I’m new to gardening and have made my own 8ft long x 2 ft high x 2 ft wide garden bed. I have a chicken wire latch top to stop the animals from getting in. The bottom is open and connected to the ground for moisture. I have filled the planter with soil and triple mix. The planter is south/east facing and gets 8 hours of sun. I have an idea of what I want to grow but would love some advice to make sure I get this right/have enough space! I was thinking of growing (in order) chives, tomatoes, basil, peppers, cilantro, parsley, spinach, cucumber, lettuce strawberries, thyme. Is this feasible/a good order/managable choices for a new gardener? Thank you so much in advance for your help!
Thank you so much for a great question and for choosing Toronto Master Gardeners. You have a good-sized raised bed (16 square feet), in an excellent location (SE), with great sun exposure, and you have fresh good soil. You have chosen an excellent selection of herbs and vegetables. You have all the ingredients for a very productive and manageable vegetable garden. If you have not started your vegetables by seed, you may buy the seedlings you want. You can start planting your seedlings after the last frost day, and wait one further week to plant out your tomatoes and peppers.
An excellent method to approach vegetable growing in a raised bed is to use an old, but very well-established system created by Mel Bartholomew, called Square Foot Gardening (1981). On-line, you can find a large number of websites that use his system and there are even square-foot gardening calculators and planners available. You could check out the Square Foot Gardening Foundation (https://squarefootgardening.org/).
The idea is that you create a grid made up of one-square-foot squares. Your raised bed has 16 squares. In each square you plant one kind of vegetable or herb. Tomatoes and peppers (if they are in cages) take up one square; you can get four herb plants in a square; four spinach plants and four lettuces; and if you have a lattice for them to grow up, then you can get two cucumbers in a square. The one exception you have is strawberries, which are perennials, and each year they spread a little. You could consider putting them in the corners of your raised bed and let them create a pretty curtain as they droop down the sides of the box. You will not need to do much weeding since there will be little space for weeds to grow. Check for weeds and cut them off (rather than pulling them out which may disturb neighboring roots). Make sure that your vegetables do not dry out. Each year add more compost. Happy gardening.