I was thrilled to see the raised garden bed my son had made. He wanted something to do, so he researched the “how to’s”, went and bought the wood and put the thing together. With his brother’s help, they carried it to the backyard and finished tightening the screws.
Step one on the road to Florida vegetable gardening was complete.
Now I just needed some dirt! But buying dirt doesn’t mean you will have the good soil needed to grown super veggies.
Most gardeners know that soil makes or breaks the growth of the plantings. Planting directly in the ground means there is at least something there to begin with, but starting with an empty box means building the good soil from scratch.
The Basics For Building Good Soil
Over the years this is what I use to create good, worm-loving dirt that gives a good yield of crops. I’m no expert, so feel free to leave a comment with your recommendations.
1. Loam / soil / organic dirt
2. Compost – store bought and / or homemade
3. Organic Fertilizer
4. Bone Meal (for crop root development)
The location of this raised bed presented a problem when it came to filling it. My son has a truck and was happy to go pick up a load of loam / dirt, but getting it to the wooden box was not going to be easy.
First we filled the bottom of the box with leaves and grass collected in the lawn mower bag. Then I put my black fabric garden bags inside the bottomless box. I also left a few pieces of cardboard in the bottom to help keep the weeds / grass from growing.
For now, I planted vegetables separately in each of the bags, and I ended up buying some new bags, so I could grow more.
Two bags had potatoes – the red ones gave me lots of little red potatoes, with tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, and peas in the others. When the plants had gone by and were no longer producing, I dumped them into the bed, plants and all.
Between using the dirt in the black pots, and adding compost (store bought and home made), I can eventually fill the box with relatively good soil.
Creating good garden dirt is an ongoing process. Banana peels, egg shells, and chopped vegetable scraps can be added directly to the dirt in the box. Soil amendments must be continuously used to replenish the soil.
Hopefully, that will bring earthworms. Soil can’t be called good, unless there is an abundance of worms! This all takes time. The ingredients have to break down over time.
It’s been 6 months since I began to fill my raised bed, and haven’t done much this summer except let the tomatoes, basil, eggplants, and peppers grow wild. The heat keeps me inside, but I do pick a small tomato or pepper every now and then.
The wood has faded to a weathered appearance, and slowly I will be raising the soil level as I empty more of my fabric bags.
Cardinals come to the garden looking for bugs to eat, and they drink and bathe in my makeshift bird bath sitting on the corner. (I can’t get a good photo, so I used this one from Pixabay.)
Little lizards run along the edges and I see the occasional ladybug and butterfly on the plants. Parsley worms have been found on the parsley.
Once the weather cools off enough to work outside, I will dump all my fabric bags out into the box. I will add more grass clippings, along with organic fertilizer, bone meal, and cornmeal (supposedly it brings worms). In other words, I will work on building up the dirt to get it ready for winter planting.
I’ve found that the big wooden box is a good place to store my unused bags and pots for now.
5 thoughts on “Building Good Soil in a Raised Garden Bed”
That’s a wonderful raised bed and your plants look great! I don’t currently have any raised beds but did something similar in Austin. Soil was so darned expensive there, that like you, I made my own. I used my own compost and leaf litter, purchased bags of a variety of composts, and then added rock phosphate and a little clay kitty litter because a fellow gardener told me that the kitty litter would help the soil retain a bit of moisture. Fun post!
Kitty litter for moisture? Interesting. Here, this time of year, we get many storms dropping 2 or 3 inches of rain regularly, but it was really dry over the winter.
Thanks for dropping by!