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What soil should i use in a raised bed garden?

Updated: Jun 13

One of the advantages of raised bed gardens is that it's easier to maintain good quality soil. Once you have your raised bed established, you can simply amend the soil at the beginning of each season to ensure optimal growing conditions. If you are just starting out with a new raised bed, you'll need quite a bit of soil to get started. But rather than spend a lot of money on expensive bagged  "raised bed garden soil", it's pretty easy to come up with a good mix on your own.

 

You definitely don't want to fill the entire bed with cheap all-purpose top soil. This is generally very low quality, dense, may contain debris, and won't have much in the way of nutrients. However, it's fine to include premium top soil, which is still very inexpensive, as a filler along with other ingredients. 

 

Peat moss is another important ingredient in your raised bed soil mix. It is fairly inexpensive and makes a great addition to any garden soil, as it helps retain moisture, provides good drainage, and improves airflow around the plant roots. If you don't have peat moss, vermiculite, perlite, and coco coir serve the same function. 

Compost is the key! This is rich organic matter and is an important component that will hold moisture and provide nutrients to your plants. If you can make your own compost pile, it will be free, but if not, it is worth the investment to buy it. If you can find it in bulk, that is the best option, but organic bagged compost works great too. Other ingredients you might want to add in with the compost include worm castings, chicken manure, kelp meal, or shredded wood mulch. Each new season, you will want to add a good amount of compost to refresh the nutrients in your soil.

A good ratio for your raised bed gardens soil is 40% top soil, 20% peat moss, and 40% compost, with some good organic fertilizer mixed in. Not sure how much soil you need? Try this handy calculator to find out.

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