Raised Garden Bed: What Vegetables Are Best to Grow in Late Spring

Raised Garden Bed: What Vegetables Are Best to Grow in Late Spring

Creating a raised garden bed can transform your gardening experience, particularly in the late spring. As the frost recedes and the days grow longer, the soil in a raised garden bed warms quicker than its in-ground counterpart, presenting an excellent opportunity to grow a variety of vegetables. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the best vegetable options for your raised beds during this vibrant, growing season.

The Ideal Vegetables for Late Spring

As temperatures become milder, a diverse array of vegetables thrives in raised beds. Let's explore some top choices in detail:

Lettuce and Other Leafy Greens

Lettuce, spinach, and Swiss chard are ideal for late spring planting in raised garden beds. These leafy greens typically germinate within 5 to 14 days and can be harvested as early as 4 to 7 weeks after planting, depending on the variety and local climate conditions. The cooler temperatures of late spring prevent them from bolting (going to seed prematurely), which is crucial for maintaining their flavor and tender texture. Successive planting every two weeks can provide a steady supply. For continuous harvests, you can employ the "cut and come again" method, harvesting outer leaves while allowing the plant center to continue producing new growth.

Root Vegetables

Carrots, beets, and radishes thrive in the friable, nutrient-rich soil of raised beds. These root vegetables germinate in temperatures as low as 40°F (4°C), making them suitable for early spring planting.

Carrots take about 50 to 80 days to mature, depending on the variety, and are ready when their tops peek above the soil surface. Beets can mature in 50 to 70 days and are often harvested once they reach golf ball size, although they can be left to grow larger. Radishes are one of the fastest-growing vegetables, often ready to harvest within 25 to 30 days of planting. The key to growing these vegetables is ensuring the soil is loose enough to avoid any deformities in root development. Regular watering, especially as the roots near maturity, helps develop plump and sweet vegetables.

Root Vegetables


Peas prefer the cooler days of spring, with sugar snap and snow peas being particularly popular for their edible pods. These plants typically take about 60 to 70 days to mature. Early support with trellises or stakes is crucial, as peas tend to climb and can reach heights of 1 to 6 feet, depending on the variety. The vertical growth encouraged by trellises not only saves space but also promotes air circulation, which helps prevent fungal diseases. Peas are also beneficial for the soil as they fix nitrogen, which can reduce the need for chemical fertilizers.


The Brassica family, including broccoli, cauliflower, and kale, adapts well to garden beds, which provide the deep soil needed for their extensive root systems. Broccoli and cauliflower usually mature in about 60 to 80 days, whereas kale might take a bit less, around 50 to 70 days. These vegetables benefit from the excellent drainage of raised beds and require consistent moisture to develop their characteristic heads and leaves. Broccoli and cauliflower, in particular, need to be harvested before the flower buds open fully to ensure the best flavor and texture.

Onions and Garlic

Onions and garlic are excellent choices for interplanting in metal raised beds, using space efficiently, and deterring many common pests. Onions are generally ready for harvest in late summer or early fall, about 100 to 120 days after planting, depending on the variety. Garlic, planted in the previous fall, matures in the summer, approximately 240 days from planting. Both plants require little space and can be tucked in between slower-growing vegetables, maximizing your garden's productivity. The key to growing these alliums is avoiding overly wet conditions, which can lead to bulb rot.

Tips for Cultivating Success in Raised Beds


For galvanized raised beds, achieving the right soil composition is paramount. The ideal mix should contain about 60% topsoil, 30% compost, and 10% potting soil, which provides a balanced environment rich in nutrients and capable of retaining moisture yet well-draining. Regularly adding organic matter like compost or well-rotted manure not only enriches the nutrient profile but also enhances the soil's structure, promoting healthy root development. Test your soil annually to monitor nutrient levels and pH, adjusting as necessary to meet the specific needs of your plants.


