Many people find that using a raised bed garden can be a good choice if they have heavy soil that is hard to cultivate or they find bending down to ground level difficult. You can fill a raised bed garden with good quality soil that will encourage your plants to grow and you have the advantage that you are in total control of the contents of the raised garden so you will not have to deal with invading pests in the same way as in the open garden. Before you site and plant your raised bed however you need to carefully think where it will go and the soil you will fill it with.
Siting Your Raised Garden
It is extremely important that you place your raised garden in the optimum position as you won’t be able to move it once it is filled. First of all decide if you are going to be growing plants that need sunshine or shade. Then you can observe your garden for one complete day to see areas are in full sun and which are in shade and site your raised garden accordingly. You should also make sure that you can move all the way round the garden and, if you use a wheelchair, that there is enough room for it. You may also need to take wheelbarrows or other equipment to it so make sure there is adequate room on all sides for this. Another thing to consider is the ground around the garden. It may be a good idea to pave it so that it is easy to walk on or to maneuver wheelbarrows etc. around it.
Filling Your Raised Garden
When you have decided on a site and installed your garden you will need to fill it. A good mixture to use is 50% compost and 50% good quality soil. The soil can be purchased at a garden shop or top soil may be available to buy in bulk. However, if you buy topsoil be careful, as there is no guarantee that it will be good quality. Ask at your local garden center for a recommendation to a trusted supplier in your area. It is not so easy to use garden soil as you need rather a lot which will leave a large hole in your garden! In addition garden soil, as well as being of poorer quality in many cases may have pests and weed seeds present. One of the advantages of using a raised bed garden is to use better quality, pest free soil and if you simply transfer soil from your garden you will also transfer all the problems with it!
Once you have your compost and soil then they need to be mixed very well so that you don’t end up with two layers in your raised bed. You should also purchase a soil testing kit to check the level of nutrients and the pH of the soil once it is filled. Once the soil has settled add some organic matter to bulk it up a bit and also add organic mulch regularly to replace any nutrients that are used up by the plants. It is also a good idea to grow some plants in your raised bed through the winter months rather than leaving it empty as this will help to protect the soil. You can dig them into the soil in the Spring when it’s time to set your regular plants to provide some added nutrients.