Adding some raised beds to your garden this year? Great idea. I’ve seen it said that raised beds produce about four times the amount of produce as do row crops. Plants seem more vigorous there in early season, probably because the soil in a raised bed warms faster than that in the garden patch. As gardeners, we love early season growth.
None of this is true, of course, if the soil in your raised bed isn’t at its best. And that’s the great things about raised beds. You can dig them out and fill them as you like. Think of them as a controlled experiment in which you’re looking for just the perfect mix of organic materials — including beneficial microbes and other living things — and naturally occurring nutrients like nitrogen and minerals.
The easy way is to just buy topsoil and compost, in bags or not, and fill up the bed’s box. If you have your own compost, or can get reliable, organic compost — we were lucky to get it from a local, organic dairy goat farm — it’s worth making your own soil recipe. That way, you’ll be able to fine-tune it for particular crops. Growing tomatoes? Make your soil slightly acidic, just the way they like it. Growing greens? You’ll want to keep the nitrogen low until you have germination.
If you’re using compost, make sure that it’s completely finished. If you’re adding manures of any kind, make sure they’re completely composted and are no longer “hot.” Mix in other materials, like peat, pumice or vermiculite if you’re looking for good drainage, or sand, which root vegetables like. The easiest way to make sure compost is garden-ready is to spread it in the fall, leaving it on the surface to finish through the freeze and thaw cycles of winter.
If you didn’t spread compost in the fall or just don’t have any to spare, you can make it on the spot and grow in it as you do. We’ve stuck a bale or two of straw in raised beds in the fall and were left with good results when we pulled the remnants off in the spring.
Not only does the bale smother any weeds that might try to poke up early, it conditions the soil beneath where it sits. We even know someone that placed a bale right on the sod where he put his box in August and finished up with top soil when it came time to plant next spring. Personally, I’d go to the trouble to dig out all the sod ahead of putting down bales. But that’s just me.
If you’re putting in new raised beds this spring, why not put your first planting right in the straw bales? The craft of straw bale gardening has grown in popularity and for good reason. Some gardeners skip the box altogether and just grow in the bale.
- Mix One: 50/50 Compost and Topsoil
- Mix Two: Lasagna Gardening Soil Solution
- Mix Three: Mel’s Mix
- Climate Conditions and Plant Needs
- Growing Fresh Vegetables
- Garden Fundamentals – become a better gardener
- Soil for Raised Beds
- Soilless Options
- Real Soil Option
- Perched Water Table
- Calculating the Amount of Soil for Raised Beds
- Dealing With Old Soil
- The best soil for a raised garden bed
- How much soil do you need?
- Amending the soil in your raised bed
- Additional soil tips
- Looking for raised bed inspiration?
- What is the Best Soil for Raised Garden Beds?
- The 5 Best Soil for Raised Garden Beds
- Best Soil for Raised Beds Reviews
- How much Soil for Raised Garden Beds?
- How to Prepare Soil for Raised Bed Vegetable Garden?
- 5 Tips for Improving Your Raised Bed Garden Soil
- Why You Should Make Your Own Organic Soil?
- The Art of Gardening and Square Foot Gardening
- The Ultimate Bundle ~ A Great Garden Resource
- How Much Organic Garden Soil Do I Need To Make?
- How To Make Organic Garden Soil For Raised Beds
- Back To Our Example Project
- Now follow these easy 3 steps
- What If You Bought In Bulk & Can’t Measure Your Soil?
- Here Is The Finished Product
- Fertile Soil Recipe
- Adding Organic Matter for Rich, Fertile Soil
- Want more information about raised bed gardening?
- What Is a Raised Garden Bed?
- Why Should I Build a Raised Garden Bed?
- Choosing the Right Wood for Raised Beds
- How Big Should Your Raised Bed Be?
- Preparing the Site for a Raised Bed
- Building a Raised Garden Bed
- Soil for Raised Garden Beds
- Planning a Raised Bed Garden
- Learn More
- Soil Mixture For Raised Beds Begins With A Good Basic Soil Mix
- What Soil To Put In Raised Beds – Why Not Just Buy Compost?
- Raised Garden Bed Soil Does Not Have To Be Deep
- When Should You Amend Soil Used In Your Raised Bed Garden?
- How To Amend Raised Beds Soil Mixture
- Create Soil For Your Raised Garden Bed To Suit Your Purpose
- Mulch Is Very Important!
- The Right Soil For Raised Bed Gardening Produces Bumper Crops!
The Perfect Raised Bed Soil Mix
Good organic garden soil is the single most important ingredient for healthy, nutritious vegetables. It is loose and fluffy — filled with air that plant roots need — and has plenty of nutrients and minerals essential for vigorous plant growth and bountiful yields. Filling your raised beds is an opportunity to get high-quality soil and to fine-tune the mix of fertilizers and amendments.
The following soil mix was developed by Planet Natural to fill a 4’ X 8’ raised bed one foot deep (32 cu ft).
5 bags Black Gold Peat Moss, 2.2 cf x 5 = 11 cf
3 bags Teufel’s Organic Compost, 3 cf x 3 = 9 cf
4 bags Worm Castings, 1 cf x 4 = 4 cf
3 bags Organic Chicken Manure, 1 cf x 3 = 3 cf
2 bag Therm-O-Rock Organic Vermiculite, 2 cf x 2 = 4 cf
3-6 lbs Azomite
1-2 lbs Kelp Meal
3-6 lbs Oyster Shell Flour
2-4 lbs All-Purpose Fertilizer
Have on hand all the ingredients for your soil mix before you start filling the beds, and pre-mix as much as possible, on a large tarp if necessary, to avoid pockets of peat, manure or any other ingredients.
Note: Do NOT use pressure treated wood or railroad ties for your raised bed frame because of chemical leaching.
Once the hay bale growing is over, your raised box will be left with good-quality left behind from the composted straw. You can hasten the process by adding some compost or top soil which you’ll probably do as part of sticking plants in the bale. Either way, the soil inside your raised bed will benefit.
Bales provide good moisture control. They also warm faster in cool weather and insulate, if damp, in warm. And while you’re growing cucumbers with the help of a little soil or compost out of the top, the bale is making soil for you on the bottom.
Not all bales are created equal. Baled hay and pasture cuttings will contain weed seeds, something that can bring problems into your garden. Straw, if it’s what’s left after seed heads have been harvested, usually contains little weed seed. The terms seem interchangeable at time. A glance at the bales you’re buying should tell you which they really are, no matter what they’re being sold as.
There’s lots of advice out there on how to fill your raised beds. Let us know what you’re using, either in the comments section or on Facebook.
