Asked on Apr 3, 2013

Raised Garden Bed Dirt?

PegDebbie BorthwickBrandi Hegerty


I am going to install a couple of raised garden beds this weekend. Do most of you buy the dirt, or till up the area and add to it? I know that one is probably more costly then the other, but I want to do what works best. Any suggestions would be awesome. Thanks Hometalk
8 answers
  • Tilling the soil only fluffs it up and mixes it, it does not fill the raised bed at all. You need to find quality pre-screened top soil to fill the raised box. I would suggest when your putting that soil in that you layer it with mulch etc then simply turn it over a few times or till it to mix the extra additives to increase the overall quality of the soil for what your planning to plant.

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Apr 4, 2013

    One of the great advantages of a raised bed is that it gives you control over your soil. If you have decent soil to start with, and want to go to the work of double-digging it so that you have good, deep, loose soil, that's certainly an option. But it may be easier to bring it in. Make sure to work in plenty of good organic material, along with a soil loosener like vermiculite. And no matter what soil you start with, I would do a soil test, which is the best way to figure out what your soil needs to produce optimal results.

  • The French Gardener
    on Apr 4, 2013

    There is some parameters to consider. How tall will be your raised bed? If you do common herbs and salads a 6" rise will be fine. If you plan to grow vegetable such as carrot or potato, a 12" or up will be required. Evidently, you will have to fill the volume. That will be the trick, what PH do you want and do you have irrigation? Some plant need an acidic soil, adding extra sphagnum will lower PH into your mix and improve water retention. If your soil, is to porous you will have to water frequently, and if your existing soil drain very well adding raised bed might bring some problems. Do you plan to grow organically? To be short exposure, micro climate, method of cultivation and existing soil will determine your choice for the import of soil or component for it. The number one advice, you will feed the soil, not the plant.

  • Sarah Nave
    on Apr 5, 2013

    When we moved into our place I was SO excited to see the already built in raised bed in the back. Its about 6" tall. I tilled all the soil that was already there and added my own organic compost to it right before planting. My veggie plants have doubeld in size since planting and I cant wait to see what they will produce!

  • Jeanette S
    on Apr 5, 2013

    Till you say? Nay, nay I say! I don't even till flower beds. Hubby cuts off the corner of the top soil bag and follows the line I have drawn out. I then plant. I have gotten yard of the month for years doing this. "Don't dig unless you are going after a stump" is my motto! Buy the dirt! P.S. My brother-in-law just lays down bags of dirt, punches in a couple of holes and plants his plants! Built a frame out of PVC about 5' tall over the garden, punched holes and slits in the pipe, taped a water hose to it and has a watering system. He had a ball experimenting with all this. If he had fun and had fresh veggies, that's real gardening!

  • Brandi Hegerty
    on Apr 5, 2013

    +Jeanette S Your my kind a girl! Easy is my motto too! Happy Gardening!

  • Debbie Borthwick
    on Apr 5, 2013

    I have to agree with @Jeanette S, don't ever expose dormant weed seeds and have more problems than you start with. And like @Douglas Hunt said, test your soil. That's so important.

  • Peg
    on Apr 5, 2013

    I actually could not till the soil when making my raised beds for vegies at my new property. My soil is contaminated with decades of black walnuts. I could not grow tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and other plants that are vulnerable to the toxic "juglone". It took me 2 years to figure out what was wrong as I have been gardening for decades successfully. It also affects other bush and flowers that I'm trying to grow. I bought a load of soil and mixed it with peat moss and aged manure. The plants took off last summer, I couldn't keep up with the amount of tomatoes and peppers!

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