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When I am picking where to place vegetables in my raised garden bed, what is the rule of thumb in terms of the larger, taller plants on what side to avoid them shading the other one's as much as possible.

In my two 4x6 feet (121 cm by 182cm) beds I want to plant, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, beets, green beans, peas, and zucchini. What is the optimal layout? The beds are 11 inches or 28 cm deep.

EDIT: The long side is on the East-West Axis and Width (4 feet) North-south

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Unless you have room for the zucchini to wander outside of the raised bed, you may want to forget about them because they'll take an entire bed and then demand more room.

I would probably lay the beds out something like this (plant count is speculative, of course); the drawing is to scale:

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I put the tomatoes and peppers together so that you can rotate them out of one bed into the other every other year to help prevent disease. Disease prevention is also why I spaced them a foot apart - better airflow that way. The peas are on the north side of the bed.

The second bed assumes that you like carrots and beets equally; also, you'll want to eventually space each plant about 3" apart, which leaves you with no more than 16 carrots and 16 beets per row. If you don't need more than that, and if the beans in the first bed are enough for you, then you could maybe put a bush zucchini in 60% of the second bed.

I laid out the root crop rows north-south, which some sources say decreases overall shade on the rows. Other sources say it doesn't matter. If you want to change orientation, then put the beans in the last row, the carrots in the middle, and the beets in front. Note that beans may need support to prevent them from falling into the neighboring crops (mine usually do).

If you want three tomatoes, you could put the tomatoes in the back row of one bed, fronted by four peppers, and the root crops in the second bed. There would probably not be enough room for zucchini, though.

One last thing - mulch the beds!

  • In terms of the mulching, so I would place the mulch outside and around the beds? Do you have any suggestion on mulch (I would prefer to make/ obtain my own if possible) We do have a fair bit of wood we chop for home heating so I could obtain a fair bit of wood chips for example Thank you very much for the detailed answer! – Mathstatsstudent May 30 at 11:47
  • You say 16 carrots per row but wouldn't it be 16 * 4 = 64? If 3 inches of space can't you plant them like this in each row? The rows are 4 feet by 1 feet, so the 4 feet can accommodate ( assuming 3 inches per carrot) 16 carrots (48 inches / 3 inches) and then multiply this by 4 since it is 1 feet long in length (12 inches / 3 = 4) – Mathstatsstudent May 30 at 13:23
  • Yes, 16 per row, but there are two rows of carrots, not four in total (one row per foot). They actually like a bit of space for optimal yield. You could, I suppose try to get two rows per foot in the outside row by planting one row just a couple of inches from the sideboard and the other maybe 8 inches from that and the third row eight inches from that row (three rows in 24"). – Jurp May 31 at 1:37
  • For mulching, I was referring to the top of the beds, not necessarily the area around them. I use cocoa bean hulls for mulching my vegetables, but these are, I think, available somewhat regionally (I know they use rice hulls mixed with cocoa bean hulls elsewhere, pine straw in other regions, etc.). The only issue I'd have with wood chips on the bed is that they'll mix into the soil, which OTOH would over time help with the soil's tilth. They would be perfect outside of and around the bed, though. – Jurp May 31 at 1:54

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