You can build the best soil for growing vegetables in a raised bed by mixing specific soil types. While pre-mixed soils are available for purchase, it’s far cheaper to make your own mix. Blending the right types and amount of soils is easy when you follow a formula.
Mix One: 50/50 Compost and Topsoil
Many people believe it’s best to use local soil for raised beds. This approach takes local climate and environment into consideration for growing vegetables. Start with the easiest soil mix formula of 50% compost and 50% local topsoil.
The higher the compost quality, the more nutrients the soil has to feed plants. Most organic gardeners create their own compost. This decomposed organic matter has a recognizable texture that is dark brown and crumbly. If you’d prefer to just buy your compost, Dr. Earth All Purpose Compost contains earthworm castings, alfalfa meal, kelp meal and other organic nutrients. A 1.5 cubic-foot bag costs around $30.
Good quality compost should contain the nutrients vegetables need for healthy growth. These include the macronutrients known as NPK: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). In addition to these macronutrients, compost has many beneficial micronutrients and trace minerals. Some include sulfur, manganese, iron, copper, zinc, carbon, magnesium, calcium, boron and iodine.
Topsoil is typically the first two to six inches of the top layer of soil. You can purchase topsoil in a loamy mixture of clay, silt and sand by the cubic yard from a landscaping supplier. You can also buy a 40 pound bag from a local garden center. You should purchase topsoils that have been screened to reduce clumps and debris.
Poor Topsoil Solutions
Some topsoils are very poor quality with few nutrients. This soil can provide volume to your raised bed, but will need different soils and amendments, such as compost, lime and various nutrients and trace minerals. Composted manures are quality amendments that also provide good soil texture for root growth.
Mix Two: Lasagna Gardening Soil Solution
If your budget won’t allow for purchasing the soils you need to fill your raised bed, opt for the lasagna gardening method. Also known as the Hugelkultur (hill mound) method, you’ll start by placing twigs, leaves and straw at the very bottom of the raised bed.
You can also use vegetable ink newspapers and various compostable foodstuffs (no meats), such as coffee grounds, egg shells, and tea leaves. These will be layered like a lasagna until you’re about six to eight inches from the top of your raised bed. Don’t overfill the bed.
Add Bagged Garden Soil
You can now invest in bagged soil to fill those last few inches. Most vegetables don’t require more than six to 12 inches for root growth. The materials you layered beneath the bagged soil will gradually decompose and breakdown under the heat, water and air. The decomposing materials will slow-release nutrients. As the under layers break down and the soil compacts, you can add more layers as well as compost from your compost pile.
- Adding gardening soil to compost will build up nutrient properties.
- You should avoid using potting soil since it will drain too quickly and wash away nutrients.
- Espoma Organic Garden Soil for Vegetables and Flowers features all natural organic gardening soil. It contains 11 strains of endo and ecto mycorrhizae (good fungi) and earthworm castings. A bag with one cubic feet sells for just under $30.
Mix Three: Mel’s Mix
The famous Mel’s Mix is the Holy Grail for most raised bed gardeners. It’s mixed by volume using an easy formula consisting of:
- 1/3 coarse horticultural vermiculite
- 1/3 peat moss
- 1/3 blended compost
Climate Conditions and Plant Needs
There are instances when you may need to use a specific soil type for your gardening needs.
- Local climates can often require a different soil mix. For example, a rainy Pacific Northwest garden will need a mix that allows for good drainage, but the same soil mixture would be inappropriate for an arid desert region.
- Some plants, such as blueberries, require a more acidic soil mix for a different pH soil level.
Growing Fresh Vegetables
The key to the best soil in a raised bed vegetable garden is to remember that you always want to feed the soil and not the plants. This approach ensures your soil will be rich in nutrients to support vegetable growth.
Garden Fundamentals – become a better gardener
You have decided to make raised beds and now need to fill them with soil. What is the best soil for raised beds? How often does it need to be replaced? How much compost should be added? Should you mix in some garden soil? I’ll answers these and other question in this post.
Before we start, lets define the term raised beds. I discussed raised beds in Raised Beds – Pros & Cons, and defined them as having walls. I will continue to use this definition in this post.
Soil for Raised Beds
Soil for Raised Beds
Before looking at specific soil mixtures it is important to understand the purpose of the soil. You can take two different approaches, either the raised bed is just another container or it is an extension of your garden.
As a container, you can add any number of soilless mixes. They will provide a very airy soil that dries out quickly and needs regular watering. They contain little or no nutrients and therefore needs regular fertilizing. These high maintenance soils are great for growing large plants in small spaces. Some raised bed vegetable growers like this approach – I guess it gives them something to do every day.
The other option is to treat the raised bed as an extension of your garden in which case the soil will be mostly real soil (sand, clay and silt). It will not dry out as much and it won’t need as much fertilizer. The lower maintenance may result in slightly lower yields but I am not convinced you will notice a big difference.
One big difference is cost. The second option is much less expensive initially, and even cheaper long term since the soil retains its level much better.
There are many options and mixtures that you can use. You could simple buy bags of potting mix for containers which are usually peat based with some perlite added. This will cost you a fortune.
You can also follow any one of many recipes and make your own mix. Mel’s mix, developed by Mel Bartholemew (author of the popular gardening classic Square Foot Gardening), is a popular one and contains equal amounts of peat moss, compost and vermiculite. I am sure this mix will grow great vegetables, but you will need to water a lot.
These kind of mixes have a number of problems.
They are very expensive compared to soil-based options.
Horticultural vermiculite can be difficult to find and at one point it did contain asbestos. It should be asbestos free today, depending on where it is mined. Some people report that it degrades into dust over time, loosing its ability to create an airy soil. It is not something I would add to my garden.
Peat Moss and Compost
Both of these ingredients are organic material that decompose over time. That means the level of soil in the beds goes down every year and you will need to add more annually.
One issue with Mel’s mix is the amount of compost used. Normal soil has about 10% organic matter, by volume. Mel’s formula has 60% organic matter of which 30% is compost – that is way too much. Even if it does not harm your plants all of that compost is a waste of nutrients.
Real Soil Option
The soil option fills the raised bed with soil that is very similar to what you have in the garden. If your garden soil is good, and you have enough of it, just use that. There is no need to buy anything.
If your soil contains too much clay, add some builders sand to it. If it is too sandy, add some clay soil.
If you don’t have enough soil, then buy some top soil. Compared to soilless options this is quite inexpensive but may not be available in all regions. To learn more about different types of soil have a look at Soil and Compost – Selecting the Right One. Also have a look at Top Soil, Compost & Tripple Mix – What’s the Difference?
Because soil is mostly sand, silt and clay, it will not settle nearly as much as the soilless option, but you can expect some settling to take place during the first year.
The clay in real soil will retain water much better than soilless mixes.
