After Craigslist scouring, I ended up with nearly enough cement blocks to build two raised garden beds (I had to buy about seven new to fill the gaps, which added up to around $8). The next step was to calculate how much soil I would need to fill each, starting by using this really nifty soil volume calculator at Gardener’s Supply Company, which told me that I would need 75 cubic feet (or 2.765 cubic yards) of soil to fill one bed. Gardener’s Supply lists a “recipe” for raised bed fill as follows:
- 60 percent topsoil (I would need 45 cubic feet for each of my beds)
- 30 percent compost (22.5 cubic feet)
- 10 percent soilless growing mix that contains peat moss, perlite and/or vermiculite (7.5 cubic feet)
That kind of volume meant that bagged materials were out of the question. If I went the Home Depot route, buying Earthgro ($2.47/cubic foot), Ecoscraps compost ($5.97/cubic foot) and Grower’s Gold Outdoor Growing Mix ($10/1.5 cubic feet), I’d end up paying nearly $300 to fill each bed!
There’s got to be a cheaper way.
And there is! If you have access to clippings, cardboard, and kind neighbors, check out this simple recipe at Eco Films Australia:
- Top layer: straw
- Layer 2: compost
- Layer 3: newspaper and cardboard
- Layer 4: grass clippings
- Layer 5: rough mulch
- Bottom layer: branches
The gardener in question swears by this mix for growing great plants. But while I do have great neighbors, what I don’t have is patience. So I ended up contacting a local green landscaper for a bulk delivery of their growing mix: topsoil mixed with compost. I paid about $248 to get five yards delivered, and this was more than enough to fill each bed and have a big pile left over for another section of the yard that needed some love. And then came the plants — in my next garden post.
Image via Eco Films Australia.