Raised garden beds are a superior base for growing vegetables and flowers. These are especially important if the existing soil in your garden is not well-suited to gardening. Raised beds allow you to amend and improve soil quality; they also have better draining capabilities, which is very important in a garden built on soil that has high-clay content. Also, raised bed gardening allows you to plant earlier, since a raised bed warms sooner than a ground-level plot. The key to getting all the benefits of raised bed gardening is to obtain the perfect raised garden soil mix to ensure healthy plants. (Your local gardening supplies store carries pre-made raised garden soil mix. If you would rather skip making your own, you can simply buy some raised garden soil mix and use it for your beds.)
Raised Garden Soil Mix
1. You will need to dig about eight to ten inches down your existing raised beds and remove the topsoil. Place these on a tap near one side of your raised bed. After the ten inches of the topsoil has been removed, loosen the exposed layer with shovel or a hoe.
2. Replace the topsoil you have set aside on the tarp. Put in a five-inch layer of mature compost on top. If your garden soil is heavy clay, add an additional three-inch layer of peat moss.
3. Use a shovel or a hoe to mix all of the layers together.
4. Mix in some 10-10-10 complete fertilizer; use 1 pound for every 100 square feet of raised bed. If you need to amend your raised garden soil mix for additional nutrition, add an additional layer of mature compost about two to three inches deep.
After a year or two, the soil in your raised garden bed will need little tilling or turning, so that your spring garden preparations is bound to be easier. However, take note that raised garden soil mix tend to dry out faster than ground-level beds, so make sure that you apply some mulch after planting to preserve the moisture in the soil. If you will be tilling the soil in your garden beds, make sure that you always mix the soil layers afterwards. Unmixed soil layers can impede water drainage.
Experienced gardeners also warn against tilling any weeds back into the garden soil. You need to pull weeds up, roots included. If you take the lazy route and simply till them back into your raised beds, you will find yourself with thick weed growth, as you are also putting back the seeds in the weed plant back into the bed.