Garden Bed Preparation & Building

There are many ways to prepare a garden bed. Healthy soil is the vital ingredient. Our plants need this to survive and thrive. Lucky there are many ways to create beautiful soil teeming with life. A lot of the time the soil under grass will be rich enough to support plants without any amendments and you can tear up the grass put some rocks or border in the shape you want your bed and plant away. Look for life in the soil as a good indicator of healthy soils, earthworms, little bugs, microscopic life, the colour and texture too; is it nice and dark and crumbly? Being able to tell if the Soil is healthy is something you will learn with experience. If your soil is not looking too good then you can take the compost you prepared earlier… you didn’t prepare any compost?… okay, you can buy compost, but be careful of where and what kind of compost you buy. Anything that comes in a plastic bag you should be sceptical, how is the life meant to survive in there.

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So take your compost bought or made and spread about 20cm over the area you want your bed. If your compost is going straight onto grass or weeds lay down newspaper (about 6 layers) or cardboard to suppress any weeds so they don’t make a surprise visit in the bed. Wet this layer out also to aid in the newspaper/cardboard breakdown.

Sheet Mulching

Now one of our favourite techniques to starting a garden bed is called sheet mulching. It is basically like making a compost right where you want your bed. You use the same green and brown layers as the hot compost pile technique (check composting). Put the cardboard or newspaper down and wet the layer like before then start your alternating layers wetting each of them as they go down. You can go as high as you want with your layers, great if your making raised beds because good soil can be expensive.

Now you can plant this out straight away which is why this technique is so great. Be careful not to plant straight into the raw brown and green materials so make a little hole for the seedling or seed in the raw materials and fill the hole with ready to go compost or potting mix and plant away.  The idea here is by the time the roots of the plant have grown big enough to venture out from the safe haven of the compost or potting mix the raw layers will have broken down and now ready for the roots.

These are a couple of easy ideas and there are a lot of different ways to garden, experiment and find what works for you and most importantly have fun.