What soil for raised garden beds? #381458 - Ask Extension


What soil for raised garden beds? #381458

Asked January 08, 2017, 7:55 PM EST

Hello. We are going to create some raised vegetable garden beds this coming spring. The beds will be located at the edge of a marshy area, on a slightly sloping grade. The native soil is clay. We are hoping to put several beds in this area. I'm wondering what type, or types, of soil to put into the beds; also how deep to go. Once the beds are filled with soil, should we get that soil tested prior to planting? Any suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated! Thank you, Sharon and Tracy Johnson

Hennepin County Minnesota

Expert Response

Testing is always a good idea. I assume these are low beds (8-16 inches), if planting something like carrots it is a good idea to double dig (remove one shovel depth of soil and apply at least 2 inches of compost & turn it in then replace the top layer, add at least 2 inches of compost and turn that in. Double digging needs to be done only once providing the beds are now walked upon.
It is possible to purchase "top soil" but one never knows what you are getting. You will need to add compost to the topsoil also. Compost should be added about every other year the same a a normal garden and be aware the soil will grow in your beds (giving you the opportunity to use some of it for potting other plants.
Your own soil can be used unless it has been contaminated.
 http://soiltest.cfans.umn.edu/  $17

Dennis Mielke Replied January 10, 2017, 4:34 PM EST

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