The mixture of soil that we put into our raised bed is of paramount importance, especially if we are using the raised beds for vegetables, however if the raised beds are to be used for either flowers or shrubs then a standard mix of any type soil will suffice. Either way, we need to be vigilant and careful as this is our foundation bed which hopefully, will serve us well for many years to come.
The soil can be purchased locally at various outlets like all good garden centres or building contractors may also have some left over from a recent house project. For a typical raised garden bed, say 4ft x 8ft, this will require a car trailer load, so look around your own locality for options for same. Some contractors will deliver the soil for a small fee, if we have no other means of transport. So therefore the importance of raised bed soil is something that needs looking at, with a view to getting a good return from our vegetable harvest.
Soil for vegetables:
Great care needs to be observed here when laying out the soil mixture for vegetable raised beds, as we have just mentioned and we say this for a number of reasons critically, in order to provide healthy veggies for our table. This is a combination that we have been using in the past and has worked well for all types of vegetables. The ratio is 50% -60% topsoil, and the remainder is a combination of well rotted farmyard manure, some peat, some compost and a good organic fertiliser.
Lots of people use bonemeal or fishmeal as a good choice of fertiliser, as this provides most of the nutrients and trace elements required for good wholesome growth. Your local garden centre will advise on what is best to use, this again depends on what types of veg we are thinking of planting. If we had to categorise each vegetable seperately here on this forum, we would need an encyclopedia or perhaps on online ebook, which would take some time to go through. Generally most vegetables will grow in average to good soil, providing we are continuously enriching with compost or organic fertiliser.
Soil for flowers and shrubs:
A standard mixture works well for these, ie, a good grade topsoil plus maybe some organic material from our own compost heap will be sufficient here. Sand is often added to some raised beds where the soil is considered heavy or of a clay texture, this in turn will loosen the soil and allows air to flow through and will give us better drainage, better aeration and overall improved enriched conditions.
When both the flower and vegetable gardens are established, our biggest concern is the watering issue. We need to be very watchful to ensure that the raised bed soil does not become parched, especially if we are in high summer and we are experiencing a dry spell. Some shrubs like, Rhodendrons, Azaleas and Camillia like the lime free soil, so perhaps we need to plant that category of plant in a different raised bed.
Soil maintenance in a raised bed:
Mulching is a great idea for the raised beds as this will suppress weeds and will also prevent moisture loss. If we have our first year completed in the raised bed experience, we will now be much more schooled as to how easy this process has become, compared to the old-style, open plan gardening methods that we used heretofore. What is now required as we face into late fall or early winter is some maintenance and early planning for next year. The best addition to the raised beds at this time of the year is some more farmyard manure and well composted material like decayed leaves. Fork well into the soil and leave same to breakdown over the winter.
Once we get the mixture right for the first year, afterwards it becomes a simple task to repeat, year on year. If we find that some veg or shrubs did not do so well, then it is only a matter of tweaking the mixture here and there, or moving them on to another bed. Trial and error is part of the course sometimes, so with a year or two experience behind us, we will have learned so much and thus, better prepared for the years ahead. As ever, we are social here at buildingraisedbeds.com and if you would like to contact us at any stage in relation to any of the above, you can do so here directly at