed gardening. These leafy greens have a small footprint, allowing you to grow a bountiful harvest in a limited space. Plus, you can easily replace them with another crop once they’re done, maximizing your garden’s productivity. Don’t forget about bok choy, mustards, and other delicious Asian greens too. They are nutrient-packed and thrive in raised beds.

3. Cucumbers

A basket of cucumbers picked from a raised bed garden

Cucumbers love raised beds, especially the vining varieties. By providing a trellis for them to climb, you can save even more space in your bed. Simply plant the cucumbers close to the trellis and train them upwards. Not only does this method utilize vertical space, but it also makes it easier to find and harvest your cucumbers. So go ahead and enjoy delicious homegrown cucumbers from your raised bed.

4. Onions, Garlic, and Leeks

Pulling a large bulb of lettuce out of a raised bed between squash and corn

The allium family, including onions, garlic, and leeks, are perfect for raised beds. These compact crops can be planted wherever you find a spare inch in your beds. Forget about the traditional neat rows and squares. Get creative and tuck them in between other plants. Just remember to keep onions separate from beans, peas, asparagus, or sage.

5. Peas

Peas climbing a trellis

Remember that trellis we made for cucumbers? Well, it’s also perfect for growing peas in raised beds. Train the pea vines to climb the trellis, and you’ll save plenty of space in your bed. Peas are a versatile crop and can be grown in both spring and fall. So enjoy the sweetness of freshly harvested peas from your raised bed.

6. Beans

Beans growing next to a cinder block

Both climbing and bush beans thrive in raised beds. However, climbing beans require some support, such as a trellis. Bush beans, on the other hand, stay compact and are a great addition to your raised beds. Remember to stagger the planting to enjoy a continuous harvest of beans. And don’t be afraid to get creative with your planting. You don’t always have to stick to neat rows or boxes; maximize your space!

7. Eggplant and Peppers

Purple eggplant hanging over the edge of a raised bed

Eggplants and peppers, members of the nightshade family, thrive in raised beds due to their compact size. Another advantage is that raised beds warm up quicker than the ground, providing these warm-season crops with the ideal soil temperature for optimal growth. So enjoy homegrown eggplants and peppers from your raised beds and impress your neighbors with your garden skills.

Vegetables to Avoid in Raised Beds

1. Tomatoes

Bushy, overgrown tomatoes in a raised bed

Yes, you heard it right. Tomatoes may not be the best choice for raised beds. While many lists claim they’re perfect for raised beds, tomatoes actually take up considerable space. Even compact varieties can grow several feet tall and wide. Considering the limited space in raised beds, growing tomatoes can be a trade-off. However, if you’re determined to grow them, try using alternative methods like cloth grow bags or upside-down planters.

2. Zucchini & Other Squash

Yellow summer squash spilling over a raised bed

Squash, such as zucchini, can take over your raised bed. These sprawling plants require ample space to thrive and may shade out other crops in your bed. Instead, consider growing squash in containers or 5-gallon buckets, allowing you to control their growth and prevent them from dominating your raised beds.

3. Potatoes

Potatoes growing in a 5-gallon bucket

Although potatoes can be grown in raised beds, they’re not the ideal choice due to their space requirements. Shallow raised beds may not provide enough room for potatoes to grow properly. Instead, consider using grow bags or 5-gallon buckets. These containers allow you to move them around as needed and make harvesting a breeze.

The 700lb Pumpkin and More

A farmer using a skid steer to lift a massive pumpkin on a wood pallet

Lastly, as a reminder, you can grow almost anything in raised beds. It all depends on what works best for your gardening needs. However, keep in mind that some crops may be better suited for alternative methods, such as growing 700lb pumpkins in large fields instead of raised beds.

At the end of the day, gardening is about experimentation and finding what brings you joy. So go ahead, get your hands dirty, and create your dream raised bed garden. But remember to consider the space and needs of each vegetable before deciding what to grow.

For more raised bed reading, don’t forget to check out these helpful articles:

  • 10 Reasons To Start A Raised Bed Vegetable Garden
  • 14 Common Raised Bed Mistakes You Must Avoid
  • 45 Raised Bed Ideas For Your Garden
  • How To Fill A Raised Bed With Healthy Soil (& Save Money!)
  • 7 Productive Things To Do With An Empty Raised Bed In Fall & Winter

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