Common Mistakes To Make:
The biggest mistake is when you fill your raised garden bed with only potting soil or compost. The earth will drain too quickly, washing away nutrients and the plants will starve.
Never add organic material like straw, grass, or wood chips into the soil. They work great for the top of the soil to use as a mulch to keep in moisture, but never as an amendment into the ground.
Never add organic material like chicken, sheep, goat, horse, or cow manure into your garden. It must be composted first, as in, it must no longer look like poop anymore or have poop-like shapes.
The Best Soil Combination:
The goal should be to create an ecosystem for plants which is well aerated yet retains moisture and nutrients, feeds the roots, encourages worms and other microbial activity, and is, in essence, a living, breathing soil.
The best soil combination for raised garden beds should have two parts:
- A good base or growing medium.
- High-quality amendments to feed your plants.
50% of your growing medium should be compost.
You can use animal-based compost (composted manure from chicken, goat, horse, or cow) or plant-based compost (composted wood chips, grass clippings, straw, leaves, kitchen scraps).
Both work well.
25% of your growing medium should be coconut coir.
Coconut coir is the natural fibre obtained from the husk of coconuts. It’s sustainable as opposed to the commonly used peat moss or sphagnum moss, which takes thousands of years to redevelop. The purpose of coconut coir is to keep the soil aerated while retaining moisture and nutrients. Coconut coir also has a neutral pH, unlike peat or sphagnum, which is more acidic.
25% of your growing medium should be sand.
Sand offers aeration and drainage. Use coarse sand if you can get it and stay away from beach or dune sand.
Adding amendments will ensure your plants have plenty of food to grow into nutrient-rich plants:
Azomite is essentially rock dust; It’s got lots of minerals and trace elements that you want back in your garden. Mineral depletion in our soil today is a real thing. Add it to your ground, and your garden will thank you with high-yield produce!
- Worm Castings
Worm castings are essentially worm poop. It is a great soil enricher and food for your plants because it not only provides a good source of nitrogen, it also attracts more worms into your garden. Worms equal a healthy garden.
- Bone Meal
Bone meal is a mixture of finely and coarsely ground animal bones and slaughterhouse waste products. Organic gardeners use it to add phosphorus to garden soil.
The calcium infusion from bone meal helps plants develop strong and healthy cells and seeds. It also strengthens the stems and aids in the development of new shoots in perennial crops and shrubs. The calcium in the bone meal can also help prevent common problems in vegetables such as blossom-end rot in crops like tomatoes, eggplant and peppers.
How to fill up a Raised Garden Bed:
Do you need a ground cover?
Yes, if you have moles or place the raised garden bed on grass. Otherwise, don’t bother.
If there is a danger of moles, place the raised bed on some chicken wire. This will prevent moles from digging their way into your box.
If your raised bed is to be on grass, put down some cardboard first to prevent grass roots from growing in the box.
Try not to use a plastic sheet, as desired earthworms will not get into your raised bed.
- Fill up 2/3 with compost.
- Add a layer of coconut coir.
- Add more compost.
- Add worm castings, rock dust, bone meal, and coconut coir.
- Repeat step 3 and 4 until the raised bed is full.
- Plant your herb and veggie seedlings and water well.