At the end of every season I like to evaluate the garden. This is when I take note of the highs and lows and finish the year by topping off each raised bed.
It’s important to me that I always use natural material for topping off like direct compost, manure and leaves in conjunction with the soil.
These elements remain to be the best way to feed the beds and they help improve the soil beautifully.
If you have other ideas, I’d love to hear about them.
Startle Garden Did Amazing
Our Startle Garden did amazing this year even though we were out of the area for 7 months. I was impressed and thrilled because my fear was that by leaving with Robert, I would risk losing the entire garden.
Let me just repeat myself by saying taller and smaller raised beds are a true game changer. We returned home about once a month during that period and all I did was water and clean up where needed.
Talk about a sweet experience!
My Favorite Natural Material for Raised Beds
When we arrived home one of my first garden projects, I wanted to attempt was shrinking down the blackberry beds. After we finished clearing that first property, I took an afternoon and did just that.
That activity left me with an abundance of soil which was a huge perk.
If you’re in the middle of topping off your own raised beds and don’t have additional soil at your fingertips keep in mind you can also purchase organic soil from a local nursery.
I’ve done this in a pinch and there’s no shame friends…
Amending soil is hard work and it takes about three years to really see the benefits. With that being said I have to admit that blackberry soil was pretty sweet.
I could also see that it still needed help, this led me to using the following ingredients when I topped off each raised bed.
- Lots of leaf material – they’re plentiful here, small and perfect to blend with soil. For larger leaves you can chip, or burn and use the ashes.
- Direct Compost – this was just food waste that I saved the week prior and I mixed between layers of soil to welcome the worms.
- Manure – I used up the last of my llama droppings from the farm.
It’s true I brought buckets of llama manure from the farm because it’s absolutely golden. To say I’m out of stock now is a little sad but I’m sure I’ll figure that out when the time comes for more.
Perhaps I can take my own advice on finding garden manure here.
Topping off Raised Beds
Moving that dirt took me awhile… But I have to tell you, after taking the summer off it was fun to get my hands dirty.
For each layer of soil that was added there was a layer of leaves, manure and direct compost that followed.
For some beds it was a matter of a nice layer of natural material and a thick load of soil on top. Evaluate your beds and the depth you have to work with to figure out the right consistency.
Most important part of the process is to not over think this activity.
Topping off beds can sometimes be as simple as just loosening up the soil.
This can be done with a hand spade but because I had all that blackberry dirt that needed a home I decided to simply top off.
Now the garden sits and awaits Spring planting.
I will continue to add direct compost over the winter months and eventually I’ll finish the raised bed painting I started back in August.
Topping off raised beds at the end of the year will give your garden the boost it needs when spring arrives.
So, when a warm front arrives visit the garden…
Smiles and Sunshine, Carole