How to Fill Your Raised Garden Beds
So you have finally decided to start a veggie garden and landed on the raised garden beds after researching about it's benefits. Now the real challenge comes around how to fill them up cheap without negatively impacting the soil quality. After all, who would want their plants to be lifeless just because of the cheap soil we had to put in it.
So my goal in this article is to share one simple method for filling up your beds which not only is cost efficient but also good for the plants. To give an idea, our beds were 6.5'X3.5'X17" (the ones from vego garden) and the cost for filling them up was less than $100 per bed.
We will walk you through the Hügelkultur method in this article. Hügelkultur is an excellent way to recycle any wooden materials and organic debris. This method generally improves soil fertility, helps with drainage, and enhances moisture retention. Also, depending on the state of the wood used, these will last for anywhere between 8-15 years.
Don't just take my word for it but see for yourself in the pictures of our garden below. Or even better, try this method and find out yourself in your own garden. That being said, let's get into the details of it.
Materials Needed and Procedure:
1 - Cardboard boxes from your Amazon packages or moving boxes: This is your base layer and if you plan on putting the beds directly on top of your lawn these are must to ensure that grass dies down. Use at least 2-3 layers of it.
2 - Wooden logs (preferably almost rotted ones): The key ingredient of Hügelkultur. Collect enough so that you can fill your beds like 30-40% with these logs. You can get these from Offerup or Facebook Marketplace for free as most of us don't have them handy.
3 - Twigs from your trees, dead plants, and leaves: These are to fill up the gaps in between the wooden logs. If you happen to have some extra leaves, dump them in but make sure that you are filling no more than 50% of your bed with these.
4 - Cheap topsoil: Plants don't need the rich soil the whole bed in the beginning so plan on filling your bed till 70-80% with cheap soil like topsoil we can get in Lowes. Costs only $2.50 per cubit feet of soil.
5 - Rich quality soil and compost: Finally the real meat of it. The remaining workable area within your bed, add the mix of rich quality soil and compost. We used Miracle Grow raised garden bed soil from Costco but pick the ones that are available to you. Purchasing it in bulk from local garden stores is better option but since we did our setup in iterations we didn't chose the bulk option.
Just keep in mind that soil settles down over time so make sure that you fill up a bit extra than what your planned/intended height for the soil level is. Additionally it's beneficial to add some organic mulch like sugarcane mulch or straw mulch on top of your final soil layer.
Just filling up the beds and planting the veggies is not enough for a steady supply of healthy plants and veggies. You need to keep adding the organic matter like manure, compost, bone meal, blood meal etc. to the beds on a regular basis (monthly is working fine for us). Also, keep rotating the crops so that soil doesn't become like a dead soil.
If you don't have luxury of your county providing free compost, our article for the no nonsense composting can be found here.
For organic fertilizer, some options are: fertilizer, fertilizer sticks, blood meal, bone meal, and last but not the least - black cow we can get from Lowes. Adding composted manure is one of the best option for plants.
On a side note, let us know what method worked for you if you already are an experienced gardener in the comments below for all of us to learn the new tip.
That's all from me and hope this was helpful to you. Peace !!!