Gardening & Amending the Soil for Raised Beds in the City

My last gardening post was about building raised beds. The reason I’ve decided to write more about gardening here at RE is that I want people to know how attainable food-raising really is, especially if you live on a city lot. It does take a little bit of money, but mostly space and time and sunshine and water. It’s really up to you to research out what will work best for you, but for my zone in Oregon, the most important thing right now is preparing the soil.

Soil is the most important aspect of gardening that you have control over. The safest amendment is to buy compost and manure if you don’t have it on your property. Manure helps provide nutrients. Compost helps to break the soil up and allow for better drainage and makes the dirt easier to work with. Both actually make your garden beds look better, more pleasing to the eye. We call our southern Oregon clay soil “gumbo,” and it’s very hard to amend (so we really have to “work” it).

NEW raised beds
1. Lay a few layers of newspaper down; water.
2. Lay about 3-5 inches of compost on top of the newspaper.
3. Layer manure on top.

RETURNING raised beds
1. Amend the existing soil with compost each year when it’s time to plant.
2. Use the “double-digging” approach (or trench-digging) to amend the soil.
3. Remove the topsoil, or set it aside, and then loosen the subsoil.
4. Take the original topsoil and add compost, manure, etc. and return it as the top layer of your garden bed.
5. No need to roto-till the beds.

The better your soil – the more likely you will have success with your garden!

Pathways in between
In the pathways between the beds, we used decomposed granite, partly because it’s pretty inexpensive, and also because while in Napa Valley last year, we saw it being used and how attractive it was. We soon discovered that you need to go out on a regular basis and weed it thought. So we learned from our mistake and use something different now. Unless you like to weed!

We are enthusiastic about gardening not only for the fresh veggies that we produce, but for the benefits that come from sharing, inviting, eating and connecting with friends –many times sharing the results of our efforts over a cozy meal in the backyard.

And I can’t wait …

Are you one of us “city-folk” who’s getting back into gardening?

Next Gardening Post: From the Garden to the Table … it’s time to start planning what you want to plant and a sneek peek of our AeroGarden.

Here’s a few things to be thinking about:
1. What do you like to eat?
2. What do you like to serve for side dishes?
3. What is most beneficial for the amount of space that you have?

11 comments on “Gardening & Amending the Soil for Raised Beds in the City”

  1. Pingback: Growing Seeds of Love with our AeroGarden — Reluctant Entertainer

  2. I built my first raised bed a few years ago after reading about yours. :-) Now I have 2. Our red clay soil here in GA is just terrible for raising anything, the raised beds solve that problem. We’ve added some blueberries nearby (not in raised beds) and I add marigolds and herbs to each bed to keep pests away.

    What’s funny is that I was inside drawing up my Very Serious garden plan and my little girls (5 & 3) were outside opening seed packets and flinging them all over…. “Mommy, we planted all your seeds!” They were so happy to help me. So I have no idea what my tiny seedlings will produce or where, but we should have an interesting garden this year! I did nestle in some tomatoes and a few other things, so at least I know what the larger green stuff is.

    Kids are awesome.

  3. My husband just built me some gorgeous raised beds and I’ve started putting some of my seedlings in there…
    I’m a major newbie gardener and definitely a city-girl, so this is all new to me. But I’m so excited for the growing season! :)
    Thanks for the advice.

    You can see a few pics of my raised beds posted here: http://thestarcrossedblogger.blogspot.com/2011/03/kitchen-garden-under-construction.html

  4. We’re in our third growing season since we started gardening here in Florida (although we don’t do raised beds, we’re in the ground digging people) and we learn something every single season. I love the built in activity that it gives us to do with our 2 year old, and she asks to visit the garden every night after dinner once the plants are in.

    We even had her plant some of the bean seeds this season and Oh My Goodness the anticipation of those sprouts was a terrible pre-occupation for a tiny child! But totally worth it, she was beyond excited when they finally came up.

    Glad you’re going to add this topic to your repertoire, more people should try it, it’s so not that hard at all!

  5. It’s so chilly yet that I haven’t been in the mood to garden, but it is time to start thinking about it. My favorite garden tip is to stop by Starbucks. They package up their coffee grounds and give them away for free. I gather them up and spread them on my garden soil and dig them in. They add nutrients to the soil and make the garden smell good as well!

  6. Usually after the initial cost, it is quite a bit less to care for and plant your garden! We don’t have a city lot but I do love gardening…I’m wishing our weather would cooperate so I can get out to the garden site and do something. It’s so wet that I know it’ll be a mud pit if I go out there.

  7. I love your blog! Your posts are so inspirational. We have always had a so so garden but this weekend we will be putting in 4 raised beds and getting them ready for planting. Now if only our weather would improve……..

  8. I was so inspired by last week’s post that I have already planted 2 different tomato plants and a bell pepper plant in my front flower bed. I live in the city and had to use the space available where the dogs will not trample them.

  9. I’m in downtown Kyiv. Everyone has a dacha somewhere that they go to on the weekends and often times they send the babushkas (grandmothers) out for the summer with the grandchildren. We have neither, but I did buy some rhubarb seeds that I saw when I blitzed through a market one Saturday and gave them to my housekeeper to plant at her dacha. She’s going to bring it to me so I can freeze it for jam. Can.not.wait!

  10. We’ve actually already started eating off of our garden. But we live in Florida and have an earlier planting season. I just blogged about it the other day. I see the link is below my comment if you want to check out how it’s going.

  11. I’m just about to makeup my raised beds for the first time, so thanks so much for the post. I’ve given me some ideas of how to best do it :)

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