Casie Becker wrote:I second that suggestion. Also, if you've got transportation you might try looking or posting a request for soil/chips/manure on craigslist. Took less than 24 hours for my family to be contacted by a small horse breeder (small operation, large horses) when we were looking for manure.
I see posts offering 'fill' frequently on craigslist Combine that with manure and give it a little time to settle, you'd be above the quality of most 'top soil' that is sold these days.
Jami McBride wrote:Yes, do put large wood pieces at the bottom of your bed, but do not put in wood chips. Instead save the chips for topping off the soil in the bed after the plants have reached a few inches well above the soil and chips. 6 - 8" in total height is good.
The wood you put in should be seasoned (aged/old) so as to not draw to much nitrogen from the surrounding soil and plants.
For my first bed on the farm I went around and topped the old tree stumps left by previous land owners. These were well seasoned and worked perfectly. If you don't have access to this type of thing you can advertise in Craigslist as mentioned, that you will haul aged wood laying on the ground. Many people do not like downed branches and logs that have been left to long exposed to the soil for burning in a fireplace/stove, so they just make a burn pile out of them. Sometimes even just driving around and asking can land you a great haul.
You can also add some sand and aged manures or compost to extend the soil volume. I have lots of clay, that's all my soil is.... so I added clay, sand and aged manure to a bit of purchased garden soil extending it 4x - add whole wood in the bottom and a lot of garden beds can be made. I also dressed the top of my beds with aged wood chips I had dumped free on site. If I see a tree service I stop and talk them into dumping at my place