It’s time to rejuvenate your raised bed soil to grow stronger, healthier, and more productive plants than ever this year!
Raised beds are a wonderful method for gardening, especially for those who might not otherwise be able to grow a garden.
Because they can be placed nearly anywhere, they are a perfect choice for those with limited yard space. And with their elevated design, they also make it easier for those with physical limitations to still enjoy gardening.
Best of all, with their defined space, they make many of the tedious garden chores such as weeding, watering and harvesting far easier than in a traditional garden setting.
But with all great things, there are, of course, always a few challenges. And with raised beds, one of the biggest is keeping the soil charged and full of nutrients.
Why Rejuvenating Your Raised Bed Soil Is Important
Unfortunately, flowers, vegetable plants and even herbs take nutrients from the soil as they grow. And because raised beds have no ability to replenish those nutrients on their own, the soil can quickly become quite sterile and lifeless.
Unfortunately, it can happen quickly. In fact, in as little as a year depending on the plant varieties you grow. And as the structure of the soil weakens, so does its ability to hold water.
All of which result in plants that struggle to grow, and produce less and less with each passing season. Whether it be blooms for flowers, or fruit and veggies from your vegetable plants.
As if all of that wasn’t bad enough, stale, tired soil also becomes an inviting home for pests and disease to take hold.
But luckily, by adding just a few key life-giving ingredients each and every growing season, you can keep your beds healthy and productive. In fact, with the four methods below, you can actually make them even more productive than before!
How To Rejuvenate Raised Bed Soil – 4 Simple Methods That Work!
#1) Compost – The First Line Of Defense
Nothing will add more power and life to your tired soil than compost. Compost overflows with all of the things the soil in raised beds need most.
For starters, it is full of nutrients, microbes and organisms. All of which can easily be absorbed by the roots of plants when mixed into the soil.
But compost also helps to loosen the soil for better, stronger and faster root growth. And if that wasn’t enough, it can absorb its weight in water multiple times over. That means your plants can have the moisture they need on hand, when they need it most!
How much compost should you add? The short answer is as much as you can fit in! Even if that means removing some of the old soil as you do.
A good rule of thumb is to replace or add 15 to 20% of compost to the existing soil in a raised. That is more than enough to help recharge and even improve tired soils.
In our homemade DIY raised beds here at the farm (3′ x 6′ x 18″), we add two full wheelbarrows of fresh compost every year into each bed.
And what do we do with any soil we might remove? Well, it is a perfect addition to our compost pile. Not only does it add a bit of organic matter to the pile, the old soil recharges quickly when mixed in with the fresh compost.
#2 ) Create Better Air Flow & Drainage With Perlite – How To Rejuvenate Raised Bed Soil
Here is one ingredient that you might not think of adding to raised beds – perlite. But can it ever help to create healthier, more productive beds!
Although this popcorn like material is often used to lighten and aerate potting soils, it is equally good for raised beds.
Perlite is all natural and totally organic, and when added to raised beds, helps the soil from becoming compacted. In the process, it creates air channels for water and nutrients to find their way to the roots of plants.
The best way to add perlite is at planting time, working in a cup or two in the soil around each plant. This way it loosens the soil exactly where you need it most.
One of the key attributes of perlite is that it never breaks down. So each year, you will continue to build more into your planting areas. Product Link : Bagged Perlite
#3) Aged Manure – How To Rejuvenate Raised Bed Soil
Next to compost, there is no better and faster way to add nutrients to raised bed soil that with good ol’ aged manure.
Chicken, rabbit, cow, goat and horse manure are among the best to use. They are full of the nutrients that plants love most. They are also by far the most common to find. Especially if you are not lucky enough to have a backyard chicken coop!
The best way to add in manure is in the early spring or late fall. This will allow enough time to break down a bit before planting. Add a few inches on top top, and then work in with a shovel or rake.
It is important to use dry and aged manure, not super fresh. First off, there will be little odor to dry manure. And more importantly, fresh manure can be too full of nutrients, and easily burn the roots of plants.
#4 ) Using Natural Fertilizers – How To Rejuvenate Raised Bed Soil
This last point may come as a big surprise to many, but how and what you fertilize your raised bed plants with during the growing season can make a big difference in the quality and long-term health of your soil.
Many commercial fertilizers can actually harm the soil over time. They can alter the PH and increase the salt levels. The end result is soil that needs more and more fertilizer to produce the same results.
And that is exactly why using natural fertilizers are so important! They not only give a boost of nutrients to your plants, but add residual value to your soil as well.
Two great examples are compost tea and worm casting tea. The nutrients from both work quickly to provide power to plants. But in addition, the liquid leached into the soil only increases its fertility and strength.
Compost Tea & Worm Casting Tea
Last but not least, this fall, think about planting a crop of peas to cover your raised bed soil. Not only will they protect your soil over winter, they help to fix nitrogen back in as well!
Here is to powering up your raised beds this year, and to a great growing season! Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary
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