When it comes to filling your metal raised garden beds with soil, there are some tips that can really make a big difference to your bed as well as help you grow a green thumb on a budget.
If you’re a new gardener and have a small galvanized raised beds, i would suggest you use MeI’s method. Before your gardening, you could read MeI Bartholomew of Square Foot Gardening, a best selling gardening book, which is very useful for a beginner. According to Mel’s Mix, you need to fill one third peat moss, one third vermiculite and one third blended sources of compost. Professional grade bales of peat moss run less than $20 for 3.8 cubic feet (cf) and will "fluff" up to almost 8 cf. The bales you find in the home improvement stores are also 3.8 cf, but only "fluff" up to about 6 cf. So it would cost you a lot. Bartholomew states that using this mix eliminates the need for fertilizer, especially when additional compost is added in subsequent years to both fill the settling soil level and to add a boost of nutrition.
Hügelkultur (usually transliterated into English simply as “hugelkultur”) has been used for centuries in eastern Europe and Germany, often as part of a broader permaculture system.
Put simply, hugelkultur is a centuries-old, traditional way of building a garden bed from rotten logs and plant debris. These mound shapes are created by marking out an area for a raised bed, clearing the land, and then heaping up woody material (that’s ideally already partially rotted) topped with compost and soil. They hold moisture, build fertility, maximise surface volume and are great spaces for growing fruit, vegetables and herbs.
The trick of this method, to halve the cost of your soil or more, depending on how you do it, is to understand how a lot of plants’ root systems grow. Filled your 50%-60% steel raised bed with organic materials, like logs, brush, sticks, twigs, grass clippings, straw, cardboard, unfinished, partially finished compost. There’s a ton of things you can do. Fill up more space at an even lower cost in the bottom. And those are eventually going to break down. They’re becoming home for bacteria, mycorrhizal fungi, things that eventually will become the soil in your bed. And as you grow in something like this, it’s going to sink. It maybe sink two, three inches in a year, maybe the first year, slightly more. And what you do is you’ll just top dress with some more compost and mulch over the top of that. So it’s really just that easy.
After you fill your bottom bed, and then you could fill the rest of 50% top soil, 25% compost, 25% other sources of organic matter(like horse manure, cow manure, things like that). Or you could just go with a bag mix, which will be more accessible to most of people.
At last, use multch layer on top, nice protective layer on top of the high quality mix.
- The best woody species for hügelbeds are alder, apple, cottonwood, maple, oak, poplar, dry willow, and birch.
- Avoid any treated wood, cedar, and allelopathic or toxic species, such as black cherry and black walnut.
- Super-rotten wood is better than slightly aged wood.
- Plants that grow especially well in hügelbeds are sprawlers and viners such as cucumbers, legumes, melons, potatoes, and squashes.