What Type of Soil is Right for My Raised Garden Beds?

Thinking of putting in a raised bed garden this spring? Low maintenance and high yield make this a perfect choice, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience or time to devote to growing backyard veggies, but you still want to try.

As compared to row gardens, raised beds are better for a few good reasons. First, the raised beds hold just the right amount of water to deliver to your plant roots – with less runoff, and the need to water less frequently. Second, raised bed gardens maintain more temperate conditions. In the summer, they keep your plants’ roots cooler. In winter, they insulate the soil from extreme temperatures and cold wind. Finally, raised bed gardens encourage the roots of your plants to grown down rather than spreading wide in search of water and nutrients. This means the plants grow up rather than out, allowing you to space them closer together and fit into a smaller area.

As far as garden soil, the best approach for a raised bed garden is to set up ideal planting conditions from the get-go. The highest quality soil means you can do the work up front, then reap the rewards for several seasons, with minimal maintenance. It also means you can enjoy gardening the organic way. When you grow in nutrient-rich soil and engage companion planting, you eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers and harmful sprays. This is so beneficial to your family’s health in the long run.

Where to get great garden soil?

We recommend searching close to home for sources of organic soil. If you’re getting ready to have a raised bed garden installed, the first thing you should do is call a few local nurseries to see if they offer organic soil delivery service. Stop in and visit, and ask to take a look at the different types of soil. If it’s dark, rich, and full of organic matter, you’re good to go.

How much organic soil should I fill into my newly installed garden beds?

For a garden frame that’s 12 feet by 4 feet, you’ll need about a yard and a half of soil. So if you plan to build 4 garden beds of this size, then order approximately 6 yards of soil. For more specifics on soil calculations, read this. Before you install the garden frames, schedule soil delivery from your local nursery in advance. You must first clear a sunny area of your yard, planning ahead to ensure there will be enough space to walk a path between your garden beds.

What pH should my garden soil be?

With soil pH, the lower the number, the higher the acid content. Limestone increases the acidity of your soil, and sulfur makes it more alkaline. Common vegetables prefer slight acidity but not as much as plants like azaleas and roses. To grow garden vegetables, the pH of your soil should be about 6.5, which is slightly more acidic than alkaline, 7 being the midpoint. Organic soil must contain an even balance of green and brown matter to ensure the correct pH for growing vegetables. So if you plan to augment your purchased garden soil with homemade compost, add both grass clippings (green matter) and leaf mulch (brown matter) to your compost pile, along with biodegradables from your kitchen.

Read Part 2: Buying Good Garden Soil in Hunterdon, NJ – More Tips