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LH 124: Powerful Tips for Raised Bed Gardening

Getting the power of raised beds without even breaking out the power tools.

You’ve heard me talk about the importance of building healthy soil here on the podcast many times. (Most recently on Episode 123 with Mark Highland).

But what if you really don’t have much soil in your backyard to begin with? Maybe you only have cement or pavement. Should you let that stop you?


Or what if you’re tired of stooping down in your soil and you’d LOVE to garden a little higher up – perhaps while sitting or even standing?

But here’s the kicker…

What if I told you that you can get a higher yield of food grown in a raised bed than you can get in the ground?

Shocking…but true!

Listen…raised bed gardening is not a magic pill. But raised beds certainly can take care of ton of issues that hold people back from gardening.

And I want to make sure you are armed with all the pros and cons so you can tell if it’s right for you.

This week, I brought on Tara Nolan to share some innovative ideas for creating raised beds.

She has tips and hints that can really make the whole process super easy.  You see, she literally wrote the book on the topic. And I just love the way she always thinks outside the planter box…so to speak. 🙂


You will learn:

  • How raised beds can help you overcome bad soil
  • About a recent study proving raised beds will increase your yields (This one surprised me!)
  • Why you DON’T need power tools to have success
  • The many benefits in controlling weeds, pest and more
  • Creative examples of building material you can use
  • Why you need to be so cautious with recycled wood
  • How to reduce the cost of filling the beds with good soil
  • Innovative ways to make raised beds from upcycled objects

Tara Nolan:

Tara Nolan is a garden writer, author, editor and speaker. Her work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, Best Health magazine, CBC Life and Garden Making.

Her first book, Raised Bed Revolution: Build it, Fill it, Plant it… Garden Anywhere!, was published by Cool Springs Press in 2016 and is an Amazon best seller. In 2013, she co-founded the popular gardening website Savvy Gardening with three other writers. It won Gold for Best Overall Digital Media at the GWA Media Awards in August, 2017.

Tara was also the award-winning web editor of Canadian Gardening magazine’s website for six years. Tara is the social media editor of the Canadian Garden Council and volunteers at the Royal Botanical Garden.



Resources & Links Mentioned:

Raised Bed Revolution * – Tara’s book

Savvy Gardening – Tara’s website

Gardener’s Supply Company

Lee Valley Tools

Wooly Pockets by WallyGro – fabric wall pockets

Smart Pots

Calculating The Soil You Need:

If you want to order your soil in bulk, you will need to know how many cubic yards you require. (They typically deliver cubic yards)

To get this calculation:

  1. Measure each raised bed length, width and depth in feet.
  2. Multiply those numbers together for each bed. That is your cubic FEET measurement
  3. If you have more than one bed, add all your cubic feet together.
  4. Divide the total number by 27 (because there are 27 cubic feet of soil in one cubic YARD).
  5. That final number is your total cubic YARDS you need to order.


It’s easier to see an example, so here you go…

If you have two raised beds that are 6 feet long, 3 feet wide and  3 feet deep, then each raised bed would hold 54 cubic feet of soil (6 x 3 x 3).

Since you have two of those beds, you would need 54 + 54 = 108 cubic feet of soil.

To determine how much that is in cubic YARDS, you would just divide by 27.

So you need to order 108/27 = 4 cubic feet of soil.

Hope that helps!



Click here for the full transcript for Episode #124

*denotes an affiliate link

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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy®. For 9 years, Theresa was the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two sons and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.