soil for raised vegetable bed?

Asked May 22, 2015, 12:05 PM EDT

What would be the best option for soil in a raised vegetable garden on a budget? I do not have any compost so everything will have to be store bought. Thank you!

Weld County Colorado soil and fertility issues

1 Response

Thank you for contacting the Weld County Master Gardeners; and welcome to the world of gardening!

Being a big fan of raised bed gardening, I’m excited to hear of your desire to learn about the best soil options for your raised vegetable garden. I’m responding with the assumption that you are new to gardening, so I have taken the liberty of including the attached information, which will help you greatly in making your choices based on your budget, location and the type of soil you have.

In vegetable gardening, the goal is to increase the organic content of your soil to about 4-5%; this does take some time, but can be accomplished with soil amendments. A soil amendment is anything added to the existing soil, such as peat moss, compost, composted manure or straw. Soil amendments improve soil tilth, which basically is, combining products to create the best conditions for your vegetables to grow and thrive in. Soil amendments also increase pore space, which increase the soil’s oxygen levels, while also improving drainage. Soil amendments are also a type of “grocery store of goodies” for organisms within in the soil; when “fed well”; these organisms help by decreasing compaction within the soil.

If your budget allows, having your soil tested to see what type of soil you currently have will help in determining the amendments needed. You can contact your local CSU Extension Office at (970) 304-6535 for information about obtaining a Soil Test Kit and the cost of soil testing.

If your budget doesn’t allow soil testing at this time, take a look at CMG GardenNotes: #214 Estimating Soil Texture: Sand, Silt or Clayey, (listed below,) this Garden Note will help you determine the type of soil you have and help you determine the type(s) of amendments you will need. This is how I first started my own raised bed for growing vegetables. Once I determined what amendments I needed based on my soil type, I watched for sales of those particular products and was able to purchase based on my budget. I started out with products such as Miracle Grow Garden Soil, Sphagnum Peat Moss, and Composted Mushroom Compost, to name a few. These were easy to work with and provided me with a good basis to start with based on my soil type. This along with basic fertilization brought about vegetable production success! I believe the information below with also help you have vegetable production success! Now, remember the most important part of gardening is to have fun, and enjoy!

Plantalk Colorado: #1845 Raised Bed Gardening http://www.ext.colostate.edu/ptlk/1845.html

CMG GardenNotes: #711 Vegetable Garden: Soil Management and Fertilization http://www.ext.colostate.edu/mg/Gardennotes/711.html

Plantalk Colorado: #1812 Raised Beds verses Rows http://www.ext.colostate.edu/ptlk/1812.html

Fact Sheet: # 7.235 Choosing a Soil Amendment http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/Garden/07235.html

CMG GardenNotes: #713 Block Style Layout in Raised Bed Vegetable Gardens http://www.ext.colostate.edu/mg/gardennotes/713.html

CMG GardenNotes: #221 Soil Tests http://www.ext.colostate.edu/mg/gardennotes/221.html

CMG GardenNotes: #214 Estimating Soil Texture: Sand, Silt or Clayey? http://www.ext.colostate.edu/mg/gardennotes/214.html

Live Long and Prosper,

Liz U

Weld County Colorado Master Gardener

525 North 15th Avenue

Exhibition Building, Island Grove Park

Greeley, CO 80631

(970) 304-6535