susane22
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new organic gardener needs help with soil question

Hi,
I have spent hours online trying to figure out what soil to use. I know it's a big topic and the best is to use my own compost. However, I only began my compost this week and it will not be ready in time for planting in late March. I need to buy some soil for my raised beds.
I want organic (no pesticides/herbicides) safe toxin free soil. What company does anyone recommend? I know "organic" is misused and misleading in many cases, which I why I need your help on this. Also, do I buy top soil or potting soil?
Anyone's help will be much appreciated!!
Susan

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farmerlon
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If you're going to till or plow your garden spot, you might (?) be able to get started by amending the native soil with peat moss.
Depending on your location in Tennessee, you may have a clay soil, and the peat will help to loosen and aerate that soil.
By "plowing under" or "tilling in" the native sod, that might (?) make the soil fertile enough for you initial garden; and you can add compost later as it comes available to you.

That would be one (of many) ways to possibly start off organically.

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applestar
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What size garden are you planning to plant this year?

susane22
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Hi,
We plan on doing two 4x4 raised cedar beds - veggies. The soil is hard, clay like and red (we live in East TN on Douglas Lake). I don't think the existing soil is a good plan. My main question is:

Is there any non-toxic soil on the market that I can buy for this? And what kind? Top soil or potting soil? I just need to know the least mildest offender...as I know that compost is the answer and we'll have that ready hopefully by the fall planting.
My dad bought Miracle Grow Organic Soil and I know that organic is a tricky and misused term and MG is a big corporation who uses many chemicals. I may take it back...need to hear from experienced gardeners on what to use in the interim period??
Thank you!
Susan

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rainbowgardener
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I don't have enough information to recommend companies, but I would get mostly topsoil, with a bit of potting soil to lighten it up. Put down your topsoil, potting soil, and any other organic materials you can come up with -- some grass clippings, fall leaves if there's any still around, well aged composted manure, etc. Mix it all together.
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applestar
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Sheet mulching is my favorite way to start a raised bed. I "fork" the clay subsoil first. Here is an older post with step-by-step description:
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=84563&highlight=sheet+mulching#84563

susane22
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Thanks for the suggestions. but Applestar's suggestion was for a next year's garden. And I need something next month. I'll just use my own intuition when choosing the best soil to buy then. Hasn't anyone else every been in this boat...just starting out, no compost yet...what soil do you buy that's organic??
Thanks -
Susan

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farmerlon
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susane22 wrote:...My dad bought Miracle Grow Organic Soil and I know that organic is a tricky and misused term and MG is a big corporation who uses many chemicals. ...Susan
It's most likely the Miracle Grow ORGANIC Soil will be fine to fill your raised beds and begin gardening.
Even though Miracle Grow has the reputation of being a "big chemical" company, more of those are jumping on the "organic" bandwagon.

I looked up the "Organic Choice Garden Soil" at their web site, and they say ... "Contains an exclusive mix of 100% organic ingredients: compost, sphagnum peat moss and manure. Natural fertilizers provide both quick- and slow-release feeding to get plants off to a fast start and keep them growing. Delivers nearly double the yields of topsoil naturally".
I see nothing that looks scary there; I think you're good to go with that product.

Best of luck with the garden ... say hello to all the Jefferson County folk for me!

cynthia_h
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Here's a thread with some discussion of the Miracle Grow Organic Soil when it first came out on the market. There's also a link to a second thread here at the forum about the same product:

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=125591

Hope you find a product that works for you soon.

(And have you set up your own compost for next time?)

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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applestar
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I've sheet mulched then allowed about 1 month mellowing time and planted and did OK. Cardboard doesn't break down as well with the short prep time but layers of newsprint shipping paper does. I used straw and spoiled hay as mulch on top. After 3 to 4 wks, earthworms were having parties all over and under the paper.

Used turned over sod on the bottom, topsoil dug out from the paths down to the clay subsoil mixed with compost for the one I made last year. Other times when I needed bagged stuff due to own compost shortage, I used mushroom compost, Gardeners Gold organic Bumpercrop soil amendment, and bagged topsoil. Gardeners Gold sells organic potting soil that I really like. Another one I like is Pro-mix Ultimate organic potting soil. both very pricy though. A couple of other organic potting soil brands were discussed recently by a few other members.... 8)

Oh yes -- don't forget to stop at your local Starbucks and ask for used coffee grounds. :wink:

Don't buy soggy flattened bags of bagged anything as they have gone anaerobic. If the product smells sour on opening, don't use. Trust me I speak from experience. :roll:

Bobberman
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I work with bad soil all the time! In a raised bed like you have what I would do depends on how high from the surface the bed will be! If you ae using a 8 inch board I would dig the 6 inches of soil from each bed and mixe it with your compost pile. I would go to the lake and get a few buckets of sea weed for the base of the raised beds! I would then mix about 8 to 10 inches of strained top soil and sand and add some peat moss to the mix and you are ready to plant! Later in the summer add the compost you are making! A mild ferilizer is optional. That is what I would do!!
I enjoy fishing ,gardening and a solar greenhouse! carpet installation repair and sales for over 45 years! I am the inventor of the Bobber With A Brain - Fishing Bobber!

heirloomgardengirl
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new organic gardener needs help with soil

Many companies locally sell organic compost depending on where you live. Depending on how large you are planning to make your garden a lot of companies sell compost online to be shipped, but shipping can be expensive. If neither of these options work for you, try mixing in steer manure as well as planting cover crops to increase the organic matter.

gershon
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Susanne,


I'll pass on something that worked well for me last year as an experiment. I took 10 feet of hog fence which is very inexpensive. I made a bin out of this which will be 3 feet across. I filled it with all green composting material, let it settle a few days, filled it again and let it settle, then I put six inches of dirt on the top.

