Raised bed gardening is a very popular way of gardening nowadays, and it’s really easy to see why.
They make gardens of flowers or food easy to maintain; they can give your yard an orderly look and if you are limited to a paved patio, they might be the only way to grow a garden.
(Mind you, I said a paved patio. If you are on the second floor or higher of an apartment, please don’t try to create a raised bed garden for your balcony; even a small one would be too heavy for the structure, particularly after watering. Stick to smaller containers instead to create your patio garden.)
Another reason raised garden beds are so popular is that they are ecologically sound. In a time when we are seeking to reduce, reuse and keep items out of our local landfills, raised garden beds can be created pretty easily with shipping pallets, which are plentiful. In fact, if you decide to create a garden using pallets, give us a call; we might have some available.
After that, it’s a matter of cutting the pallets into wall sections, fastening them together with screws, lining them with weed fabric (which we can cut to order at Warner’s) and getting the soils and plants in.
Good soil is the single most important ingredient for a good garden. Raised beds give you an immediate advantage over a regular garden, because when you fill your raised bed, you can fill it with a blend of soil that’s superior to the native soil in your yard. Soil that’s loose and rich with nutrients and organic matter will allow the roots of your plants to grow freely, and ensure that they have access to the water and nutrients that they need.
You’ll want to prepare the area where you plan to place your raised garden bed by removing any grass or perennial weeds from the area (in fact, give the yard a good mowing before placing your raised garden bed structure there).
Next, use a garden fork or shovel to loosen the native soil to a depth of six to ten inches; it will improve drainage and moisture retention in the beds.
We recommend a mix of elements for your soil in a raised garden bed. Our “recipe” is:
- 50% mulch or topsoil
- 40% compost (a mix of chicken manure, steer manure and a “green compost” like Warner’s Supreme or Black Gold’s Garden Compost)
- 10% potting soil, preferably with peat most, perlite or vermiculite, which are all thing that help allow for the proper amount of drainage and moisture retention.
In order to purchase the right amount of total soil, a little bit of math is involved:
- Measure the length, width and depth of your planter (we calculate the depth as from the bottom to about two inches from the top)
- Multiply these numbers together to get the volume. So if your bed is five feet long by 4 feet wide and 2 feet deep, that’s 5 x 4 x 2 or 40 cubic feet of soil.
We’re always available to answer any questions you might have about constructing your own raised bed, what soil to put in it and, of course, what plants you should populate it with!
I hope everyone is enjoying their May and getting outside for some sun and the fun of gardening.