Finally, we’re now onto part three of raised beds, the actual soil! This subject is just as applicable to container gardens as well.
We’ve heard countless stories of gardeners finding “good deals” on truckloads of what is called “gardening soil” or “gardening mix” through various local providers all around Alaska and beyond. This so-called “garden mix” is often just a combination of harvested peat and basic dirt, plus maybe a little bit of compost. Most are of wildly fluctuating quality. What is generally true, though, is that it’s really not suitable for raised beds as a standalone ingredient. Almost everyone we’ve heard using these “good deal” soil mixes end up immensely disappointed in it. They experience severe soil compaction, poor drainage and their plants just don’t grow well in it.
One of my favorite topics within gardening is the subject of soil building. Though it’s a somewhat complicated topic overall, it’s really just the practice of developing appropriate soils for particular applications. We put together a general guide on the subject of soil building and broke the concept down into all the basic elements that contribute to a soil’s structure and also the ingredients that you might want to use to get there. We cover what you’re looking for out of a good garden soil and even some of the so-called “scary” subjects like pH correction.
We fully recognize that there are many different gardeners out there with varying means. Some are willing to buy the materials they need to make exceptional crafted soils, others want to figure out how to work with the most inexpensive materials possible. We tried to cover all of these bases in our soil building article! When you understand the practice of soil building, you can much more inexpensively make incredible growing soils over just buying expensive bags of potting mix. We don’t outright say those “garden mix” truckload deals aren’t appropriate for gardening. But it is better if you think of them as an ingredient in your actual, desired and fully crafted soil mix.
Should you want to be stubborn and put faith in those “garden mixes” by the truckload, we do wish you luck. Very few folks that pull dirt out of the ground also have the expertise to know what us growers are actually looking for. Dirt, peat and maybe some compost isn’t enough. We’re trying to steer you in the right direction, but all we can really do is our part.
If you are trying to fill some raised beds this year, or are building a sizeable container garden, you’d be wise to check out our soil building article! It’ll save you a lot of money and heartache, if you’re in need of a lot of soil!