Add 10% compost to the soil to both loosen it up and add nutrients.
Perched Water Table
A perched water table is created when two different types of soil are layered on top of one another, especially if the particle size of the soils are different. Water has trouble going through a perched water table.
This situation can be created at the bottom of the raised bed where the two different soils meet. If you create this, water will not drain properly from the raised bed. It will trickle down to the bottom of the bed and sit there. The same thing happens in a pot or container if you place stones at the bottom. This phenomenon is described more fully in the book Garden Myths.
To prevent a perched water table, loosen the soil at the bottom of the bed, and mix the native soil with the soil you will use in the bed. This provide a more gradual change in soil particle size, preventing the problem.
Calculating the Amount of Soil for Raised Beds
Almost everybody underestimates the amount of soil needed to fill raised beds.
Bulk soil is usually sold in volume and in North America the common unit of measure is the yard. This is even true in Canada which is partially metric – but not for bulk soil and many other things. A yard is actually a cubic yard, which is the soil that fits into a container that is 1 yd x 1 yd x 1yd = 1 cu yd.
Use this formula to convert the size of your raised bed into yards.
Height (ft) x width (ft) x length (ft) / 27 = yards of soil
A yard of top soil weighs about 1,150 Kg, or 2,530 pounds. So if you are buying by the bag, a yard is 46 x 25 Kg bags, or 63 x 40 lb bags.
Bulk soil can be sold in cubic meters, which is soil that fills a container that is 1m x 1 m x 1m = 1 cu m.
Use this formula to convert the size of your raised bed to cubic meters.
Height (m) x width (m) x length (m) = cu m of soil
A cu m of top soil weighs about 1,500 Kg, which is equivalent of 60 x 25 kg bags.
Dealing With Old Soil
People using containers and raised beds are told that “soil gets old”. That is a myth. Soil does not get old and does not need to be replaced unless you have contaminated it with high levels of fertilizer or pesticides. This is especially true of real soil as opposed to soil-less mixes, but even those can be used for a very long time. They don’t get old either – they just decompose.
Used soil usually lacks nutrients and organic matter since both are used up as plants grow. The best think to do is to add a couple of inches of compost each spring by layering it on top, as a mulch. Don’t dig it in, since digging soil damages soil structure. This compost increases the amount of organic matter, which decomposes over time providing nutrients. If you follow this advice the soil will never be old.
1) Raised Beds; http://ext100.wsu.edu/gardentips/category/raised-beds/
3) Photo source; Wicker Paradise
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The best soil for a raised garden bed
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One of the major benefits of gardening in a raised bed is you get to control the soil. This is especially advantageous for those whose property has hard-packed or clay soil, issues with tree roots, or concerns about pollutants. And since good soil is the foundation of a healthy garden, you want to make sure you’re setting your veggies up for success. So, what is the best soil for a raised garden bed?
Raised beds can be any size, but for a standard, rectangular bed, I recommend about three to four feet wide by six to eight feet long and 10 to 12 inches high. Those dimensions allow a gardener to reach in to plant, sow, and weed, without having to walk through it. This leads to another benefit in comparison to gardening in-ground in traditional rows. The soil in a raised bed will remain loose and friable, rather than being hard-packed over time by footsteps. We also know there is a whole web of micro-activity happening, so it’s best not to disturb and compact the soil for that reason, too.
How much soil do you need?
Filling a raised bed will likely require more soil than you think. A soil delivery might make the most sense economically. However, if it’s not practical logistically, you’ll need to purchase it in bags. You could also find an area in your yard from which you can move topsoil. There are some great soil calculators online that can help you figure out the amount you need.
If you happened to cut out the sod underneath where your raised bed will go, flip the pieces, grass-side-down to fill the bottom of your raised beds. There is lots of soil attached and the grass will break down over time. This also means you’ll require less soil to fill the raised bed.
If you dug up sod to make room for a raised bed, flip the pieces upside-down and use them to fill the bottom.
When I built my raised beds, I called around and ordered what I thought would be a good-quality triple mix. In Ontario where I live, triple mix is generally top soil, compost, and peat moss or black loam. A 50/50 mix seems to be more common in the U.S., which is a blend of top soil and compost.
If you’re ordering a soil delivery, try to find out where your soil has come from. Topsoil is often taken from land being developed for new subdivisions. It might have sat for a long time and can be devoid of nutrients.
If you’re purchasing bags of soil, look for labels like organic vegetable and herb mix or organic garden soil for vegetables and flowers.
Whatever you end up using, you want to make sure you amend it with compost. All that rich organic matter is an important component that will hold moisture and provide nutrients to your plants. Compost is an essential ingredient in the best soil for a raised garden bed, no matter which mix of ingredients you choose.
I filled my beds with about 3/4 triple mix, and even though it had compost in it, I top-dressed the garden with about ¼ compost. If you don’t have a compost pile, there are all sorts different types of compost on the market. Garden centres sell everything from mushroom or shrimp compost, to composted manure or bags labelled “organic vegetable compost.” Your municipality might even have free compost giveaway days in the spring.
Amending the soil in your raised bed
If you don’t have a compost pile, keep some compost on reserve throughout the gardening season. If you’re pulling out your spent pea plants mid-summer, not only are you removing a bit of earth, but those plants will have depleted the soil of nutrients. Topping up your beds with compost will add nutrients back into the soil to prepare it for whatever you plant next.
I like to add chopped leaves into the soil in the fall. Run them over with your lawnmower and sprinkle into your beds to break down over the winter. I have a compost pile where all the other leaves go. When they’re ready, I’ll use the leaf mould to spread in my gardens. To maintain the health of even the best soil for a raised garden bed, adding organic matter every year is essential.
In the springtime, I also will amend the soil with compost. I find the soil levels in my raised beds are usually lower from the weight of the snow. This fills them back up to the top.
Additional soil tips
- If you have smaller containers to fill, check out Jessica’s recipes in her DIY potting soil article
- It’s a good idea to do a soil pH test from time to time, so you can make the necessary amendments that will help your crops to flourish.
- Growing cover crops is also a great way to add nutrients back into the soil.
- If you are growing berries, like strawberries and blueberries, which like a more acidic soil, you can purchase soil that’s been specially formulated to grow them, or adjust the level with elemental sulfur or aluminum sulfate.
Looking for raised bed inspiration?
- Planting a raised bed: Tips on spacing, sowing, and growing in raised bed gardens
- The benefits of raised bed gardens
- Raised bed designs for gardening
- Elevated raised bed gardening
- 6 things to think about before preparing a raised bed garden
Gardening is a great way to relieve stress in a productive way. After all, you are the creative mastermind behind your garden.
A popular method for gardening is using a raised garden bed.
