Because this year was wetter than usual, the raised beds were critical in providing soil that was not saturated with excess rain. This saved many crops. However if the year had been dry, growing conditions would have absolutely been different. That is am important consideration to keep in mind when designing your raised beds garden. There is no PERFECT garden for the varying conditions that are certain to come, year to year. An old timer once told me to have 7 years of food stuffs laid up. He had seen some lean times that had continued more than a couple years. Thus the 7 year window of provisions. Good advice, but I digress....
So you have your raised bed boxes constructed & you've lined the inside with chicken wire to keep the critters from boring up into your beds from below to eat your crops. You have filled your boxes with your soil & amendments. Mel Bartholomew, guru on square foot gardening, recommends using a mix of equal parts of compost, peat moss & vermiculite. I highly recommend this recipe. For my beds I used a mix of quality topsoil, compost & rabbit/chicken manure.
You can plant cool season crops now or wait until spring. If you wait until spring, I would recommend covering your soil with straw or a cover crop. Using straw to surround your plants will significantly cut down your weed pressure, help hold moisture in your soils, & enrich your soil through the breakdown of the naturally decomposing straw material. One can also use leaves as a soil amendment.
This year also was a first for me in that a friend of mine is "teaching me the ropes" on how to grow plants from seed in a greenhouse & selling stuff at the Hermann Farmers' Market. My first exposure to the Hermann Farmers' Market couldn't have been better! The vendors are cool, the customers a wealth of information, & how can one not love being outside, surrounded by like-minded souls, promoting localization!!
Because of the greenhouse boost & learning about how this is all done from my friend, I was able to plant 75 tomatoe plants of 5 heirloom varieties, & then sell the produce at the Hermann Farmers' Market! Locally grown, locally sold!!!! Now get to working on those beds!!