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Raised Bed Gardening For Beginners. Site Selection, Organic Soil and Mulch

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Its that time of year that people get inspired to start their first gardens. With all the information out there where do you even start? Today ill go through the basics in getting your first garden going starting by going through location selection, raised bed construction, garden soil and mulching.

Location location location! It is really important to make sure you place your first garden in a good location.

So how do you figure out where a good location for your garden is?

Although the summer solstice is still a few months away the sun this time of year is going to give you some hints of where to place your garden. This is less of a concern if you have a wide open area but if your in an city like I am there are plenty of things that can obstruct the sun.

on a sunny day take a three or four photos of you yard. This will let you know where the sun is hitting and where it is being shaded. If you dont have an area that in most of the photos is sunny take a look for structures, fences and trees to the south of the are in your yard that is the closest to the North of you property.

If your not sure where North and South are most smart phones have a built in compass.

remember that although structures on the south side of your yard are causing the shadow right now the sun will pass higher in the sky during the summer reducing the extend of the shadowing. So look for an area that is shaded now however when the length of the shadow is reduced in summer may become exposed to sunlight.

Another good indicator if you live in an area that is snow covered through out the winter is where the snow melts first. This is indicative of where the sun is able to concentrate its melting.

In my yard during the winter as the sun crosses the sky quite low and my house shades the garden most of the day however with the sun higher in the sky it gets 12-14 hours of direct sun.

optimally the area you pick should have a minimum of 6-8 hours of direct sunlight. With my short season more is better.

in southern climates closer to the equator you may in fact want to make sure you do get some shade as the summer sun is much more intense. From what I understand its best to select areas that shade part of the afternoon sun.

If at all possible place your garden as near to a entrance on an south facing wall of your home that has limited obstructions. If close to your door you it will be easier to enjoy your garden and the house will reflect heat and protect your plants.

You have now identified an area and your look for a specific spot. When selecting your spot make sure that it optimally has clear access all around it and has a slight slope away to provide drainage. Don’t worry if your yard has a slope like mine. You can still build a raised bed its just going to take a little longer.

if you are in the southern hemisphere make sure to flip the instructions for North vs. South.

Now that you know where to put your garden its time to decide how big of an area you want. I recommend starting with a 4 foot by 8 foot area or 1.2 meters by 2.4 meters raised bed garden. Most people can reach 2 feet or 60 cm and with the easy access on all sides you should be able to reach everywhere in the garden with out having to step on the soil.

Now that you have an area marked out and a size selected its time to figure out how you want to garden. I generally recommend new gardeners start with a raised beds.

I think it is important to have a successful first year in order to inspire you to continue this great hobby. Raise beds have a number of benefits over in ground gardening that just make it a little easier to have a good year. Some of the benefits of raised beds include better control of the soil, the chance for fewer weeds and the potential for fewer soil issues.

I do realize getting started does cost a little more but I personally feel its worth the investment. Moving forward raised bed gardening does not have to cost a lot.

its time to build your garden beds. around the perimeter of my garden area I have selected built them from 2 2×6 or one 2 x 8 or 12. I tried to use as much as possible reclaimed wood so the depth varies. All you really need is 6-8 inches of depth.

Raised beds are fairly easy to put together. here I have used a 4×4 post in the corner to screw the planks too. Again I try to source scrap material as much as possible. wood working corner brackets work fine as well.

in my main beds I used 4×4 and 4×6 posts. These are more expensive however as I dont have access all the way around the garden beds and I needed to be able to walk on the frame. The 4 inch surface instead of the 2 inch surface makes it easer and stronger. The posts are much simpler to attach together. you can simply pre drill and screw them directly to each other.

Comments

Bethany Thornburg says:

Hey! Question.. so the soil in my backyard is utter rubbish, full of rocks, and I'm not really sure how many earthworms are actually back there.. I don't think I've ever seen one. I know earthworms are essential in the aeration of the soil that would be in my bed, so I'm wondering should I add earthworms myself or will they be naturally attracted to the healthy soil in my beds despite the actual backyard being so crappy? Or should I supplement in extra coconut coir, which I've read helps tremendously with aeration? I'm completely new to this! Thank you!!

Joshua Ehl says:

Good for you on reusing word sources.

Sonja Toutenhoofd says:

hmmm…I had fill dirt (the guy said it was fine for garden beds) put in two new boxes we made with his help. I now regret it as the dirt seems sandy and lifeless. I guess I should dig it out and replace with better soil, do you think? I did mix in some of my nice compost but not enough. Maybe I should buy some bags of soil from the hardware store to replace? If you still follow this, what do you recommend?

chauncey the gardener says:

hello does anyone know where there is a garden I can work in ?

sikamikan says:

great content in this video. thanks for sharing

Hobby Homesteader says:

I want to have my very first gardening season. I am in AZ so the must love the heat …. I want to use a series of raised bed and am looking for beds I don't actually have to build. I have heard horse troughs or baby pools work … any thought?

Jen K says:

I do not use pine as it is acidic and changes the pH in the soil. Most plants are neutral pH therefore, changing the balance in the soil can cause problems, unless you are using plants that are grown best in acidic soil. Using cedar is great for use in gardens especially on the coast or rainy regions as it is more rot resistant in the rain.

Maria Loca Contreras says:

thanks for the video I have a question I want to build one of these garden boxes butt I live in West Texas oil field and the dirt here is very contaminated I want to plant vegetables I've never Garden before thank you where can I get good seeds that don't have any nasty crap in them if anyone knows no (GMOs)

suDz says:

Great video for the starters !!

Can't we just use compost/vermicompost plus fine top soil(instead of potting soil), which may or may not have nutrients in it ??

Latoya Williams says:

So distracted by the cute puppy lol.

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