Effective watering practices are crucial, particularly since raised beds are prone to quicker drying. The general recommendation is to provide at least 1 to 2 inches of water per week, but this can vary based on climate and soil conditions. Using a drip irrigation system can offer consistent moisture directly to the roots and reduce evaporation. During peak summer months, checking the soil moisture at least twice a week can prevent under- or over-watering. It's also beneficial to water early in the morning to reduce moisture loss and prevent fungal diseases.


Crop rotation is an effective strategy to maintain soil health and reduce the risk of pest infestations and diseases. Rotate crops in a three-year cycle to prevent pathogens and pests from becoming established. For example, after growing tomatoes in one section of your raised bed, consider planting root vegetables or legumes in the same area the following year. This practice helps balance nutrient demands and minimizes the buildup of soil-borne diseases.


Mulch plays a multi-functional role in raised garden beds. Organic mulches like straw, bark chips, or shredded leaves not only help retain soil moisture but also suppress weed growth, which can compete with your vegetables for nutrients and water. Applying a 2-3 inch layer of mulch after planting can also help to regulate soil temperature, keeping roots cool in summer and protected from cold in early spring or autumn. As mulch breaks down, it further enriches the soil with organic matter, fostering a vibrant, nutrient-rich environment conducive to plant growth.


Final Words

Raised garden beds offer a distinct advantage for cultivating vegetables, especially in the unpredictable weather of late spring. By choosing the right plants and providing them with the care they require, gardeners can enjoy a fruitful harvest. From the rapid growth of leafy greens to the satisfying crunch of fresh carrots, raised beds can accommodate a diverse, vibrant garden. As you prepare your garden this season, embrace the versatility and productivity that raised garden beds bring to the cultivation of these springtime favorites.


  1. What is the best way to determine the timing for planting vegetables in raised beds?

The best planting time depends on your specific climate zone. Generally, after the last frost date is a safe time to begin spring planting. You can consult a local gardening calendar or cooperative extension service to find the exact dates that are best suited for planting each type of vegetable in your area.

  1. How deep should my raised bed be for optimal growth of vegetables?

A depth of 12 to 18 inches is ideal for most vegetables. This depth allows ample room for the roots to grow and access the nutrients they need. Deep-rooted vegetables like carrots and parsnips may benefit from even deeper beds, up to 24 inches.

  1. Can I use any type of mulch in my raised garden bed?

Organic mulches are best for vegetable gardens because they enrich the soil as they decompose. Suitable types include straw, grass clippings, shredded leaves, and bark chips. Avoid using mulches like dyed wood chips or those made from non-organic materials, as they can leach unwanted chemicals into your soil.

  1. How often should I replace the soil in my raised bed?

While you don't need to replace all the soil every year, it is beneficial to refresh the top layer with new compost or organic matter annually. This helps replenish nutrients that have been depleted over the growing season. Every three to five years, consider replacing a significant portion of the soil to prevent disease buildup and nutrient depletion.

  1. What are some common pests in raised beds, and how can I control them?

Common pests include aphids, slugs, and cabbage worms. To control these, encourage beneficial insects like ladybugs or use barriers such as row covers. Avoid using chemical pesticides, especially close to harvest time. Physical removal, such as picking off pests by hand, is often effective for small infestations.

common pests in raised beds
  1. How can I maximize the yield from my raised garden bed?

Implement companion planting to maximize space and enhance plant health. For example, planting basil near tomatoes can help repel pests. Additionally, vertical gardening by adding trellises or stakes allows for growing upwards, which is ideal for plants like peas and beans, saving space and increasing yield.

  1. What should I do if my vegetables show signs of nutrient deficiency?

Signs of nutrient deficiency include yellowing leaves or stunted growth. Conduct a soil test to determine which nutrients are lacking. Based on the results, you can amend your soil with the appropriate fertilizers or organic matter. Regular feeding with a balanced, all-purpose vegetable fertilizer can also help maintain nutrient levels.

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