SOIL for Your Raised Bed Vegetable Garden – An Easy HOW-TO Guide

Friday Mar 3, 2017

Usually with a raised bed vegetable garden, the soil will require a little investment.  It’s one of those things that you are not going to want to ”skimp” on.  You’re going to want to make sure you get started off on the right foot.  When talking about soil, you are going to want to make sure that you’re starting off with “sterile” soil – that is soil that is free from bugs and weed/grass seeds.    And it’s really easy to do.  I’m going to show you two ways to get started with getting soil for your raised bed vegetable garden –

  1. #1 the first method will be fast, simple, and easy but will require some $ investment on your part
  2. #2 the second method will be slower, still simple and easy but will require little to no $ investment on your part

So let’s start with method #1.  If you are starting off with a small vegetable garden and would like to get your seeds and/or plants into the ground and growing as soon as possible, I highly recommend a couple of different methods that will get your garden started off on the right foot.  Each of these methods will require some $ investment – one a little more than the other – but you’ll be able to immediately get your seeds and plants in the ground and be assured of clean, sterile and high soil that you will only need to “amend” to continue gardening in the future.

I recommend purchasing Miracle-Gro® All Purpose Garden Soil to fill your raised bed if you have a small raised bed.  This soil is sterile and ready to go.  Each time you harvest and then “re-plant”, you will need to amend the soil by adding a scoop of organic compost where you are going to plant the seed or vegetable seedling.  Each of the large bags contain 2 cubic feet of soil – this will cover an area 2 ft wide x 2 ft long x 6 inches deep.   So, if you had a 4′x4′ raised bed, you would need 4 bags to fill your garden (if your intended depth is 6 inches of soil).  If you use this method of filling your raised bed with soil, you will start with a good, sterile and enriched soil that will just require organic compost amendments in the future.  Miracle-Gro also makes a “raised bed” garden soil as well – but I haven’t seen that around the area that I live in.

My second recommendation would be to create your garden soil by using a mixture of vermiculite, cow manure and mushroom compost, and sphagnum peat moss (recipe is 1/3 by volume of each material).   This involves a little more time to acquire all the materials and mix them before filling your garden bed.   But once again, you’ll be starting with a sterile soil that is rich in nutrients to grow your vegetables.   As with the 1st recommendation above, you’ll need to continue to amend the soil with compost each time you replant.

Now on to method #2.  This method will take a good deal longer to achieve but you’ll  be able to use items that you normally throw away to create amazing soil for your garden.  Create a composite bin from old pallets.  Fill your compost bin with “browns” and “greens”.   Browns are typically your carbon type materials like fallens leaves, cardboard, etc.  Greens are items like vegetable scraps, green lawn clippings, coffee grounds, etc.  You want to achieve a ratio of 1:1 browns to greens.  It will take several months for your compost pile to heat up and transform into rich soil.  So if you have some time to plan, then you can actually create your own garden soil to fill your vegetable beds.

After filling your raised vegetable beds with soil, you’ll want to provide some type of “mulch” to cover the soil.  This will help to hold the moisture in the soil (due to evaporation) and keep your soil cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.  Another reason I prefer to mulch my raised beds is to keep the soil from splashing on the underside leaves of my vegetable plants when I water or when it rains.

There are also other methods of filling your raised garden bed with soil – i.e. lasagna gardening, etc.  I’d love to hear from your – what have you used to build your garden soil in your raised beds?

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