Gardeners are notorious for getting ideas and finding new ways to use space in their garden by visiting garden stores and nurseries. After the fall cold snap when our gardens succumb and we find ourselves sad about the abrupt end to the season, we just can’t stop thinking about gardening.
While you may know that raised beds are a great way to use space and reach your veggies as they grow, you may like to see some ideas to ponder for next season. A rectangle (pictured) is the most common shape for a raised bed and it is generally recommended that it be 3-4 feet wide and about 6-8 feet long so that you can reach if from each end. Shorter is just fine and having two or more is often desired depending on how much produce and variety that you want to grow.
Three tips in the mountains for new raised beds are to line the bottom with hardware cloth to deter critters from digging from below, adding row covers to warm the soil for seeds and keep insects and critters, including birds, from snatching your seeds and seedlings, and adding a hoop and cover above to let the plants grow in more even temperatures plus protect them from hail or sunscald. Row covers are synthetic fabric from garden stores or even cotton sheets. Plastic is ok for the hoop cover as long as the plastic doesn’t touch the plants - or the hot or cold plastic will likely harm the plants.
A fun idea recently spotted at a garden center is the wall garden (pictured) with multiple smaller planters using vertical space instead of only horizontal space. Also in the photos are vertical trellises that peas, beans, cucumbers or other vines can grow up. Using good fresh amended garden soil or “topping off” an existing raised bed with soil formulated with ingredients for raised beds will give your seeds and seedlings the nutrients that they need.
In the upcoming winter months there are many good CSU Extension Fact Sheets (FS) you may wish to read or review about soil preparation (FS 7.235) plant selection for the mountains (FS 7.248), growing from seed (FS 7.409) pest control (FS 5.569), and new to Colorado gardeners (FS 7.220 and 7.244) to plan for the warmth of next spring.