raised garden beds

How To Improve The Soil In Raised Garden Beds

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Have you wondered how to improve your soil in your raised garden beds? I drove out to LaVerkin, Utah to a small family-owned garden shop called Ballard Nursery to get the scoop on soil, raised beds and so much more.

We have all had good years of gardening and occasional years when we wonder what the in the world happened to my squash, or whatever.

I have heard people say to me “I can’t get anything to grow in my garden”. I get it. It was so much easier to garden in the rich soil I had up north in Salt Lake City, Utah. You could practically dig a hole and plant a tiny plant and BAM that baby would grow like crazy!

Raised Garden Beds

It took me a few years here in the desert to get the hang of growing a successful garden. We have a lot of critters here and the bugs are out of control. Last year, I found grubs in my raised garden beds. What the heck? I thought they only ate the roots. Nope, they love anything with roots, I guess.

Coffee Grounds

I also learned not to put so many coffee grounds in the garden from the local coffee shop because they put too much nitrogen into the soil in my raised garden beds.

I guess I put way too many in my planter areas to get rid of the cats in the neighborhood that thought my flower pots, potato pots, and raised gardens were their litter box.

Yep, we learn something new every year, right? Coffee grounds are good, but not the amount I used, just to clarify my statement. The pH level was off and I had to add additional nutrients to offset those coffee grounds to have a successful garden.

I have also learned when to plant and when not to plant certain seeds or plants in my area. I live in Southern Utah where my climate zone is #8A.

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If you have a local family-owned garden center in your area, I highly recommend you go there and get a printout of the times you can plant certain vegetables and other plants or trees you would like in your garden.

Here is a vegetable planting schedule for my zone (this shows the time of year it is safe to plant these vegetables in my area):

Vegetable Planting List

I have several four-foot by four-foot by 18-inch tall raised garden beds in my backyard. When I first moved here I tried growing tomatoes in pots. It’s too hot, so that did not work. The dirt in my yard is hard rock red clay.

It almost takes a pick and shovel to dig any kind of a hole for shrubs or trees. I soon realized that my only option was to purchase some raised gardens.

I have a very small house and yard. I need to use as much space to produce food for pleasure and to survive if we had an unforeseen emergency or disaster. I had to learn how to garden here.

I have been successful with gardening in this home for about nine or ten years now. I have had a garden for as long as I can remember. In years past, I canned everything possible from my garden teaching my daughters the skill of gardening and canning. It’s really fun, I promise. But this desert area took me some time to learn how to garden.

When I arrived at Ballard Nursery I was fortunate enough to talk to the owner about making sure that the products I was buying would for sure be the perfect match for a successful garden yet another year.

I had been reading about composting (no, I do not compost food-yet) my life is pretty busy and I can’t add that to my plate each day. So I buy organic compost and organic fertilizer. So there you have it, some people love to compost. I don’t. Maybe, someday I will tackle it.

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My next goal is harvesting rainwater, my baby steps to be more self-reliant.

I had also studied up on different products I thought I would need, but I wanted to hear it from the expert nursery owner if these were the right ones for my area. Bingo! I nailed it with the help of phone calls, reading, and research at various nurseries. Ballard nursery has the most knowledge in my area! Woohoo!

I no longer own a wheelbarrow so I mixed up the following items listed below in each raised garden bed. I used my hands, a small pitchfork, and shovel to make the soil rich and loamy.

The base for my raised garden beds is Miracle Grow soil. Then I made a concoction of peat moss, Azomite minerals, Coco Coir, organic compost, bone meal, earthworm castings (organic fertilizer), Vermiculite, and a small amount steer manure. My soil is 15-17-inches deep.

Final Word

You can buy most of these at your local garden centers. I bought some items online and some locally. I promise a garden is all about the seeds and the soil. We can all grow a garden, we just need practice. This is one more way to be prepared for the unexpected. Grow a raised garden bed and harvest your own food. It’s all about being self-reliant.

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My favorite items for my garden:
Azomite Micronized Bag, 44 lb
FibreDust Coco Coir Block
Unco Industries Wiggle Worm Soil Builder Earthworm Castings Organic Fertilizer, 15-Pound
Miracle-Gro Nature’s Care Organic Bone Meal, 3 lb.
Espoma VM8 8-Quart Organic Vermiculite

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