Tips for raised bed fall vegetable gardening

Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.


Growing your own vegetables can be rewarding, especially if you prepare your gardening beds for success. If you are new to vegetable gardening, the current trend is to create raised beds instead of tilling a huge area in your yard. It is amazing the amount of produce you can grow in a small space.

Many gardeners get frustrated when choosing materials for the “best” raised bed walls: wood, masonry or synthetic lumber.

Natural wood may be better than pressure-treated lumber as no chemicals/preservatives have been used. Synthetic lumber is a manufactured product; it is made from recycled plastic and without the use of toxic chemical preservatives, but there are some concerns of durability.

Masonry stone, brick or pre-cast concrete (including cinder blocks) can be used to construct raised beds.

My raised beds don’t have walls at all. The soil is mounded up by using compost, the native soil and leaf mulch. I have been quite successful, no issues of erosion.

Soil testing is also important as to make sure your nutrient and lime levels are optimal for vegetable growing. Soil kits are available at the Wilson Extension office and are a free service until November.

Locate your raised beds where they will receive at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight. The closer your raised beds can be to a water source and your kitchen the better. The three rain barrels in my backyard water my vegetable garden. There are some concerns of using water from asphalt shingles, acid rain, etc., for root crop vegetables, so use potable water for crops such as carrots and potatoes.

Vegetables that can be put out in the late summer and/or fall include asparagus (a perennial vegetable that takes a few years to get established before you can harvest), beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onion, garden and snow peas, radishes, rutabagas, spinach and turnips.

For information on vegetable gardening use the Home Vegetable Gardening brochure published by N.C. Cooperative Extension. Find it at http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/ag-06.html. Also plan to join us for our Virtual Gardens Talks: Planning a Fall Vegetable Garden at 3 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 17, via Zoom. Register on Eventbrite, https://garden-talks-planning-the-fall-vegetable-garden.eventbrite.com.

For information on gardening contact the Wilson Master Garden volunteers at 252-237-0113 or wilsonemgv@hotmail.com.

So whether you are new to vegetable gardening or not be sure to get your cool season crops in for a wonderful bounty of veggies.

Cyndi Lauderdale is horticulture extension agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension.