image: squash in a raised bed

Dry - Warm - Cool - Pest-free - Productive - Practical ... All Are Possible

image: sunflowers This part is the most difficult. Filling the bed with a good growing medium is time consuming, physically demanding, often logistically frustrating, and it can be expensive.

However, it's something you do only once, save for adding amendments as the seasons pass. It pays tremendous dividends to do it well, and is a prime example of putting in the work and money on the front side to reap the benefits and enjoy the ease of it later.

Don't skimp.

If you don't have fertile garden soil you're willing to scoop and move to the bed, you'll need to purchase dirt either from a soil delivery company or in bags from a garden center. Amendments are necessary, as is a gravel layer.


1 4x8 sheet of 6-mil black plastic to prevent weeds
2 Approximately 3" of coarse gravel for drainage
3 4x8 piece of landscape fabric
4 Soil mix - enough to fill the box.

Do not use crusher run gravel, but a coarser grade.

The landscape fabric prevents the soil from sifting down and clogging the gravel drainage.

Fill the box full. The soil will settle with watering.

Amend all soils with compost and replenish each season for fertility.

Sandy soils will need less or no added sand. Clay soils will need more peat and sand to prevent compacting. You should test for PH and amend accordingly. This mixture will vary according to each situation. It is important to work a lot of organic matter into your soil.

Mix all your chosen components. Use a wheel barrow or Garden Way cart, or mix directly in the box with a shovel. If your soil is lumpy or cloddy, screen it with a rake and a homemade shifter.

Image: screening soil into the bed
image: screening soil into the bed


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