Ideal Compost
Ideal Compost

Tips for Raised Bed Gardeners

1. What makes soil in raised beds tricky is that since it sits above the level of the surrounding ground, it acts like a wick, drying out relatively quickly, especially around the edges of the bed.

2. Watering the right amount is crucial in raised bed gardening.  Too much water can drown plants, cutting off their access to soil nutrients.  But with too little water, microbial life in the soil goes dormant.   It can take many weeks to rebuild the “microbial bridge” between the plant and the nutrients in the soil.  In the meantime the plant will suffer.  Be careful not to water too much or too little.

3. Our Soil Blend has a balanced combination of nutrients in it that should give your plants a good start.  If they seem to be lagging in growth well into the season, we recommend fish emulsion to get them going again. 

4. Mulching with 2” of chopped leaves is a good way to both shade out weeds and retain moisture in the soil.

5. Perhaps an even better option is to plant a low-growing cover crop of something like white clover once your main crops are well established.   Clip it back if it starts to shade out your main crops.  The advantage of a low cover crop over chopped leaves is that you are covering the bed with growing plants which put the sun’s energy into the soil.  It benefits the plant and helps build the soil.  Soil with plants in it, the soil becomes richer.  Soil with actively growing plants becomes richer and more productive, while bare soil is in a deteriorating state. 

6. As the gardening season winds down, plant a cover crop in your raised bed.  Oats are a good option because they will winter-kill.   Seed the oats by early September.  Rye can be sown right into mid-October for a good stand, but they don’t winter-kill and will re-sprout in the spring.  It will then take several tillings to eradicate rye before you can plant again.

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