How to restart a dormant raised garden bed?

Alan J. August
by Alan J. August

This past year, we moved into our new house in Door County, WI. The yard includes a raised garden bed, about 8’ wide by 16’ long by 16” deep. It’s been covered with ground cloth, so nothing has grown in it for at least 3 years, or more. What should be done to prepare this garden to grow flowers and veggies? BTW, I am not an experienced gardener. Oddly, I have a lot of gardening equipment, e.g., roatary tiller, rakes, shovels, etc.


Alan (with ambition icon )

  6 answers
  • LIRR1926 LIRR1926 on Nov 11, 2018

    A couple of possible approache--the methodolgical, get the soil tested, do the necessary ammendments, consider the sun light and etc. What I would do would be to uncover it, fork it loose a bit and plant a variety of vegetables purchased in those small pots at the garden center and see what grows well.

    Have fun with it.

    • Alan J. August Alan J. August on Nov 11, 2018

      Thank you for your reply. By just reading on a cursory basis regarding the initial planting of a raised garden bed, you mentioned the same things. It seems the most important initial task is to have the soil tested...


  • Hi Alan. It probably needs a good tilling, so your rotary tiller will get a work-out! The soil probably needs to be amended - compost and/or manure usually work. You may want to have your soil tested to determine any other nutrients it may need. Happy Gardening!

    • Alan J. August Alan J. August on Nov 11, 2018

      Thank you very much for your reply. You’ve given me confidence in that I was think along the same items, namely, tilling, compost/manure, and testing the soil.


  • Tinyshoes Tinyshoes on Nov 11, 2018

    Alan...We just had our first hard freeze last night so I will probably do no more planting until last freeze next year. Good luck and maybe you will get another answer from someone for your area...I'm in Tennessee!

  • Alan J. August Alan J. August on Nov 11, 2018

    Thanks for your reply. We’ve had not only our first series of hard freezes, we’ve already had 5 inches of snow...! All in the last few days. This has caught many of us by surprise. I need to work on some of my equipment, changing oil, gasoline, etc., on several small gasoline powered engines. Luckily, I have a heated garage.


  • Oliva Oliva on Nov 11, 2018

    For the raised beds, you'll need potting soil, which will drain more readily than top soil (unless the topsoil was amended with sufficient quantities of composted cow manure, sphagnum peat moss, perlite, and coarse sand, if warranted).

    Amend the ground level soil if needed, by digging or deeply tilling in amendments. To save the aggravation of unnecessary weeding, cover the amended areas with heavy black plastic, held down tith ricks or multiple landscape pins. The sun's rays will cook and weed seeds to inhibit germination of same.

    In early Spring, you can remove plastic, till lightly, and plant.

    If the area is prone to deer, rabit, groundhog damage, you'll need to fence the area or intersperse plantings with French marigolds, alliums, etc. Which animals tend to avoid.

  • Alan J. August Alan J. August on Nov 11, 2018

    Thank you very much for your reply. My son, who has become a veggie gardener over the past several years, mentioned much of thsame you did. He includes all of what you said in his raised beds, resulting with what he describes as an excellent soil composition. The results for him are amazing!