Construct your bed with rot-resistant materials, like concrete blocks, redwood or cedar, or composite lumber. If you’re in an apartment or renting you can use less expensive materials like Douglas fir or even movable containers.
If you are new to gardening, start small; a 4’ x 4’ bed is a good size to get started. You can always expand later.
You can be successful with any depth raised bed, or grow right in the ground with no raised bed at all. A deeper bed will be easier to manage, discourage four-footed pests, and give you more immediate success but does come with more upfront work and cost. A few cost cutting ideas: for deeper beds (~>12”) lay small logs and branches along the bottom of the bed before filling. Also try mixing Arizona Worm Farm Growing in the Garden Raised Bed Mix 50/50 with less expensive, good quality AZWF compost.
Do not mix wood chips, mulch, cardboard, or other woody materials into the soil. As they break down, these materials can cause nutrient deficiencies in your plants; they are fine to layer over the top as a mulch though.
Where to Put Your Raised Garden Bed
Observe your backyard microclimates. Locate your bed where it will get maximum sun exposure, morning sun if possible; afternoon shade in the hotter times of year is good too. You can always add shade later if needed. Stay back at least two feet - more if you have room - from east and south facing walls and windows; they reflect/radiate a lot of heat in the summer months.
You can still be successful in shady areas. If direct sun is at a premium, don’t be discouraged; there’s still a lot of veggies that you can grow.
Your raised bed will need regular water all year long, possibly daily in the summer. Make sure you have easy access to a water source, either by hose or automatic timer. Because veggie gardens normally require more frequent watering than typical Arizona low-water landscaping, we recommend adding a dedicated line/zone from your timer to your bed so you can customize the duration and frequency of watering.
Prepping the Area
When possible, be sure the soil beneath your raised bed drains well. Break up compacted soil as deep as you can with a garden fork or spade before filling your bed.
If you are covering grass or an area with high weed pressure, line the bottom of the bed with several layers of cardboard before filling.
You can’t grow healthy plants without healthy, living soil. Fill your beds with AZWF Growing in the Garden Raised Bed Mix. The locally made compost and worm castings in our mix contain beneficial microbes that will more easily survive in your garden, competing with disease and helping to break down organic matter, making nutrients more accessible to your plants.
Feed the soil, & your plants (The Soil Food Web)
Adding compost regularly, at least once per season, will provide readily available nutrients to your plants as well as provide additional beneficial microbes who will continue to process organics in your soil, continuing the release of nutrients.
Adding our aerated vermicompost tea to your soil will add more microbes as well as readily available nutrients. These microbes act as an external immune system for your plants and extend the feeding capacity of your soil.
Healthy, living soil eliminates the need for synthetic fertilizers; those fertilizers might quickly accelerate plant growth but will damage the delicate ecosystem in your soil, creating a dependence on a product that will leave your soil lifeless.
8430 S. 19th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85041 | (602) 622-7663