Raised Bed Gardening For Beginners. Site Selection, Organic Soil and Mulch

hi I'm Stephen with Albert urban garden

dot CA now is the time of year that new

gardeners are all getting inspired and

revved up for their very first gardening

season but with all the information

that's out there how do you even know

when to start today I'll go through some

of the basics for site selection raised

bed construction your garden soil and

then finally mulch location is extremely

important for when you set up your first

garden to make sure that you have the

best chance for success so how do you

find a location although the summer

solstice is still a few months away the

Sun is going to give you some helpful

tips even now to let you know where the

best place to put your garden is this is

less of a concern if you have a wide

open area but if you're in a city like I

am there are plenty of things that can

obstruct the Sun on a sunny day take 3

or 4 photos of your yard these photos

will let you know which areas are

getting a lot of Sun and which are being

shaded if you don't have an area that in

most of the photos is sunny take a look

for structures structures like fences

trees and houses on the south side of

your property will cast a shadow on the

north end if you are not sure where

north and south are most smartphones

have the built-in compass that can help

you remember that all those structures

on the south side of your yard are

causing the shadows right now the Sun

will pass higher in the sky during the

summer reducing the extent of the

shadowing so look for an area that is

shaded now however when the length of

the shadow is reduced in summer it may

become exposed to sunlight another good

indicator if you live in an area like me

that has snow throughout most of the


is where the snow melts first this is an

an indication that the Sun is able to

concentrate and melt they are first

before it goes into other areas that are

more dependent on say ambient air

temperature in my yard during the winter

the Sun cross is quite low in the sky

and my hell shades the garden most of

the day however with the Sun higher in

the sky it gets 12 to 14 hours of direct

sunlight during the summer optimally the

area you pick should

of a minimum of six to eight hours of

direct sunlight with my short season

more is better in southern climates

closer to the equator the Sun can

actually be quite damaging so it's my

understanding that you may in fact want

to shade your garden and I think it's

actually afternoon Sun that you want to

shade it from if you have a wall of your

house that face itself and as limited

obstructions from the Sun may be

worthwhile to plant your garden directly

against your home your home will not

only protect your plants it will radiate

heat back to them and if you put it

close to a door you'll be able to enjoy

your garden just a little bit more as

you come in and out of the house

you've now identified an area for which

you can put the garden it's time to

narrow that down to exactly where you

want to put your garden bed look for an

area that has a slight slope to a

promote drainage but is relatively flat

don't worry if you have a hillside like

I do in my backyard you can still

construct raised beds like I have it

just takes a little extra time if you're

in the southern hemisphere

make sure to flip the instructions for

North versus South now that you know

where to put your garden it's time to

decide how big of an area you want I

recommend starting with a 4 foot by 8

foot or 1.2 meter by 2 point 4 meter

raised bed garden most people can reach

2 feet or 60 centimeters and with easy

access on all sides you should be able

to reach everywhere in your garden

without having to step on the soil now

that you have an area marked out and you

know the size of garden you want it's

time to figure out which style of

gardening you want to employ generally

speaking when advising new gardeners I

always recommend raised bed gardening I

think it is important to have a

successful first year in order to

inspire you to continue this great hobby

raised beds have a number of benefits

over in-ground gardening that just make

it a little easier to have a good year

some of the benefits of raised beds

include better control of the soil the

chance for fewer weeds and the potential

for fewer soil issues I do realize that

the cost to start a raised bed sometimes

is a little more than in grout gardening

however I feel the investment is well

worth it moving forward raised bed

gardening does not have to cost a lot

it is time to build your garden beds

around the perimeter of my garden I have

selected to build them from two two by

sixes or one two by eight or two by


I've tried as much as possible to

reclaim wood so the depths vary all you

really need is six to eight inches

raised beds are fairly easy to put

together here I have used a four by four

post in the corner to screw the planks

to again I've tried to source scrap

material as much as possible woodworking

corner brackets work fine as well in my

main beds I use four by four and four by

six posts these are more expensive

however as I don't have access all the

way around the garden beds I need to be

able to walk on them the four inch

surface instead of the two inch surface

makes it easier and stronger the posts

are much simpler to attach together you

can simply pre-drill and screw them

directly to each other if you don't have

access to reclaimed wood I recommend

using the cheapest lumber you can find

at your local hardware store in my case

it's pine pine won't last nearly as long

as cedar or some of the other hardwoods

but as you're a new gardener and you'll

probably want to expand in the future

this will give you a little bit more

flexibility while keeping the initial

costs down you have successfully built

your raised bed now it's time to fill it

with soil before you do make sure to put

as much cardboard or paper as you can in

the bottom if you avoid glossy print and

tape the cardboard will break down over

time helping to kill off any plants and

seeds below while feeding and drying in

local earthworms don't just fill your

brand-new raised beds with any old

topsoil make sure it's a garden soil I

made this mistake when I first started

gardening and I had all sorts of

compaction and water and weed problems

that resulted in extremely poor harvests

if you have access or have made your own

compost this is the cheapest way to fill

your garden beds but most new gardeners

have not been composting long enough to

fill their new beds unfortunately this

is where the largest cost for your first

year's garden

may come from in order to keep the cost

of filling your garden down

I recommend the following garden mixture

if you have a garden center that sells

compost in bulk this is likely your

cheapest option if you don't have access

to a truck I have used containers to

transport my soil in my car so what I do

is I go with our house compost at a one

part and then one part oil less potting

mix in order to keep the cost down you

can probably get some of the same

benefits from going three parts house

compost and one part soilless potting

mix if you like mixing the potting soil

helps to hold moisture in air while

making the mixture lighter so that roots

can easily go through it the compost

will provide the nutrients to your

plants throughout the growing season

fill your raised beds nearly to the top

leaving a little space for mulch give it

a quick watering to let things settle in

mulching is the practice of using

organic material and simply laying it on

top of the soil it helps retain moisture

during the summer while suppressing

weeds and as it breaks down it'll bring

in beneficial organisms like earthworms

and provide nutrients to your plants

many of the mulch materials that I've

used in the past are both free and local

I like to use fall leaves used coffee

grounds and wood chips you've built your

first garden congratulations now it's

time to pick what you want to grow I

have some helpful tips in a video that

I'll place a link to at the end of this

video if you'd like more information on

what we've just spoken about today I've

put together a little playlist that

might help you out and goes into a

little bit more detail on each step if

you ever have questions whether you are

new or experienced gardener please feel

free to ask I will do my best to make

sure I answer and encourage more

experienced gardeners to help out as

well thank you very much for spending

time with me today I appreciate it very

much and I hope you have a fantastic day