A raised garden bed is when a plot of soil is placed into a bed above the surrounding soil.
This bed is often blocked off with planks of wood and has its own special soil mixture. Not every soil is created equal, and the best soil for raised garden beds can be hard to find.
What is the Best Soil for Raised Garden Beds?
Every gardener wants to create the best soil for their plants. Without it, there’s not a big chance of a fruitful season for your flowers or trees. This is especially true for raised garden beds.
Raised garden beds are completely separated from the soil in the ground. So, it’s up to the gardener to create the perfect soil. How they do this depends on a few things.
The best soil for raised garden beds depends on what you want to grow. If the plant you’re looking for thrives in acidic soil, you need to add components to make the soil ideal. Similarly, if your plant loves a more basic pH level, you need more balancing agents in your soil.
Additionally, you need to take the weather into consideration. If it’s very dry where you live, you might need to add soil that retains moisture well. If your area receives a good amount of rain, make sure you have a good drainage system.
So, the best soil for your raised garden bed depends on what you want to grow and the area you live in. You make your soil from scratch, so make sure to create a combination with these things in mind.
The 5 Best Soil for Raised Garden Beds
Creating the perfect soil for your raised garden can be difficult. Many factors go into it, and it’s hard for new gardeners to master it on the first try. That’s why there are several soil options available that do it for you.
|Pictures||Raised Garden Bed Soil||Sizes||Links|
|Compressed Organic Potting-Soil for Garden & Plants||3-Gallon|
|Miracle-Gro Expand ‘N Gro Potting Soil||2-Gallon|
|Espoma Company (VFGS1) Organic Vegetable and Flower Soil||7.5-Gallon|
|Black Gold Organic Potting Soil||4-Gallon|
|Soil Mender Raised Bed Mix||11.2-Gallon|
Best Soil for Raised Beds Reviews
1. Compressed Organic Potting-Soil for Garden & Plants
First on the list is the Organic Plant Magic compressed soil. This soil comes in a two-pound bag, and also expands to seven times its size when you add water. It seems like a good deal for the cost.
The Organic Plant Magic soil has a good blend of healthy components that your plants need for growth. Beneficial bacteria, worm castings, and ground coconut coir make this soil rich.
A great feature that this soil has is that it maintains its water content very well. Not only does it expand when in contact with water, but it also holds it three times longer than soil without it. It’s perfect for soils in warm weather or areas that don’t get enough rain.
This compressed soil is organic and better for your plants than chemical-based soils. It’s also pet-friendly and safe for use around humans as well.
All things considered, the Organic Plant Magic compressed soil is an excellent option. It’s affordable, thoughtfully designed, and safe to handle.
2. Miracle-Gro Expand ‘N Gro Potting Soil
Following that is the Expand n’ Gro soil by Miracle-Gro. Miracle-Gro is a pioneer in the soil and gardening world, so their products are often very effective. This product follows that path as well.
As the name suggests, Expand n’ Gro gets bigger when it’s introduced to water. While you initially have one bag of soil, when you add water to it, it grows to the amount of three bags. This saves you money from having to buy more bags.
The Expand n’ Gro soil also adds the necessary air into your potting mix. Adding air back to the soil allows the roots to get the oxygen they need. With the expansion, this soil creates 90% more air in the original soil.
The Expand n’ Gro soil can be used for ground soil, raised garden beds, and potting containers. This soil also has an extended release property. It can feed your plants for up to six months after you initially add it in.
3. Espoma Company (VFGS1) Organic Vegetable and Flower Soil
Next is the Espoma organic garden soil. This soil is suitable for use with flowers and vegetables. Espoma also sells these soils in different packages, so you can buy more at once if you want to.
Espoma garden soil is meant to be used for in-ground planting. While you can still use it with containers and raised garden beds, it works better as an in-ground soil.
This product has a great list of ingredients. It’s fortified with Espoma’s proprietary Myco-tone. Myco-tone has excellent components including, several strains of beneficial ecto and endo mycorrhizae. These help give plants the nutrients they need and also strengthen the soil itself.
Other key ingredients include earthworm castings, sphagnum peat moss, and peat humus. Espoma’s thorough ingredients have everything your plants need to thrive and then some.
On top of its great ingredients, Espoma is organic, so it’s easier for plants to grow in. It also leaves no harmful effects like chemically enhanced soils. All in all, Espoma’s soil is great for in-ground planters.
4. Black Gold Organic Potting Soil
If you want to focus on container-grown fruits and vegetables, this next product is for you. The Black Gold potting soil and fertilizer is designed specifically for potted plants. However, you can use it for pretty much any type of gardening.
The Black Gold soil comes in a hefty bag of 16 quarts, but there are more options for package quantities. Plus, this is one of the more affordable options on this list for the amount sold.
This soil is another great option when you look at its ingredients. It has several excellent factors that make it perfect for potting.
The Black Gold company really took the time to create a rich and loamy mixture. Perlite and pumice are added to make for air space and pore growth. Other factors are added to cater to the western regions, which this soil works best for.
Finally, this product has already been reviewed by the Organic Materials Review Institute. That means you can rest assured you’re getting an organic and eco-friendly soil.
5. Soil Mender Raised Bed Mix
The final contender for being the best raised garden soil is the Soil Mender product. These manufacturers know what they’re doing, as they stress the importance of good soil.
This product is designed specifically for raised garden beds. It has the right texture, composure, and mineral base for the job. It’s a very well put together soil in general.
Soil Mender is very thorough in explaining the components of their soil. It starts off with organic topsoil and has other additions, like granite sand. The list continues with expanded shale, coir, humate, and composted cotton burrs.
The organic ingredients and affordable price make this Soil Mender product exemplary. It’s the perfect starter soil, as it has several key ingredients and is affordable.
How much Soil for Raised Garden Beds?
With raised garden beds, the soil is the main factor for success. You want to have a perfect balance of it. Too much soil runs over and gets wasted, while not enough soil harms plant growth.
The amount of soil you need depends on two things: the height of your raised garden bed and the plants’ root depth. Taking a look at the height of your raised garden, a common choice is around 11”.
With a height of 11”, your raised garden bed has plenty of room to drain properly. That starts you off needing around a foot of gardening soil. This amount increases depending on how many square feet you have in your garden bed.
On a similar note, you can make your garden a bit taller to ease back pain or a bit shorter for your own preference. If you choose to do this, you’re going to have to adjust your soil amount accordingly.
Moving on to the factor of root depth, roots are the main reason behind the soil you need for your raised garden bed. Your plant needs to have enough room underneath to spread out and collect its food. How deep of a root depth you have depends on what you’re growing.
