How you fill a raised garden bed and build the perfect organic soil is very important. The goal is not to simply find out if you can fill a raised bed with compost but to create an optimal living organic raised bed soil that levels and there are many methods out there that work great. Soil is a vital part of the planting and the first thing to know is that dirt is not soil.
Soil is rich and full of nutrients and it’s biologically active which are all of the things dirt lack. Many people make mistakes when it comes to compost hence it is important to understand how much soil and organic material is needed to fill a raised bed.
If you have raised your garden bed with soils that are less than ideal or thinking if it’s okay to fill a raised bed with compost then don’t fret as this article contains answers to your question and ways to improve it as well.
What is Compost?
Compost is decayed organic materials that are used as fertilizers for growing plants. They are rich in nutrients, used as fertilizers, used to control erosion, and many more.
How is compost formed?
The decaying of organic matter forms compost; these organic matters are turned to compost through the work of microorganisms, enzymes, fungi, etc. These organic matters can be transformed into compost in a space of 2 weeks – 2 years, depending on the environment provided for them.
There are 2 major ingredients for successful compost. They are; carbon-rich ingredients and nitrogen-rich ingredients.
1. Carbon-rich ingredients
They are also called “brown”, they consist of stems, dried leaves, branches, peels, coffee grounds, eggshells, straws, wood ash, brown paper bags, corn stalks, peat moss, etc.
2. Nitrogen-rich ingredients
They are also called protein-rich ingredients or ” green” they consist of green leaves, food scraps, manifest, kitchen waste, etc.
For your compost to be termed healthy, it has to have more carbon than nitrogen. Carbon-rich ingredients allow oxygen to enter and feed the organisms. However, when nitrogen is more, it makes it smelly and takes time to decompose.
Things you should not add to your compost pile include; Meat, fish, egg, charcoal, black walnut tree leaves, dairy products.
Can you fill a raised bed with compost?
A raised bed is a form of gardening that is done in soil that is higher than the ground. It is usually 6-8 inches high and 3-6 foot wide. Raised beds can be used for any gardening condition but are usually advised for a small space garden. Plants in a raised bed tend to grow faster than in a typical garden, they are also easy to maintain. With raised beds, you get to choose the type of soil you’ll be using to plant. Some other benefits of using raised beds are as follow;
- You don’t have to struggle with erosion or with the people’s feet on the soil.
- There are few weeds in a raised bed. This saves you a lot of time and energy.
- The sandy soil can conserve water and there is better drainage for the clay soil.
- There is enough space for the plants to grow.
- With raised beds, you don’t have to till your garden every year to add fertilizer. Most gardeners maintain the bed and just top it with materials like compost etc.
When making a raised bed, an important factor that enhances the growth of your plants is compost.
Why is compost important to raised beds?
- Plants that are grown with rich compost and natural minerals are usually healthier for people to consume, they are rich in vitamins and other nutrients.
- Plants that are grown in compost do not call pests to themselves.
- Most chemical fertilizers are harsh and they cause harm to the plant, however, soil with rich compost provides plants with all of the natural nutrients it needs to grow.
- Compost makes some bacteria and fungi available, these help to break down organic matter to create humus.
- The nutrients provided by compost together with the soil nutrients provide a balanced source of nutrients for the plants.
Can I fill my raised beds with just compost?
No, you shouldn’t fill raised beds with just compost because of the nutrients that compost possesses, a lot of people may be considering planting in compost alone. But, growing your plant on compost alone is not advisable. Compost is a soil correction; it adds some nutrients to the soil, however, it does not possess some other nutrients and minerals required for growing plants.
What happens when you use only compost to grow your plant?
It is important not to use compost only to grow your plant as this could cause a problem with water retention. Below are things that happen when you use only compost to grow your plant:
Compost, when added to the soil, helps in retaining water and better drainage. However, when used alone, can lead to the water draining quickly and drying out fast.
2. Loss of other nutrients
The plants need specific nutrients to grow, while compost possesses some nutrients, it doesn’t have them all. Planting in compost alone will deprive the plants of these nutrients the soil has to offer.
Compost is just an organic matter, hence it will continue to crumble even after planting on it. This means that the amount will decrease as your crop grows.
Finally, adding compost to your raised beds is very important, but growing your plant on compost alone is bad for your plant. Compost is only good as amendments. It’s quite weird but using straight soil in a container alone will soon turn into something close to cement, hence go ahead and still add a good bit of compost then do use your soil as well.