This is one of those times were I am glad I know someone with a big truck. This little garden patch along the side of our house has always been a pretty good producer of veggies during the summer months. But over the last few years its performance started to wane. Clogged with roots and crabgrass weeds, we decided to totally redo the garden and build some raised garden beds.
The advantages of a raised garden bed system is two-fold. The beds allow you to bring in new soil to a tired garden without it becoming contaminated by the tired and weed infested dirt you are already using. Plus garden beds are space-saving, allowing you to plant a little more densely. When complete, they also look very nice.
First off in our journey is the construction of the beds. There are plenty of plans online on how to build your own raised garden beds. My beds are based on these plans. You can go with just about any shape and dimension for a bed that fits your space. Initially we were planning to build 4×4 foot beds, but as the snow melted and we had a chance to survey the garden spot, I decided that a 3×8 foot bed was a better choice. Our beds are made out of 2×6 construction lumber with 4×4 posts in the corner for support. Everything is screwed together with 3 1/2 inch coated deck screws. Don’t use treated lumber for your beds, the treatment can leach into the soil. Untreated boards will give you many years of service and by the time they rot, you’ll want to replace the soil anyways.
As for the soil, Hsu Growing Supply is the natural choice for quality soils. We’ve used their soil blends in the the past while re-landscaping the flower beds, so I know it will work great for the garden. As I have a friend with a big truck, a trip to their facility on Hwy W at the top of Brokaw hill meant I didn’t have to pay a delivery fee, only buy my friend a 6 pack.
After first stopping at the office to purchase the soil, we headed to the loading area. Hsu’s recommended the Garden Blend which is a mix of quality topsoil, Hsu Leaf Compost, and Bovine Basics composted cow manure. This mixture is ideal for raised garden beds as the leaf compost keeps things nice and light while the composted manure gives extra nutrients and nitrogen to the growing plants.
So how much soil will we need? My two beds required 1 1/2 yards. Hsu Growing Supply has a handy calculator that will tell you how much soil you’ll need for your project, be it a garden bed, lawn, landscaping project. If you end up with a little extra, that’s ok. I’m sure you have holes and low spots around the house that could use filling.
After planting and a good watering, our tomatoes and peppers are happy in their new home. We’re also waiting for the radishes, lettuce and spinach to germinate. In raised beds, the early crops can be mixed with the later ones, so by the time the tomatoes overshadow things, the lettuce will be long gone.
We’ll keep you posted on how our garden progresses this summer. Subscribe to my weekly newsletter and follow RelyLocal Wausau on Facebook for updates on the garden beds. Did you put in a new garden this spring? Feel free to tell us about it in the comments below.