Some vegetables, like lettuce, have very short roots. They don’t need to go very far down the soil to get the strength and nutrients they need. In this case, you don’t need to have a lot of soil in your raised garden to accommodate them.
On the other hand, plants like tomatoes need lots of room to spread out their roots. So, you’re going to need more soil for them to grow properly. The bottom line is, the amount of soil your garden needs depends on how you design your garden and what you grow in it.
How to Prepare Soil for Raised Bed Vegetable Garden?
Once you’ve figured out what you want to plant in your raised garden, it’s time to get the land ready. Any good gardener knows that it’s very rare for a part of the land to be ready for planting at any given moment.
The first step in planting is almost always fixing up the land and making it ideal for plant growth.
Prepare the soil: With raised garden beds, you have a bed of land that’s separated from other parts of the soil horizontally. But vertically, the soil is still on top of the native soil. That means that your plants are able to access the soil underneath the raised bed.
For this reason, gardeners who want raised beds need to prepare the soil underneath. It’s better to do this step before you set up the perimeters for your bed boundaries.
Start by digging the soil about two feet deep in. Turning over the soil helps you understand what you’re working with. You can see if the land underneath is dry or if you have roots from other plants already in place.
You can then adjust your soil accordingly by adding fertilizer or removing any roots or rocks in the way. This process of digging beforehand gives your plants the best chance to grow healthy.
Perfect the soil: After you’ve dug through and removed any obstructions, it’s time to perfect that soil. If you noticed that the soil was very heavy and difficult to move, you can add peat moss to lighten it. Similarly, if the pH level for that soil is off, take this time to adjust it.
Once your soil is good for planting, go ahead and build your bed on top. Fill up the inside with your starter soil, and allow a few inches of free space on top.
When you have about a week left until you add the plants, top it off with fertilizer and compost. You want to add these a few days before you plant, so they don’t wash away or go too deep into the soil. After these steps, you’re ready to get started with your raised garden bed!
5 Tips for Improving Your Raised Bed Garden Soil
Starting any new gardening task takes time, especially for new gardeners. Perfecting the craft of gardening takes a lot of hard work and dedication.
But these tips should ease some of your worries and provide you a little guidance along the way.
1. Know What You’re Working With
The best way to create the best soil is to understand what you have in front of you. Learn as much as you can about the soil you currently have.
Check out the pH levels, test the soil for density, and figure out if there are intruding roots in it. Learning about your soil tells you how you can help growth and improvement.
Once you know what it’s missing, follow through with it consistently. You can’t change soil with one helping of fertilizer, so consistency is the key to getting results.
2. Organic Fertilizer is the Way to Go
Speaking of fertilizer, many people think that any old fertilizer is fine. While it’s true that you can use any fertilizer, the best fertilizer is the organic type.
Chemical fertilizers do provide results, as you can see a change in your soil within weeks. But they do nothing to help the soil around your plants, and in a raised garden, the soil is key.
Organic fertilizers not only help the plants, but they help the soil around them as well. If you’re trying to build up your raised garden soil, organic fertilizer takes care of both.
3. Figure Out Your Soil’s Past
This tip is especially important for new gardeners. Oftentimes, you buy a bag of soil thinking that it’s going to help your garden bloom instantly, but to no avail. Then, you learn that you actually got a soil that needs to be fortified, aka dirt.
Anyone can sell dirt, and dirt is not what your raised garden needs to grow. Ask your seller where the soil came from before buying it. When you know where it’s been, you can understand what it needs to grow better.
With this information, you can add nutrients to that dirt to turn it into a soil your plants thrive in. But without it, it’s just plain dirt.
4. Compost is Cool
One thing that every gardener should get in to is composting. Composting is the way to turn any dirt into hospitable soil for your plants.
When it comes to composting, people either think it’s rocket science or a glorified trash can. It’s actually neither. Composting is about collecting biodegradable leftovers and turning them into live fertilizers.
People think that composted material smells bad or is difficult to manage, but not if you do it correctly. If that’s an issue, you can buy bins made specifically for compost to help enclose the smell. Composted material is treasure for your plants, the soil, and the ecosystem around it all.
5. Everyone Needs a Refresher
Everyone needs a little pick-me-up every now and then, including your soil! During the first years of using a raised garden bed, you might notice that it’s doing very well. That’s because your soil has a lot of new nutrients and other goodies to give at the time.
But once you grow the plants for that year, your soil is pretty much running on empty. You need to revitalize it with the help of some extra soil inputs. These could be fertilizer spikes, compost, or leaf mold.
Work these into the soil by turning over the old soil and gradually adding one of these components. Finish it off with a good helping of fertilizer, and you’re well on your way to great new planting year.
As with anything good in life, you need patience when you get into gardening. When you understand what your soil needs, you can add or take away things to create the best raised bed soil. Understanding your garden takes time, but once you master it, you can create a wonderland.
Why You Should Make Your Own Organic Soil?
Many people think that you can fill a raised bed with straight up dirt, or compost. Sure you could do this, but you don’t have the necessary ingredients in the soil to nourish your plants, retain moisture and to allow for proper drainage.
The recipe I am sharing today is the ONLY recipe that I have ever used and I have been very successful with my gardens!
All the essential nutrients are in the soil recipe and you most likely will never need to feed your plants or fertilize them because all the nutrients are right in the soil. Pretty cool right? In addition to this, I rarely have any problems with pest or any diseases harming the plants.
So yes, I will say up front that there are a few extra steps in creating the perfect soil, but it is worth the effort! Once you create this soil, your plants will do amazing and there will be very little maintenance to keeping this soil for years to come.
The Art of Gardening and Square Foot Gardening
So as I stated above, I have always used this recipe for garden soil in my gardens. It has never failed me so why change it right. I adapted this recipe slightly from the Mel Bartholomew book:
All New Square Foot Gardening
If you do not have this book, I highly recommend it! It is hands down one of the best gardening book that I have ever bought!
The Ultimate Bundle ~ A Great Garden Resource
In addition to this book, I also learned so much from The Art of Gardening: Building Your Soil. This book taught me a whole lot about soil and how it is the KEY to a successful garden!
I strongly believe that a quality soil recipe makes all the difference in a garden. Lets figure out how much soil you will need for your garden beds.
How Much Organic Garden Soil Do I Need To Make?
The first step is to figure out how much garden soil you need for your raised bed. You can easily calculate your soil needs with a soil calculator here:
Calculate Your Soil Needs With a Soil Calculator
Remember, compost, peat moss and vermiculite (the 3 components of this recipe) are measured in cubic feet or cubic yards, so you will be given both of those numbers with the calculations.
In my example (shown below), I am calculating a 4’x4′ (or 48″x48″) raised bed that is 6″ deep.
