How to Make Soil for a Raised-Bed Vegetable Garden

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To aid in drainage and to ensure that only the best soil, fertilizer and water go into their vegetables, many home gardeners build raised beds. The idea behind the raised bed is that the vegetables don't have to compete with other plants in your garden for water and nutrients from the soil, lowering stress, so that the veggies can grow to their best. To ensure that the vegetables stay healthy in their secluded area, you must ensure that the soil in the bed is an optimal mix to allow for high nutrient content, and a good balance of excess water drainage and moist texture.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Garden soil
  • Coarse sand
  • Soil conditioner
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Shovel, hoe or rake
  • Measure the depth, width and length of your raised vegetable bed to determine how much soil you will need. If you multiply the three numbers together, you will get a measurement in cubic feet. For example, if your bed is 1 foot deep, 4 feet wide and 6 feet long, you need 24 cubic feet of soil to fill the area.

  • Measure out one part regular gardening soil, one part coarse sand and two parts soil enrichment or conditioner, such as compost, aged manure or peat moss, until you have enough to fill your vegetable bed. You can use one part each of two different conditioners in the mixtures.

  • Mix all the soil ingredients in a wheelbarrow, or pour everything into the bed and till the entire bed to its full depth to mix all the ingredients. You must thoroughly mix all the ingredients in the soil, or certain areas will retain water or dry out.

  • Fill the bed with your soil mixture. Scrape a screed or rake across the top of the soil to completely level out the surface, filling in any gaps. Gaps allow water to pool in certain areas and can lead to root rot or dryness in other areas of the bed.

Tips & Warnings

  • Never use thick clay soil and sand in the same soil mixture. It will create a consistency like concrete that will quickly choke out vegetables.

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