Growing vegetables in raised garden beds is a great way to save your back from having to bend down to ground level for harvesting. However, proper raised bed soil management can make or break your success!
Get the best information for the perfect raised garden bed soil mixture here!
While we grow most of our food directly in the ground with the no-weeding, no-watering Back to Eden gardening method, we also have a few raised garden beds where we grow things like lettuce and carrots. This makes harvesting really easy!
But proper soil management for raised garden beds is very important to the harvest. Here are a few tips for making the most of your raised bed garden!
Tips for Healthy Raised Garden Bed Soil Management
A healthy and well maintained soil is vital in the growth of a plant. A raised bed soil provides a space and more root reach for the plant. This way of soil arrangement also gives more drainage for the plants as it provides a loose proportion of sand suitable for flowing of water.
You can create a raised bed soil approximately from 6 inches to waist deep. This provides another growing area especially in clogged soils or rocky soils.
If you use garden soil for a raised bed, it becomes hard after some time. As an alternative to this, a good soil mixture of equity materials suitable for a raised bed is suitable for most plants.
A good raised bed soil is an easy task but requires attention to details especially when your new at gardening. This benefits you by reaping the fruits of your labor with quality produce, and your plant’s health in the long run.
Clogging is one of the enemies of plants. It will not survive with proper drainage in particular with long term plants.
Ideal mixture for Raised Garden Beds
In order to reap the benefits of a raised bed soil, one must strictly follow a following guide on how to properly ratio your sand in a raised bed soil.
The general requirements for an ideal raised bed mixtures are as follows:
The topsoil requires healthy soil. Make sure that when you are using soil from your garden, it should be of good quality; no roots and stones and no dead plants mixed with the soil. If you live in the Perth AU area you can also get a good quality of soil at Soil Yourself.
Using heavy clay soil is an absolute crime when supplying the topsoil with it as it is easily clogged and not suitable for drainage.
A well rotted fecal matter from your local farm or garden compost and peat should be mixed with your mixture. It is better to use organic matter than use harmful fertilizers if you are planning to use the soil for a long term!
The sand is a vital part of your mixture. It provides an excellent way for your plant’s drainage rather than heavy clay soil.
Calculate Soil Requirements
A raised bed mixture that sizes up to four feet wide and eight feet long space, and one foot deep requires a 32 cubic feet of mixture.
Mixing one part topsoil, one part of your organic matter, and one part of sand, and filling it to the raised bed with approximately two to three inches deep promote drainage.
If you are planning to grow a plant that requires a long time to reach maturation, you will need a mixture of bulky materials, sand, and other mixtures with specific ratios.
Always remember that when growing shrubs and woody ornamental plants, do not, at all cost, use soil prone to compaction in the long run.
An example of a free draining soil mixture that is suitable for long term plants is made up of pine bark mulch, which degrades slowly, mixed with sand, fertilizer and compost, and limestone.
Mix six parts of your pine bark mulch with one part sand and one part of your compost, then add a ½ cup of dolomitic limestone and ¾ cup slow-release with 18-6-12 fertilizer, or nitrogen rich fertilizer, per cubic foot of raised bed.
Care for your plant’s root
A free-draining raised bed soil that contains sad, vermiculite, and organic compost benefits root crops. Soils that contain heavy clay soil or stony soil root crops like salsify can develop misshapen and forked roots.
But in a free-draining and a fine soil mix in your raised bed soil, crops grow straight and can even extend up to the base of your mixture. Mixing one part of sand, one part of vermiculite, and one part of organic matter can result in salsify.
This soil mixture drains water at a fast rate, so watering your plant daily during the hot season is a must.
Soil for Tall Raised Garden Beds
The taller your soil is, the higher the amount of free draining materials should be used. Fill your base specifically with sand and gravel. A mixture of soil that has a height of more than 18 inches drains poorly.
The abundance of sand and gravel spread on the base prior to the rest of your soil mixture is essential for draining. With an 18 inches tall bed, it requires two inches of sand or gravel in its bed. In ratio, one part sand is for eight parts of soil mixture.
Spread the sand evenly in the base using a garden fork.
Note from Victoria: We have our raised garden beds about 18 inches of the ground, which makes for easy harvesting! Just make sure that you aren't planting TALL plants in beds that high (like okra) because you'll have to climb into the bed to harvest after a few months!
This guide to the perfect soil mixture for raised garden beds is essential for your gardening knowledge. A good gardener takes care not only of his plants but also of the soil for long term uses.
A good raised bed soil with a proper ratio of sand provides better growth for your plants and it’s produce. So make sure you dig that hole right and fill it with proper mixtures!
Make sure you're ready for your harvest with these essential tips! And if you're looking for great food preservation options, here are all our favorite food preservation methods!
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About the Author:
Daniel Lummis is a marketing consultant with Soil Yourself, a wholesale soil and sand supplier based in Perth, Australia. After work in the office, he loves riding his motorcycle through the outback and spending his free time in the outdoors.