As you can see in the picture above, for my 4’x4′ bed that is 6″ deep, I will need 8 cubic feet of soil. The number below that (cubic yards) is usually beneficial for filling larger beds and for buying soil for bulk delivery.
So now we know how much soil we need to fill this raised bed. We will need this information for the recipe.
How To Make Organic Garden Soil For Raised Beds
There are 3 components that make up good soil. In the picture below you can see the differences of the 3 ingredients.
For this recipe you will need the following:
- 1/3 peat moss (measured by cubic ft or cubic yd) ~ Peat moss helps lighten the soil up a bit and makes the soil more water retentive. Compost can be very dense and by adding peat moss, you lighten up the density which helps the root systems of the plants to grow more evenly throughout the soil. This is instrumental in creating a healthy plant.
- 1/3 coarse vermiculite (measured by cubic ft or cubic yd) ~ Vermiculite is mica rocks that have been minded out of the ground and then have been heated to explode into very little pieces. These little rocks have a lot of nooks and crannies where the water can be absorbed. It also allows the soil to drain properly and is very important to include in this soil. If you can not find vermiculite, you can use perlite, but I prefer vermiculite…it is a much better product to work with. *(See additional note below)
- 1/3 compost (measured by cubic ft or cubic yd)~ Compost provides the essential nutrients for your plants to grow and flourish. Compost is food for your plants. We buy ours from a local source in bulk, it is so much cheaper. We got a whole pick up truck full for right around $40! Compost is expensive by the bag, so if you are filling a large bed, or even a smaller bed, it is wise to buy it from a local source.
*Note ~ Because I know it will be brought up, I am going to mention that many years ago there was a plant in Montana that was shut down because their vermiculite had traces of asbestos. Now this is very serious, yes and every now and then the story pops up again, like it is new and just happened. This was a very serious situation indeed, but as a result vermiculite is screened for asbestos and is monitored on every level and also has a asbestos free stamp on the bags. It is safe to use.
Back To Our Example Project
So lets use my example above to show you how this works. I needed 8 cubic feet of soil as shown in the soil calculator above. 8 cubic feet divided by 3 (we need 1/3 of each for the recipe) will give us 2.66 cubic feet of each.
So we will need for my example:
- 2.66 cubic ft peat moss
- 2.66 cubic ft vermiculite
- 2.66 cubic ft compost
Now follow the 3 easy steps below and you now know how to make garden soil for raised beds! Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be exact measurements, just eyeball it.
Now follow these easy 3 steps
Now that you have all the ingredients, follow these 3 easy steps and you will know how to make garden soil for raised beds!
- Put your 3 components into a tarp and mix them together really well with a rake or shovel. You might want to wear a mask because the vermiculite and peat moss can be dusty, and it is best to wear a mask. Once everything is well mixed, shovel the mixture into your raised bed.
- Next step is to water your new garden soil. Do not skip this step. This can be dusty and this will help eliminate the dust and weigh the soil down a bit.
- The final step is to allow the soil to settle for 2 weeks. The soil will settle about 1-2 inches below where you originally piled the soil in so be sure to add a little extra to compensate for settling.
What If You Bought In Bulk & Can’t Measure Your Soil?
So as I mentioned above, I buy my compost in bulk and use it throughout the season. If you bought your compost in bulk and are unable to measure it by cubic feet or cubic yards, you can measure your formula this way.
- 3 parts compost
- 1 part peat moss
- 1 part vermiculite
Remember, compost is very heavy and weighs differently in volume, so this is why the formula is different. If you are able, it is best to follow the recipe by cubic feet or cubic yards, but if you can not, then follow this method.
I just used a large green bucket and filled it up 3 times with compost, poured it into my raised bed, and then added 1 large green bucket of peat moss and 1 large green bucket of vermiculite. Then I just mixed it up right in my raised bed. Worked beautifully!
Here Is The Finished Product
Here is what my 4’x4′ square foot gardening bed looks like when it is done and ready to go! I had a few plants already growing when I shot this photo, but you can get an idea what it looks like with the soil in the bed.
You have chosen to garden in raised beds. The frames are set and it is time to fill them with fertile soil that will serve as a good growing medium for your garden plants.
One option is to buy a good grade of commercial soil, but that can easily break the bank. The best solution is to make your own.
You night want to start by taking a soil sample from the garden. Have it tested at a reputable laboratory. It is best to choose one close to your location. The test results can help determine what you need to add to the soil to improve it. Fertile, well-drained soil will provide a much better growing medium than that of tightly compacted dirt that lacks nutrients.
Fertile Soil Recipe
What constitutes fertile, healthy soil? It includes a mixture of minerals, organic matter, air and water. The organic matter can be either plant or animal material such as manure that has gone through the composting process. It is called humus when completely decomposed.
The ideal soil sample has a granular, crumbly structure that provides good drainage. The loose soil will also allow oxygen and carbon dioxide to flow freely within the dirt.
A basic recipe for making your own soil is to use equal volumes of peat moss, coarse vermiculite and compost. A garden bed that is 4-feet by 4-feet square will need eight cubic feet of the mixture. This mixture will be high in nutrients and should promote good plant growth. The compost helps keep the soil loose. The vermiculite and peat moss help retain water.
Adding Organic Matter for Rich, Fertile Soil
If for some reason you cannot make your own soil, add organic matter to your dirt to promote fertility. Organic matter such as composted plant and animal products such as manure helps the soil retain nutrients that the garden plants need to grow. Adding organic matter to sandy soil aids in water retention. Adding organic matter to clay soil helps to loosen the dirt.
Adding mulch to the raised garden beds is another means of adding organic matter. However, you may not realize the benefits (other than helping to eliminate weeds) right away, but the mulch will break down over time and serve as a good source of additional organic matter.
Making your own compost is easy to do and it helps keep vegetable, fruit and yard waste out of our landfills. It can be as simple as collecting the trash bags your neighbors fill with leaves. Poke a few holes in the bags close to the top and bottom. This allows oxygen and water to enter the bags and allows carbon dioxide and excess water to escape. Add a shovel of garden soil to the bags. Add a little water to the bags. Mix by rolling the bag on the ground. It is a good idea to roll the bags every few weeks. Voila. Come spring, you’ll have a source of fertile nutrients you can add to your raised garden beds.
Want more information about raised bed gardening?
Read Cornell Cooperative Extension’s guide to raised bed gardening.
This Gardening in Small Spaces article from the University of Kentucky’s Cooperative Extension Program is a good source of information for those who garden in small areas.
Visit the NRCS website to learn how worms can help keep your garden soil fertile.
Visit Organic Gardening Magazine’s website for information on making your own compost.
