What to fill the raised bed

ybindsAugust 21, 2013


I am planning on building a 4' x 8' X 20" raised bed with untreated pine. Once I build that, I would like to know what to fill that with apart from the soil? Gravel or cardboards or mulch etc., Do I need to layer the bottom with mulch? I thought of landscape fabric, but I read here in the forums not to use it. Do I need to remove the sod? I am not planning on using the garden soil, hence I am building 20" height raised bed. Basically how do I layer the raised bed is the question.

Thanks in advance...

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PKponder TX(7b)

When do you plan on planting in it? That's a lot of material! If you don't need it until spring, I'd suggest a layer of cardboard on the bottom. My St Augustine would be smothered by the cardboard, but if you've got bermuda, you may need to take further measures to kill it first, not sure on that. I would layer chopped fall leaves with grass clippings. You'll need more leaves than clippings. Sprinkle with water after adding each layer, just to add a little moisture. For the next few months, bury all of your veggie and fruit scraps under a layer of leaves. I run over my leaves with the mower on the lawn and bag it. With some luck you will get a bit of lawn with the leaves and that can be added without concern for layering. Pile this higher than your raised bed sides because, as it composts, the level will fall. Keep it moist but not soggy. Prior to planting, mix in many bags of landscaper mix and maybe some bagged topsoil for the mineral content. Topsoil is such such a crap shoot as far as quality, there is no standard or 'recipe' for quality control and I've bought some that was worse than the soil already in my yard that I was trying not to use. You will need some mineral from the soil to augment the compost that you are cooking, but if you have excavated anything and have your own topsoil, it would be a wonderful addition...and free.

If it were mine, that's what I would do. I don't particularly build a structure here, preferring mounds or slightly raised gardens, but that's how I start all of my new gardens.

You'll get other answers, I'm sure :-)

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 10:51PM
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denisew(z8 TX)

The use of cardboard and layers of newspaper with organic material on top is usually enough to smother any grass. A few years ago, I saw Dottie Woodson on tv talking about using the lasagna gardening method to create a new bed. She said to use cardboard and/or thick layers of newspaper (more than 10 layers thick) overlapping as you go. It also helps to have a bucket of water to wet the newspaper so it stays in place when you put it down. Do a small section at a time and put a layer of compost over the newspaper to hold it down as you go until you get the area covered. Then put mulch over the top. Let it sit for a season before planting. I would put the edging down after you get the lasagna gardening area done to prevent the grass from spreading into the new bed. You can put the edging down where the newspaper and compost sticks out a bit. It will all decompose or you can hide it with more compost and the grass will grow into that area, but the edging will hopefully keep it out of the new bed. Good luck!

FYI - I used this method to create new landscape beds and it works great! The newspaper/cardboard can also be used in existing beds to smother weeds - just place it around existing plants and layer it with compost and mulch as above.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 2:41PM
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But then I have few plants already growing under lights, like tomato, eggplant, hot peppers,okra and melon cucumber. Its high time that I need to move them into beds asap. Can't I just layer down as you said and continue with planting this season? And also, I live in San antonio, TX where we have Gardenville where I can buy their rose soil that comes with compost, soil, sand etc., for vegetables. You can find the detailed description about the soil at http://www.garden-ville.com/ So, I am planning to layer with cardboards/new papers, and top with this soil. After planting, cover the rest of the area with mulch. I dug about 2 to 3 inches of sod to put the beds down and planning to cover the outside sides of the box with mulch as well, just to keep the weeds or grass away from growing into the beds. Am I in the right path?? All the above vegetables I mentioned above are mostly of Indian type of vegetables that I bought at http://www.seedsofindia.com.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 3:38PM
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PKponder TX(7b)

I've built beds also with good veggie soil and production was better the second season, but you should be able to grow right now with good soil. It will take a lot :-) I am calculating 5-6 cubic yards.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 9:54AM
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Was busy for the past few weeks in making the beds and filling them with the soil. We (Me and my husband together) made two boxes of 4' x 4' x 12" height boxes and one 4' x 6' x 12" box. Filled with 1 cu. yrd. Gardenville rose soil. That filled all the boxes. All we did was dig out the sod and turn that over and fill on top with the rose soil. I planted all my plants into there but now I am worried how long would it take for those plants to grow and start fruiting. Cause it started to cool down a bit and we had good rains for the past 2 weeks. hopefully I will get atleast one fruit off of each plant before the winter is here.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2013 at 9:27AM
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andbowen(7b/8a DFW TX)

If you left the sod in the bed, even if you turned it over, you might run into some problems. What type of grass do/did you have? Going forward, direct seed in your beds as much as possible. If you start seeds under lights and then try to plant out in August heat, you will shock your plants if you don't harden them off properly. Time to fruit (days to maturity or DTM) should be listed on your seed packs. I find that the DTM on seed packs tends to be optimistic. The best thing you can do is to not over water and give them time. It's a semi-slow process. If temps in the low 40s are in the forecast before you're done harvesting, just cover the plants. Have fun with it, and best of luck!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 11:18PM
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we have bermuda grass I believe. I grew the plants under light and slowly introduced them to the outside weather. So they are doing fine and growing with no issues. I see the stems getting sturdy and thick. Plants are thriving good so far, I am not sure if it is the soil or the rains here, but so far so good. Other plants in containers are also doing good. Will keep posted with the progress here.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 3:36PM
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