By: Debbie Pinkerton, Gill Garden Center + Landscape Co.
Raised beds are great for veggie, herb, and flower gardening. Benefits include reducing weeds, help with drainage, easy maintenance, and easier on your back. We’ve seen really cool raised beds made from cinder block, rocks, wood, sheet metal, or a combination of materials. What’s most important is what goes in them…that starts with the soil.
Our soil recipe:
For raised beds, we like a blend of bulk sandy loam (or bagged topsoil) and compost. We like using Nature’s Blend Compost which is a mixture of Alfalfa and Humate. Sandy loam is a mix of sand, silt, & clay to create a loam that will drain well. The compost enriches the soil. Together they create an ideal soil for planting. You will use 1 cubic foot bag of Nature’s Blend per 12 sq ft of space. If you make your own compost, this is a good guide for how much to use.
Once you have your soil and compost mixture, add a good organic plant food (we like Medina Growin’ Green) & dried molasses. Mix in, water, and let it rest a few days which encourages soil microbes (like beneficial bacteria and fungi). These microbes will have your soil teeming with life that will help plant roots fight off pests while maintaining growth.
If you have a small raised bed (or don’t have a way to haul bulk sandy loam), another great option is to use a combination of half potting soil & half Gardeners’ Magic soil blend. Both of these come in bags – just dump the bags in, mix together, and plant! The Gardener’s Magic is specially formulated for raised beds, and adding the potting soil makes it even better by improving drainage.
How Much Soil Do You Need?
Here’s the math:
· Length x width x depth in feet = cubic feet. (example: 4’ x 8’ x 1.5’= 48cf)
· Divide by 27 = cubic yards (48cf ÷ 27= 1.777cy)
Other numbers to know:
· Sandy Loam = bulk (sold by cubic yard)
· Nature’s Blend Compost bag = 1cf
· Topsoil 40lb bag = .75cf
· Potting Soil bag = 1cf
· Gardener’s Magic bag = 1.5cf
If this is too much math, we can always help you figure out how much soil you need. If you’re not wanting to DIY, our landscape department can design and build your dream raised beds – just give us a call.