Designing an Exotic Vegetable Raised Bed
If you have a sheltered, sunny wall that absorbs the sun’s heat during the day and warms the surrounding air at night, take advantage of this microclimate to grow exotic crops. This raised bed has been filled with heat-loving tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and feathery-leaved garbanzo (chickpea) plants, as well as cucumbers and sweet potatoes that scramble up the wall. Some of these vegetables only crop well in hot summers, but they make attractive curiosities that are fun to try.
The bed for this garden should be about 6 x 3 feet (2 x 1 m) with fertile and moist, but free-draining, soil. Choose a site win front of a wall with full sun. These plants are most successful in warm regions.
Types of Plants to Consider
- Eggplant ‘Moneymaker’
- Cucumber ‘Carmen’
- Sweet pepper ‘Gypsy’
- Tomato ‘Summer Sweet’
- Garbanzo ‘Principe’
- Sweet potato ‘Beauregard’
Planting and Aftercare
Sow seeds of tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers, and eggplants under cover in spring. Once the risk of frost has passed, harden the young plants off and plant them out in the raised bed. It is a good idea to soak the garbanzos in regularly changed water for a few days until they sprout before planting them in their final positions. Plant the sweet potato “slips” with about 2 inches (5 cm) of stem above the soil and, as with the other young plants, water well. Attach wire mesh to the wall and train the cucumber and sweet potato stems through it. Once the first fruits have set, fertilize weekly with a tomato fertilizer that is high in potash. Crops should be ready to harvest in late summer.