Raised garden beds are fairly easy to construct, even easier to maintain, and offer myriad benefits for your garden (and you)! Here’s how to build a raised garden bed in your backyard, as well as some advice on using the right wood and soil.
Raised beds are an easy way to get into gardening! Whether you purchase a kit or build your own, there are many great reasons for using raised bed gardening.
What Is a Raised Garden Bed?
A raised garden bed (or simply “raised bed”) is a large planting container that sits aboveground and is filled with soil and plants. It is a box with no bottom or top—a frame, really—that is placed in a sunny spot and filled with good-quality soil—to become a source of pride and pleasure, and a centerpiece of the garden.
Why Should I Build a Raised Garden Bed?
Raised beds have many benefits. Here are a few reasons why you should consider using one:
- Garden chores are made easier and more comfortable thanks to less bending and kneeling. Save your knees and back from the strain and pain of tending the garden!
- Productivity of plants is improved due to better drainage and deeper rooting.
- Raised beds are ideal for small spaces where a conventional row garden might be too wild and unwieldy. Raised beds help to keep things organized and in check.
- Planting in a raised bed gives you full control over soil quality and content, which is especially important in areas where the existing soil is rocky, nutrient-poor, or riddled with weeds.
- Raised beds allow for a longer growing season, since you can work the soil more quickly in the spring in frost-hardened regions, or convert the bed into a cold frame in the fall.
- Fewer weeds are seen in raised beds thanks to the bed being elevated away from surrounding weeds and being filled with disease- and weed-free soil.
- Raised beds allow for easier square-foot gardening and companion planting.
Learn more about the benefits of raised garden beds.
Choosing the Right Wood for Raised Beds
Many people are concerned about the safety of their wood frame. First, rest assured that CCA pressure-treated wood is banned, as it was known to leach arsenic. To ensure that the wood lasts, there are several options:
- Regular pressure-treated lumber sold today has a mixture of chemicals applied to prevent the moist soil and weather from rotting it. Although pressure-treated wood is certified as safe for organic growing, some people have reservations about using it, and there are various eco-friendly alternatives.
- More expensive woods, such as cedar, contain natural oils which prevent rotting and make them much more durable. They are more expensive to buy, but they will last many more years.
- Choosing thicker boards can make the wood last longer. For example, 2-inch-thick locally sourced larch should last 10 years, even without treatment.
- Avoid using railroad ties, as they may be treated with creosote, which is toxic.
Alternatives to wood include concrete blocks or bricks. However, keep in mind that concrete will increase the soil pH over time, and you will have to amend the soil accordingly to grow your best garden.
How Big Should Your Raised Bed Be?
- First, you need a location that has level ground and gets the right amount of sunlight (6 to 8 hours per day). This should narrow down your options a bit.
- In terms of bed size, 4 feet is a common width. Lumber is often cut in 4-foot increments, and you also want to be able to access the garden without stepping into the bed. Making the bed too wide will make it difficult to reach the middle, which makes weeding and harvesting a pain.
- Length isn’t as important. Typical plots are often 4 feet wide by 8 feet long or 4 feet wide by 12 feet long. Make your bed as long as you like or build multiple raised beds for different crops.
- The depth of the bed can vary, but 6 inches of soil should be the minimum. Most garden plants need at least 6 to 12 inches for their roots, so 12 inches is ideal.
Preparing the Site for a Raised Bed
- Before you establish the bed, break up and loosen the soil underneath with a garden fork so that it’s not compacted. Go about 6 to 8 inches deep. For improved rooting, some gardeners like to remove the top layer (about a spade’s depth), dig down another layer, and then return the top layer and mix the soil layers together.
- If you’re planning to put your raised bed in a space currently occupied by a lawn, lay down a sheet of cardboard, a tarp, or a piece of landscaping fabric to kill off the grass first. After about six weeks (or less, depending on the weather), the grass should be dead and will be much easier to remove.
Building a Raised Garden Bed
- To support timber beds, place wooden stakes at every corner (and every few feet for longer beds). Place on the inside of the bed so that the stakes are less visible.
- Drive the stakes about 60% (2 feet) into the ground and leave the rest of the stakes exposed aboveground.
- Ensure that the stakes are level so that they’re in the ground at the same height, or you’ll have uneven beds.
- Set the lowest boards a couple inches below ground level. Check that they are level.
- Use galvanized nails (or screws) to fix the boards to the stakes.
- Add any additional rows of boards, fixing them to the stakes, too.
Check out our video on how to build raised beds for your vegetables:
Soil for Raised Garden Beds
The soil blend that you put into your raised bed is its most important ingredient. More gardens fail or falter due to poor soil than almost anything else.
- Fill the beds with a mix of topsoil, compost, and other organic material, such as manure, to give your plants a nutrient-rich environment (see recipes below). Learn more about soil amendments and preparing soil for planting.
- Note that the soil in a raised bed will dry out more quickly. During the spring and fall, this is fine, but during the summer, add straw, mulch, or hay on top of the soil to help it retain moisture.
- Frequent watering will be critical with raised beds, especially in the early stages of plant growth. Otherwise, raised beds need little maintenance.
Raised Bed Soil Recipe
For a 4×8-foot raised bed:
- 4 bags (2 cubic feet each) topsoil (Note: Avoid using topsoil from your yard, as it may contain weeds and pests.)
- 2 pails (3 cubic feet each) peat moss
- 2 bags (2–3 cubic feet each) compost or composted cow manure
- 2-inch layer of shredded leaves or grass clippings (grass clippings should be herbicide- and fertilizer-free)
Makes enough for a depth of about 9 inches.
Square-foot gardening in a raised bed. Photo by Oregon State University/Wikimedia Commons.
Planning a Raised Bed Garden
To plan out the perfect garden for your space, try the Almanac Garden Planner! In minutes, you can create a garden plan right on your computer.
The Garden Planner has a “Raised Garden Bed” feature. It also has a specific square-foot gardening (SFG) feature, which involves dividing the bed into squares to make the organization of your garden a lot simpler (see photo above).
Which ever garden you select, the Garden Planner will show you the number of crops that fit in each space so you don’t waste seed or overcrowd. There’s even a companion planting tool so you plant crops that thrive together and avoid plants that inhibit each other.
Test out our Garden Planner with a free 7-day trial—plenty of time to plan your first garden! If you enjoy the Garden Planner, we hope you’ll subscribe. Otherwise, this is ample time to play around and give it a go!
- Get more tips on building a raised garden bed and planning for it.
- If this article sparks your interest in raised beds, then we’ll show you how to do it. See our video, “How to Use Raised Beds in Your Garden.”
- Learn more about companion planting, which can vastly improve the health and yield of your garden. See our Companion Planting Guide and our Companion Planting Chart for Vegetables.
