I have been a huge proponent of raised bed gardening for most of my life. My father gardened in raised beds and taught me all of the benefits you get from gardening that way.
Recently I have listened to several podcasts and read a few blog posts from people advocating building raised beds. Great! The one thing I was less than happy to hear / read was when they finished building their beds. They then went on to recommend going to the local garden supply to buy peat moss, steer manure, topsoil, etc... to fill their new beds.
|My Little Garden|
Now, I don't know how the rest of you are sitting financially, but I can tell you there is no way I would be able to fill my raised beds that way - even before the economic downturn! It would cost me thousands of dollars to purchase enough soil to fill my beds.
Many of us have read (or at least heard of) the book by William Alexander "The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden"
If you are on a journey to spend as much money as you can to harvest a few vegetables then this is the path for you!
But, it doesn't have to be that way... Here's how I did it.
I built my raised beds (with scrap lumber) and dug the pathways between the beds down about 2". I put the soil I dug into the beds. Every fall I add all of my unfinished compost to the beds. I put newspaper and grass clippings in the walkways to keep the weeds down and about every other year I dig it back out and put it in the beds. I have not bought any soil (or fertilizer - compost is great!) for any of my raised beds.
My way does not offer the immediate gratification - but hey, what chores in gardening do? It does give you peace of mind knowing where all of your soil came from. One of my friends built raised beds and filled them with "compost from the recycling facility" ~ which happens to be next door to - you guessed it - the sewage treatment plant! Guess what he has in his garden beds? Just a hint: more than just sewage.
Get your hands dirty!