Over this past weekend, the hubs and I were beyond busy. The long anticipated delivery of our garden soil finally arrived! Around 12:30 pm Saturday afternoon, we start hearing the truck reversing beeping noise. We shot up and ran outside, and there it was! I was so giddy with joy! With the weather so nice lately, I have been so eager to get started on the garden. It has been soooo difficult to hold back and patiently wait for soil to arrive and then to keep waiting until the weather is right for planting.
So back to Saturday. I did a lot a research on soil for the gardens. I knew I wanted the soil to be a mixture of top soil, potting soil, and compost. Last year we bought bags and bags and bags and made our own mix. That was fine and worked really well, but it was very expensive. This year with 13 raised beds, I wanted something more economical. I knew I wanted the soil to be about 40% top soil, 30% potting/garden soil, and 30% compost. That is the ratio I recommend for you for your beds. Even if you grow in pots or in the ground, this is a good mix to make sure the plants are given enough nutrients.
I found St. Louis Composting, and they have a mix that is specially made for raised beds. It fit within my ratios and had the addition of sand to help with drainage. Sold! We did the math and found we needed about 8 cubic yards of dirt (or about 10,000 pounds). This was A LOT of dirt, but we ended up saving over $200, even with delivery compared to buying a bunch of bags.
The hubs and I spent about 5 hours hauling 8 cubic yards of dirt from the street in front of our house to the backyard and into the many, many raised beds. This was back breaking work, but totally worth it with the money savings. We had two wheelbarrows and just went back and forth, over and over and over again to move all that dirt.
Once all the dirt was in, we covered all the beds with straw and dead leaves. The straw acts as a mulch for the garden beds. You need to mulch your gardens to help with water retention, root protection, and pest protection. I like using straw because it is natural, easy to find, inexpensive, and easy to move around the garden as plants grow. I also like using dead leaves because they are free and a great way to repurpose fallen leaves. Leaf mulch is also a wonderful way to add extra nutrients to the soil as the leaves break down.
Basically, to get your garden beds ready, you need to add your soil and add mulch. The soil blend I like is 40% top soil, 30% potting/garden soil, and 30% compost, but you do what works for you. The same goes for mulch. I like straw and leaves, but you may find something else works better for you. As always, don’t be afraid to try. Even if you fail, you will have learned a way not to do it, and that’s a good thing. Don’t give up, and if you have any questions, please ask away!