I grew beans, peppers and parsnips this way. They grew very well. I didn't use any fancy dirt. Just some I scraped up from around the yard. Over the summer, they will settle down, and in the spring you can put some plastic over the top and you have a ready made small greenhouse.

Here are 3 pictures of peppers, beans and parsnips growing in them. I got a little lazy about pictures at the end of the season, so you won't see a vegetables yet, but they did well.

I have about 10 of these scattered around the yard in places I can't get the tiller to, or on the sidewalk on the side.

As long as I'm passing on tips, here is my favorite. The scuffle hoe. I go over the whole garden each day except my day of rest and I don't get any weeds.

DoubleDogFarm
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gerhson,

If you are short on time and have some extra money, I would purchase a Hog Ring Gun and a box of D rings. It's made a big difference for us in cage building, fencing and gates.
https://www.gemplers.com/product/160240/Hog-Ring-Pistol-grip-Gun-Stapler

I really like the stirrup hoe and my grubbing hoe.

Eric

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applestar
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Cheapskate that I am, for my small projects, I just cut one end of the fence with long pieces sticking out that I wrap around the other end with pliers. I also save extra pieces I cut off for other connecting uses. :wink:

I save the thin gauge wire they come wrapped with too. I guess I'm a packrat :roll: but I keep remembering something I read in a historical fiction or space pioneering scifi novel: That exuded wire is one thing that's difficult to manufacture (on a small scale?). Don't even know if that's based on fact or not... but I save them. :D

susane22
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Gershon, your pics were not posted. I found some organic dirt and mushroom compost that I will use as well as rent a till to use some of our clay soil. This should be fine and then add in compost as it's ready.
thanks for everyone's help.
oh, one question or two...: I just planted the seeds into peat cups yesterday. I put in 2-3 seeds per cup of each veggie and then I'll cut the one or two that are the weaklings....is this correct? My mom said this would interrupt the root system.
And, I put the peat cups in the sun room next to a window. Do they need to be covered?
Thanks!

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gixxerific
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Do you have a truck? Or no somebody with one. There has to be a nursery around that sells bulk topsoil or compost. Trying to fill even a small area with bagged soil can get expensive very fast.

cynthia_h
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Around here, it's possible to rent (I think?) U-Haul pick-ups by the hour. If you cost it out in a truckload vs. bags, the truckload--even renting!--may come out cheaper.

Or you could use the time-honored method of finding a friend with a truck, offering pizza/beer/lunch of choice for the favor. :wink:

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

Sunflower7
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susane22, I was asking exactly same question you are asking.
I am going to order 4x6 raised bed made of ceder.
Yes, how can we find organic clean top soil without toxic chemicals mixed when people don't have good soil to plant vegetables and fruit trees?
My plan is to collect soil in my vegetable garden and mix with aged cow manure, coffee ground, peat moss, etc to amend soil to put in my raised bed.
It is very hard to find good organic clean top soil therefore it is better for me to use safe soil in my veg garden.
Man who lives in next door has flower bed and his soil is so fluffy and rich.
He said he got organic top soil from Wal Mart.
I guess it is ok to use top soil for flower garden but when we use for vegetable garden, we need to be much more careful knowing we are growing foods.
gardening is my hobby

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quiltbea
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When I started gardening for the first time in spring 2009, I had my son build my 4' X 4' raised beds with 1x2x12" lumber. I ordered organic garden loam from a nearby company. Filled the beds.
Added peat moss, and organic cow manure compost that I bought by the bagful, plus amendments like greensand and limestone and worked it all in together.

It gave me a bountiful crop even though we had torrentail rains that spring that ruined many row gardens in this state. I had lots of veggies for my family. The soil was healthy and the beds raised enough to allow excess water to run off. The only thing that didn't make it was my corn which I sowed in a separate hilled area, not raised beds. Too much rain.

I got my information from Mel Bartholemew's gardening book, Square Foot Garden, and I'm so glad I did. Its much easier to handle raised beds, easier to weed and water, conserves water, and easy to amend soil. Each time I harvest a plant, I add a cup of compost (bought by the bagful at first) to my square foot to get ready for the next crop.

So check neighbors and stop at someone's garden and ask where they get their compost or garden loam. Check the yellow pages and Craigslist. Ask co-workers if they know any sources. They're out there but sometimes take lots of questions to find.

Good luck.



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