Raised Garden Soil
You've just placed a raised bed in your garden, and it looks great. You can't
wait to start growing great flowers or vegetables in it. Should you just
load it with surrounding soil? Or, should you make the soil in your new raised
bed extra special, for those extra special plants? What garden soil mixture
should you use?
Raised bed gardeners are a special lot. We seek to create a rich garden soil,
to produce stunning, outstanding gardens. We want you to do so, also, without
spending money on garden soil or peat moss at the garden stores.
Raised Garden Soil Preparation:
The first step, is to dig up the grass or weeds. This can be done
before or after you set the bed frame in place. The raised garden soil depth
should be a foot or more below the ground level. The soil at this depth,
is usually far less friendly to your plants, than your garden topsoil. Garden
topsoil often goes down just a few inches. Yet, the roots of many plants
can go down to a foot in depth in just a single season.
Now your raised bed is ready to be filled with the richest soil you can create,
far better than the surrounding topsoil.
As you fill the bed, put in a variety of materials in layers.
Start with a thick layer of compost. In the first layer, it is fine to use
un-decomposed compost. By the time, your plants roots reach this area, the
material will be ready for your plant to use. It is also okay to include
a little fresh grass clippings in the bottom layer. You can also mix in some
wood ash in this first layer. Wood ash is slightly alkaline, and helps to
offset the sometimes acidic compost.
Next, put in a layer of garden soil.
The third layer is manure. Use well-rotted(decomposed) manure. If this is
not available to you, manure is available in bags at garden stores.
Follow the manure with another layer of garden soil.
Continue to layer in compost, garden soil and manure. The final two layers
should be compost, followed by garden soil on top.
Fill your raised bed a few weeks before planting, if possible. This allows
for settling of the materials, prior to planting.
A word about Peat Moss - Sure, you can certainly mix in peat moss.
But, with ample amounts of compost, there is no need to spend a penny on
peat moss. The benefits of peat moss, are looser soil and good water retention.
The compost you use, does the same thing. More
on Peat Moss
To mix or not to mix- Gardeners often ask us how to mix raised garden
soil. If you use the layered approach above, mixing the materials is not
necessary. If you feel better about mixing the materials first, you can certainly
do so. There is no right or wrong way to mix the materials you use.
Recharging raised garden soil. We recommend emptying and refilling
raised garden soil each year. Fall is a great time to set up your raised
garden for next season. Garden waste and dead plants can be put directly
into the raised bed. You can also put raw manure into it at this time. The
materials will decompose underground during the winter months. Your raised
bed will be ready for planting in the spring.
About Raised Beds
Compost Honey Holes