Raised Gardening Beds


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  • LindseyD

    Alright, I need to hear from those of you who have raised beds.

    My hubby finished our boxes over the weekend. We’ve got three of them, 4’x8′. They are in the best part of the yard for sun. The seedlings are ordered and should be here by mid-April. We have been building our compost for about a month, but there’s no way we’ll have enough to fill the beds.

    • What are the best components to use for building our soil since we can’t use our own compost just yet?
    • What successes and failures have you experienced with raised beds?
    • Do you plant things in rows, or use more of a square-foot gardening approach?

    Doug, I hear you’re an avid gardener….help?

    Thanks to all who respond to my desperate, novice pleas for help.




    If you are needing soil to fill the raised beds, organic potting soil mixed with peat moss is a good start, but it can be quite expensive.  If you can get some rabbit droppings (manure), it can be added directly to the soil and is an excellent organic fertilizer.  Rabbit droppings can be used directly without composting in beds where you are growing plants that produce a fruit or vegetable that are not in direct contact with the soil. 

    Another option is to purchase a load of compost if you can find a good source of organic compost in your area.  Then, when your own compost is ready, you can use it on top.  It does take a LOT of compost; we usually use our compost as a mulch on top to suppress weeds, hold in moisture, and add nutrients. 

    We have had huge gardens in rows, done the traditional way, as well as beds of intensive gardening.  We have had success both ways, but the intensive gardening in double-dug beds using compost on top is much easier.  We didn’t have to fight weeds all year and production was excellent.  Intensive gardening, such as the square-foot gardening method, does require very healthy soil. 

    An excellent resource is “Let’s Get Growing” by Crow Miller.  My husband read every book on organic gardening that our library had several years ago (plus some that we got through inter-library loan), and he still says this is his favorite.  I hope this provides some help.  We’re not pros — just walking through the process and learning as we go! I’m looking forward to reading other responses and gaining some information to make our gardening adventure better.


    I was very successful at it in the UK, but here it is more challenging because of clay soil and because of climate and bugs.  I have two raised beds this year, 6 x 3 and 3 x 3.  Most of my garden is flowers but I thought I would give the veg a go this year.  I plan on getting a load of compost in from a supplier sharing cost with a neighbor and then going with that.  I am using the square foot method, and apart from that I am growing in grow bags, pots and in and around my flowers.  I am trying some companion planting to try and keep the bugs at bay, and I have netting to protect the plants from bugs and birds.  I will be growing potato, carrots, parsnip, leek, brussel sprouts, broccoli and salad greens.  I will have 1 tomato plant, I am the only one who eats them 🙁  but will grow raddish, spring onion, chives and a lot of herbs.  I don’t expect large crops as this is my experimental garden for this country.  In the UK I had huge beds and grew 3-4 rows of all the things I mentioned.  I cannot do that here as I don’t have the space, and I want to test the waters before I turn a lot of garden into veg plot.  Linda


    In our location the dump gives away 1 truck load of compost daily to customers.  This is the dump where our weekly trash is taken.  You might want to check there before you spend the money.  It smells really bad at first but by day 3 the smell is gone and our garden grows well. 🙂 We have had luck with both lines and square foot method.  I prefer the sq. ft. method because we can get so much more produce out of a small area.  We live in town on a small california lot.

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