Soil for new raised bed

soeasytocraft Posts: 237 ✭✭✭
edited November 2020 in Composting & Soil Fertility

Wondering what people use for soil when building a new raised bed? We have bed ready to go and no access to organic soil. Please share your ideas. Thanks


  • soeasytocraft
    soeasytocraft Posts: 237 ✭✭✭

    Well! Just started watching Kevin's talk on the summit after posting this. He did answer this somewhat. Still look forward to your experiences and ideas. 😀

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,390 admin

    I am in a rural area so we get well composted manure from old corral sites or pastures. This year I am getting the scrapings out of an old barn. Check out farms/ranches in your area. Some areas have community composting at waste management sites and will sell or give away the resulting compost. Start your own compost bin. Very important for keeping up the fertility of any soil you do get.

    I haven't had the chance to watch this presentation yet but it might have some suggestions for you. Brook Le Van – Regenerative Biodynamic Farming. This is probably a very good one as well. David the Good – Compost: The Movie

    When you are ready to build another bed, there is a method of raised bed construction called huglekultur. I have never tried it, but it might be something for you to consider just getting started.

  • jmachledt
    jmachledt Posts: 26 ✭✭✭

    We just built one yesterday and shrunk our compost pile (which was pretty large) and used the compost as the base and put in peatmoss to 'fluff' up the soil and will add a large bag a organic soil - if you have a bed that is too big to fill right away, you can add non-treated wood and other 'fillers' to the bottom and soil on top. Depending on the depth of your bed and what you're planning to grow.

  • dimck421
    dimck421 Posts: 203 ✭✭✭

    My last beds, I put small twigs, well almost anything on the bottom, knowing they will turn to compost, then I and 17 day compost if filled the rest of the way with. I direct seeded snaps and squash. Neither are very picky, but both are doing awesome!

  • EarlKelly
    EarlKelly Posts: 230 ✭✭✭

    Have just finished moving my chicken pen area. Have a fenced in area to provide a safe area for my chickens. Been in the same spot for fifteen years. Always put in my grass clippings for my ladies to scratch around in. Nothing used in my lawn unless organic. Scrapped up the area to smooth it out. The dirt is black with all the organic matter. Put it in a pile and using it for the top layer of my raised beds. About a foot of the nicest dirt I have seen. Now have plenty for my raised beds. Could find someone local that is cleaning up their chicken area, just another thought. Good luck.

  • silvertipgrizz
    silvertipgrizz Posts: 1,990 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @soeasytocraft My fav manure to use is chicken. The first time I used it without anyone to guide me, I burnt the plants I put it around because it was too needed to age or diluted with other soil, or offset about 4 foot which is what I did the follow year and that was when I realized what I had done the year before. That was many years ago, chicken still my fav when aged/not hot enough to damage...


  • seeker.nancy - Central Texas
    seeker.nancy - Central Texas Posts: 795 ✭✭✭✭

    At my previous home I had a small farm/ranch/whatever and the chicken pen was in the garden, made for an easy place to toss garden waste and the girls loved it. Mustang grape (wild) started growing on one corner so I let it grow the length of the chicken pen; anyone who knows this plant know it's mission is to take over the world lol. But it produced the absolute biggest Mustang grapes I have ever seen, and bigger than almost any grape of any variety that I have seen. Lots of work keeping it in check but oh so worth it!

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 1,937 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Yes, well aged chicken manure is our favorite. Though we intend to do tall raised beds so will be incorporating hugelculture as well. This year will be our first garden since we moved here. At our last place we had a 50x50 garden. Folks would make a point of taking their walks and walking their dogs down our (dead end) street to come see our garden. Especially after word spread that I was growing corn in our zone 3b Alaska garden. This is my first year to ever have a small greenhouse. Everything has always been in very small cold frames or outdoors.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,390 admin

    @vickeym Good on you for figuring out a way to grow corn so far north!

  • EarlKelly
    EarlKelly Posts: 230 ✭✭✭

    @vickeym would love to see how your current garden is doing and your greenhouse. Especially in the great northern frontier where you have so many challenges. The best of luck with your garden.

  • maimover
    maimover Posts: 359 ✭✭✭

    I keep a giant sized leaf/compost pile and have been utilizing that this year as well as my community has composter soil that we’ve hauled in. Add in worm castings, bio char, and whatever other nutrients mixed with my compost and theirs. Things seem to be growing good so far. In the garden bed we laid newspaper, cardboard, and covered with mushroom compost...

    You can’t see the cabbages on the end but they are incredible. The stalks on the mustard greens are at least 2 1/2” around; greens anyone? You can see the bamboo stakes here also

  • ben stacy
    ben stacy Posts: 5 ✭✭✭

    Many people make this mistake of building their raised beds and after the fact try to find a way to fill them. I Myself made the same mistake when I first started years ago.

    I used a mixture of different types of Kellogg garden soils then to establish my first raised garden bed. It worked alright but I found myself having to add rock dust, fertilizer and other minerals to the mix to supplement it. It got pretty costly before it was over with.

    Since my first bed I have made it a point to keep ongoing compost piles for garden use. I since have created a special garden soil mix using the compost along with peat moss and worm castings from my own worm composting bins that have given me some pretty amazing growing results.

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 1,937 ✭✭✭✭✭

    EarlKelly Garden is still in the making. We can't put stuff outside here till the first of June. I am mixing my own soil by hand which takes longer than I hoped. Planting out larger stuff in 5 gallon grow bags takes a lot more soil than I had anticipated. lol Our weather has gone crazy, so I am a little happy I have not gotten much out yet. Lots of hard rains, we don't normally get what I consider a "hard" rain here. But we have had hail 3 times in the last week and the first time was about half the size of a dime. Also not common here. Broke off two of my Sweetie Pie Pumpkin plants between the rain, hail and wind. Luckily I had several. Have not even gotten to the area I will have my beds in yet. Just trying to transplant the stuff I have started fast enough to keep it alive.

  • EarlKelly
    EarlKelly Posts: 230 ✭✭✭

    @vickeym sounds like you have lots of challenges just to get your garden started. Always love to watch you tube videos of problems you guys face in Alaska to get anything to grow. Hope everything straightens out so you can get your garden in. Best of luck and keep us posted.

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 1,937 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited June 2020
  • JodieDownUnder
    JodieDownUnder Posts: 1,481 admin

    I love horse manure! I've basically had horses around me all my life, so manure, old hay, stable bedding etc. It's a huge source and horses are just about everywhere! I don't have any horses in my life presently but I have plenty of friends that do. I just drive to the paddock, take my "poo rake" and fill the back of my RTV. I bring it back home and dump it in a pile next to my compost. I layer my compost with whatever I can get my hands on. Turns out just fine. People have questioned me re chemicals/drugs that owners give their horses eg, drench, antibiotics, pelleted feed etc. When a compost pile is working well the heat kills any nasties, no worries.

  • MissPatricia
    MissPatricia Posts: 308 ✭✭✭

    I started making my own soil mix for raised beds this year. Yes, it is expensive. I make a small batch because that is all I can handle, but it does not go very far. I actually ordered a truckload of sand, but that stuff is heavy so I am planning to get another load and have it dumped near my garden so I don't have to cart it so far. The first pile is near my other "garden" so it is fine. I am using Lynn Gillepsie's method except for putting plastic down. I am putting newspaper or cardboard down to smother weeds per Charles Dowding. If I ever get more wood chips, I'll put them on top of all my beds. Next up, I want to start vermicomposting (not sure of term) to supercharge my garden.