The Q&A Archives: Veggies in raised bed

Question: I am about to attempt to start a cinder block (raised garden) with tomatoes, peppers and squash. It is 4x8 ft and approx. 16 inches deep. I would like to know what soil is best to use. I live in Benicia California, get quite a bit of sun in the summer,as I planned for the sunniest spot in my yard, along with wind.
Can you please help me out?
Thanks so much!

Answer: Raised beds are excellent places to grow heat-loving veggies such as tomatoes, peppers and squash. No need to purchase special soil mixtures, you can use regular garden soil to fill your bed. If you don't have any spare garden soil, you can purchase a 3-way mix (soil, sand, and organic matter) from landscape materials suppliers. Your bed is deep enough for the roots of your plants but the squash (depending upon the type you're growing) may try to take over the area. This isn't necessarily a bad thing - squash foliage can shade the soil, keeping weeds at bay and slowing water evaporation. If you're growing winter squash (hubbard, pumpkin, etc.) the fruits will be heavy and will need to be left on the ground, but if you're growing summer squash (crookneck, pattypan, etc.), you may want to erect a trellis along the back of your raised bed and train the squash vines up the trellis. I've even seen supports like this made out of a wooden A-frame and strung with wire. You simply train the vines along the wires and allow the fruit to hang down on its own. This method makes harvesting easy! After planting your tomato, pepper and squash plants, you'll want to spread a 2" organic mulch over the soil surface to help suppress weeds and slow water evaporation. Aside from watering as necessary, all you'll need to do is harvest your yummy veggies as they ripen. Enjoy!

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