Early spring, March through April, is a great time to plan for how you’ll use garden space for raised bed vegetable gardens. Most regions have adequate dry days to get outside some to do pre-season cleanup and planning, as well as the really rainy days to use for drawing out plans, looking up best choices of tomatoes and other vegetables that you’d like to try this season. You can also get an idea of what materials will cost once you’ve designated space and determined the composition of your raised beds.
HAVE FUN WITH IT
Raised bed planning and planting should be something you can enjoy without stress because the rewards far outweigh any head-scratching along the way. Will you use cedar, recycled non-treated lumber, pallets, concrete blocks, stock tanks or juniper posts? How high do you want them? Consider how much soil you’ll need to fill it. Will you want to use a small tiller to turn the soil each season- if so, don’t make the top of the beds too high. A good middle of the road height is 1.5 to 2.5ft high.
To figure the volume of soil you’ll need to fill it just measure the inside distances. Width x Length x Height = cubic feet. Most raised bed garden soil comes in 1.5 to 3 cubic foot bags. So, if you have a raised bed that is 1.5ft deep x 4ft across x 8ft long, you’ll need 48cu ft of soil. (That’s 16 bags of 3cu ft garden soil) So calculating beforehand is important as it can get expensive if you’re needing to buy soil (16 bags of G&B Raised Bed Mix will run around $192 on sale).
SKETCH IT OUT
Take some time to walk your garden area and plan for watering (drip lines), easy access, and good sunlight throughout the day. Take some photos, make a sketch and start building a list of what you want to plant and the supplies you’ll need to make it happen.
It’s important to just make a rough sketch of your beds, the overall area they’ll go in and answer beforehand the main questions.
- Where is the sunlight throughout the day?
- Will there be easy access to a watering solution or supply for drip lines?
- How much soil will I need? (as mentioned before for calculating budget)
- Will there be enough space for access around the beds?
- Do I want a path material between beds, like hazelnut shells, mulch or wood chips?
- What are “companion” plants that grow well next to each other?
- Are there remedies I should plan for in case of normal pests, fungus or disease?
START SMALL – GROW OVER TIME
When building raised beds, it’s common to want to build everything at once- all in once season. However, in case you go through a season and determine that the location isn’t the best, you need smaller or larger beds, one or two is enough, or other things you’ll discover only from experience, it might be a good idea to plan for your first one or two beds for the first season. You can always build more. Also, this helps spread the “start-up” cost over at least a couple of years. Maintaining your beds after they’ve been built each year is the easy part.
Need to know when to plant your favorite veggies? Read more here
Now you can get to planting and growing. Same steps, built on your plans. Again, have fun, read the tags the come with the plants for depth and spacing, estimated days to harvest, etc. and enjoy the benefits of your labor! Yum!
Our Recommended Recipe for Best Raised Bed Soil Mix
- 2 parts G&B Raised Bed Potting Mix
- 1 parts G&B Harvest Supreme
- 1 parts G&B Purely Compost
- 1 parts Worm Casting
- 1 parts G&B Vegetable Fertilizer
While G&B Raised Bed Soil is formulated to be used right out of the bag, many gardeners use Raised Bed Soil as the base mix and add their own compost and other soil amendments to create their own “recipe!” That’s part of the fun with gardening!