- Check out our Plant Growing Guides for advice on growing all of the most popular vegetables, fruit, herbs, and flowers.
Have you ever thought about building your own raised garden bed? Or do you have one already? Tell us about it below!
Raised bed gardening is an excellent way to garden in a small space. The quality of soil for raised beds gives gardeners one reason they produce bumper crops.
If you experience trouble stooping, bending and kneeling, raised bed gardens allow for easy care. You can set up your raised garden bed at a height most comfortable for you.
With complete control over the raised bed soil mix, you can mix the soil you want instead of using regular potting soil and put it in place for the best results.
You control the type of soil used in for the raised garden beds
Let’s be clear…
No specific combination of ingredients will make the perfect all around raised garden soil. What you put into your soil depends very much upon what you plan to plant and your local climate.
Various plants require different pH levels. For example, blueberries need a more acidic soil.
Additionally, gear the soil texture toward your local weather conditions. For example if you live in a very arid and dry climate, you will want a soil mix that will retain moisture with good capillary action.
On the other hand, if you live in a very rainy and damp area you will want to create soil for a raised garden bed allowing for good drainage.
Soil Mixture For Raised Beds Begins With A Good Basic Soil Mix
One good way to start “building” out fertile soil… begins by making a 50-50 mix of high-quality compost and screened topsoil.
When you blend the compost and screened topsoil together thoroughly, you will have a nice basic soil mixture you can amend to suit your specific climate and plant needs.
For a more quickly draining blend of compost, create a three-part mix. For this coarse mixture, combine equal parts of:
- Horticultural Coarse Vermiculite
- Blended Compost
- Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss
As with the 50-50 mix, combine the horticultural vermiculite, compost, and peat moss thoroughly for best results.
Coconut coir fiber makes a great alternative for peat. Additionally, to get a wide variety of plant nutrients for your organic garden source compost from at least five different places.
What Soil To Put In Raised Beds – Why Not Just Buy Compost?
If you rely only on bagged compost from the garden center, you’re likely to get a scarcity of organic nutrients. There is really no reason to purchase compost. It is easy to make your own compost at home.
A well-seasoned compost rich with organic matter, made from the yard, garden, grass clippings, and kitchen scraps provides a wealth of nutrients for organic gardening.
If you also keep chickens, equines, rabbits and/or goats you have an excellent source of rich and nourishing compost. If you do not personally keep any livestock, you should look for a local organic farm or gardeners supply where you can purchase some natural compost.
Raised Garden Bed Soil Does Not Have To Be Deep
When you have created this kind of high quality raised bed soil mix, you don’t need to spread it very thickly. This highly nourishing fertile mixture will support a wide variety of plants even if it is only six inches deep.
Be sure to line the bottom of your raised bed with thick layers of cardboard (sheet mulching) and/or newspaper or landscaping fabric to prevent plant roots from contacting native soil and to prevent weeds from growing up into your rich soil.
When Should You Amend Soil Used In Your Raised Bed Garden?
Early in the spring each year, till your soil mixture for raised beds and replenish it. Remember a friable garden soil is airy, soft and light.
You should be able to poke your finger into your soil easily all the way up to your topmost knuckle. If you find your soil is hard and unyielding, take steps to till it, amend it and lighten it.
Experts recommend tilling the native soil first before starting to add soil for raised bed gardens.
How To Amend Raised Beds Soil Mixture
Both the 50-50 mix and the three-part mix provide basic building blocks for good soil in the garden. Once you have this in place, you can tweak and amend the soil to suit your particular plant choices.
One good addition to well-balanced garden soils is organic, slow-release organic fertilizer. Working this into the soil one or two times a year (e.g. early in the spring and/or late in the fall) will help boost the nutritional value of your soil.
After application, apply a generous layer of mulch or compost to hold the nutrients and moisture into the soil.
A few other good specialty amendments include:
- Shredded bark, wood chips and/or sawdust breaks down slowly and helps improve the structure of your soil.
- Both used tea bags and grounds and composting coffee grinds also provide all of the NPK components and are an excellent addition to your compost heap.
- Seaweed provides a good balance of nitrogen, potassium and calcium; however it is especially rich in potassium.
- Alfalfa meal is an excellent source of nitrogen, and it also provides some micronutrients, potassium and phosphorus.
- Sulfur helps increase the acidity of your soil and makes it easier for your plants to absorb calcium from the soil.
- Dolomite lime helps increase the alkalinity of the soil and adds a good dose of magnesium and calcium.
- Aged manure (a minimum of six months) provides a wealth of minerals and of nitrogen.
- Wood ash in garden soils decrease the acidity of the soil and add a variety of nutrients including potassium.
- You may wish to use perlite instead of vermiculite because perlite holds moisture better.
- Green sand releases micronutrients and potassium in a slow released fashion.
- Rock phosphate releases micronutrients and phosphorus in a slow manner.
- Bone meal provides some nitrogen and a good dose of phosphorus.
- Gypsum is a good addition to make a well-drained soil.
- Soybean meal releases nitrogen in a slow and steady manner.
- Epsom salts provide a nice dose provide a nice dose of sulfur and magnesium.
- Blood meal provides a healthy dose of nitrogen.
- Learn More About Using Organic Soil Amendments to Improve Your Soil
Create Soil For Your Raised Garden Bed To Suit Your Purpose
The texture of your raised bed soil mixture should be in line with your goals. For example, if you are sowing seeds directly into your bed, you will want to have a finer texture of soil. Luckily you don’t have to change out all of the soil in the bed to do this.
Begin with your basic 50-50 or three-part mix and then top it off with a finer textured soil. A good soil for seed starting should be spongy, moist and rich. You can accomplish this by creating a combination of finely sifted, blended compost and peat moss as your seed starting medium.
Mulch Is Very Important!
Remember, with fairly shallow soil, garden mulch plays an important role. It helps hold in moisture and protects the raised garden beds soil from damaging rays of the sun. It also helps prevent invasion by weeds.
Once your seedlings have started, thin them out to allow the hardiest to take hold. Mulch around them to hold nutrients and moisture into the soil to help them thrive.
You may be surprised to know that modern gardeners believe that a couple of inches of pure compost make the best mulch. It performs all of the protective and moisture holding functions of bark mulch and adds nourishment to the soil.
The Right Soil For Raised Bed Gardening Produces Bumper Crops!
Raise bed gardening is a great choice for small spaces. Properly maintained raised gardens can produce four times the amount of crops or vegetables as a traditional garden patch using compost alone.
This is great for home vegetable growers with very small yards or even patio and balcony type garden settings. When you put forth the effort to create light, airy, highly nutritious soil mix for your raised-bed gardening project, you can expect to enjoy abundant success.