Best time of year for raised vegetable garden beds?
Hi OSU extension experts. We are south Eugene homeowners with a large back yard, 2/3 of it taken up with grass or flowerbeds. However, there is a large area that gets good sun exposure at the west end of our yard. Currently it is the home to many many weeds. We would like to put in raised garden beds for vegetables. We would like to grow tomatoes and any sort of salad greens that thrive in this environment. Berries would be great too. And anything we can throw in a salad really. When is the best time of year to put in raised beds? We have room for two or three good-sized beds. Are we too late for this season of vegetable growth? We are new to vegetable gardening and want to know when the best time would be to begin the project. Thank you!
Lane County Oregon
You are heading into the prime time to start vegetables, so I would put in your raised beds now. You can still plant cool season crops like lettuces for salads, kale, arugula, broccoli, spinach, carrots, beets, onions, and radishes. I would say some of your warm season crops like cucumbers, beans, eggplant, peppers, zucchini/summer squash, and some mid to late season tomatoes, can stand to wait a little, since the nights are still a bit chilly. If you have determined that your sunny area gets at least 6-8 hours of sun, then those would be the places to plant your spring crops and warm season veggies, when it's time. You are a little late for peas, but can try for a fall crop. You are also at the end of the planting season for potatoes, but can try to start some and see what happens. You can also plant herbs, except for basil (which can wait another few weeks). All veggies are pretty much a go, just as long as the threat of frost is gone. The last frost date here in the Willamette Valley is usually April 15th until mid-October.
The most important thing to remember is getting good, nutrient-rich soil mixed with compost, if possible. Lane Forest and Rexius both have great mixes that can be delivered to your home to fill your beds. A good irrigation system is always nice, but if you hand-water, make sure you do it according to the needs of the specific plant. Being in southern Eugene (especially the hills and foothills), you have to be wary of deer. You may want to look around your neighborhood to see if others have deer fencing around their gardens. If so, that means you are going to be good candidates for deer too.
Good luck with your garden, and let us know if we can be of help to you in the future. Happy gardening!