Raised Beds: How Often Should I Change the Soil?

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Having a beautiful garden can be rewarding. You get to spend time in nature and have a place to relax and unwind. If you haven’t got green fingers, this can be daunting. That is why we think raised beds are a good option.

Managing a raised bed can be daunting for beginners, as you may be unsure on the soil, whether it is suitable for your plants or whether it is too old and how much needs replacing.

The soil does not need replacing entirely; however, you should amend your raised bed annually. To amend your raised bed, use good compost – this will replace the nutrients, preparing it for the next crop.

Raised beds are the perfect option if you are new to gardening or are limited in space. But how can you make your new bed flourish? Well, let us show you what you can do to make your garden beautiful.

How Often Should I Change the Soil?

You don’t need to replace the soil entirely, though it is recommended to add extra nutrients into your soil.

So, knowing when to make the necessary additions to your soil is the best way to stop your raised bed from becoming poor in quality. There are vital signs that you will notice, which indicate it is time to take action. What are some of the things to keep an eye out for:

  • Your soil is becoming too dry.
  • Your plants are looking yellow.
  • You notice a lot of sand within your soil.
  • Your plants may become diseased.

Another good indicator that your plants need extra nourishment is the plant themselves. Plants give off a lot of singles depending on what they are lacking. An article that explains this entirely can be found over at Gardener’s Path.

Using a soil test is the best way to determine whether your soil lacks any essential nutrients that your plants need to grow.

Even if your raised bed is looking healthy and robust, you still will need to amend the soil annually, as this is by far the best way to keep things looking good.

It is vital to maintain the high quality of the soil by replacing the nutrients that are lost during the growing period of your plants. By understanding the needs of your plants and how to increase the levels of essential nutrients, you are ensuring you do not need to replace the soil in your raised beds fully.

 

Does Raised Bed Soil Go Bad?

Your soil may also lack the proper nutrients that your plants need to be healthy and strong. The soil you use in a raised bed is typically topsoil combined with good compost.

To make the best soil for your plants to flourish, you need to use 70% topsoil and 30% compost. If you feel your soil lacks quality, add 10% potting soil on top to boost the quality and add extra nutrients. You can find the exact measurements using a Compost Calculator.

If you aren’t sure, you can use a soil calculator to build up an accurate picture of your soil and tell you how much to use. If you’re unsure about the calculator, ask your local gardening club or someone with a lot more experience.

You do not need a lot of soil to make a raised bed. Anywhere around eight to twelve inches of soil is enough to make a raised bed productive. Depending on the plants you want to grow will depend on how deep the bed should be. If what you want to grow prefers drier soil, then you can go taller.

Maintaining Your Raised Bed

So, now you have a good base for your raised bed, and you know how to make the best soil for growing your plants; how do you maintain your raised bed?

Replacing the soil takes a lot of time and effort. The most effective way to amend your soil is to use good compost or fertiliser to replace the nutrients and retain the moisture in the soil. By doing this, you are ensuring that the soil will remain high-quality and be useful for years to come.

If you can only get into the garden for a short amount of time, this may be a little too much for you, so keeping the soil healthy is vital. Preventing the soil from getting too old saves a lot of time and effort in the future.  

A crucial part of maintaining a raised bed is to make sure the soil is healthy.

Ways to Keep Your Soil Healthy

Soil is the most important thing to get right when growing plants in a raised bed. So keeping the soil healthy is essential.

There are many ways we can keep the soil healthy and make sure it is the best environment for plants. Let’s look at some ways we can do this:

Reduce the Soil Compacting.

Soil that has been compacted can be difficult for plants, as they struggle to spread their roots to find water and nutrients that they need. One way to avoid soil compacting is to avoid digging when the soil is too wet. Make sure the soil is dry enough not to clump together.

When you avoid compaction, you ensure a lot of space in the plant to establish a good base – this means a better plant.

Make Sure To Cover The Soil.

By making sure the soil is covered and protected, you saving the soil from being damaged by the environment. By covering the soil, you can save it from losing essential nutrients and save it from becoming waterlogged.

A good way of covering your soil is to use plants; these plants are known as ‘cover crops’ and provide excellent cover for your soil and added nutrients and also manage the damage that is done to the soil. The damages that can affect soil can be:

  • Erosion
  • Pests
  • Disease
  • Weeds
  • Water

By covering the soil, you reduce all this damage and significantly improve the quality of your soil—definitely something to consider.

Improve the quality of the soil.

Adding soil amendments is one of the best ways to improve the quality of your soil. The addition of organic materials boosts the number of nutrients within the soil itself, allowing air and water to penetrate the soil, enriching it as a result.

You have a lot of options in what to put onto your raised bed to keep it healthy. You can add:

  • Manure – Pig or Cow etc.
  • Compost – plant material: grass clippings, leaves etc.
  • Bark or Wood Chips – these need to be composted before use.
  • Cover Crops – clover is a good option, but there are many others.
  • Topsoil – adding extra topsoil adds extra nutrients into your bed.
  • Leaf Mould – Broken down leaves.
  • Peat – Patically decayed plant material found in bogs or moors.

Before you decide which amendment you wish to use, it is better to conduct a soil test first; that way, you can find out what your soil is missing and make the necessary additions.

Conclusion

Using a raised bed offers many benefits, as opposed to regular gardening. They offer better drainage into your soil and gives your back a break from bending over all the time. If you are getting started in gardening, then this is a perfect option for you.

Once you get the soil perfect, you will have more robust plants and something you can proud of and a relaxing garden to unwind in.