Yesterday I set up a raised bed for my fall garden, and put in two parsley plants, mostly to have something to look at before the seeds start sprouting. I assembled a 4x8 foot cedar raised bed from a kit I'd bought some time back, and filled it with a mix of 1/3 compost, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 peat moss.
I use the Square Foot Gardening method developed by Mel Bartholomew, as outlined in his book All New Square Foot Gardening. This method has several advantages, including space efficiency, ease of weeding and watering, high yields from remarkably small area, and attractiveness. Most of the expense and work is up front, since once you have a bed set up and prepared, it can be used for a long time (until the material for the structure of the raised bed degrades) aside from regular addition of compost.
The key trait of the method is that it dispenses with row gardening, and divides rectangular area into 12 inch by 12 inch grids of squares. Depending on the size of the plant, you can get 16, 9, 4, or one plant per each square. Since my bed will give me 32 squares, I'm doing staggered plantings of 8 squares each over a four week period. Staggering my planting avoids the problem of too much of one crop maturing at once.
My first week I'm planting Baby Finger and Royal Chantenay carrots, Black Seeded Simpson lettuce, Red Winter Kale, and a Bloomsdale spinach. All the seeds are organic, and all except the spinach is an heirloom plant. I'm considering adding beets, turnips, and chard to the mix in subsequent weeks. Lettuce, carrots, and spinach will be planted every week, since we can eat as much of those vegetables as I can grow.
My goal this year is to garden all fall and winter, with cold-hardy plants like lettuce and kale dominating the outdoor gardening, and sprouting done indoors. Sprouts will be a topic for a whole future post. At the moment I have a batch of brocolli sprouts ready to eat, and soy and sunflower sprouts in progress.