BlazersandWildcats
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Raised Bed Garden - How Much Soil or Nutrients to Add?

Okay, completely new to the Gardening scene and know nothing about gardening. I need some of you experts advice. I'll share my ideas and goals with you and will be receptive of any advice or changes to my plan that any of you might have!

First, my goals. My goal is to have a raised bed with a mixture of plants. I am hoping to get a total of six plants. Three in back, Three in front.

I'm hoping to learn to plant a mixture starting with two tomato plants, two strawberry plants, and two pepper plants, for a total of 6 plants. I'm planning to plant them in a raised bed with the dimensions of 10' Feet, 8' Feet, 12" Deep.

I'm planning to first prep the soil/area before even attempting to build the raised bed. I'm planning on pre-digging 12" inches deep in across the area where the bed will be.

In this process I will planning to break up the soil, pull out the rocks and weeds. At this step should I add something to the existing soil, such as nutrients? I plan to then to put together the raised bed with the dimensions mentioned above.

Then comes my next question where I'm completely new/lost. How much fresh organic soil should I top off the bed with? Assuming that the soil below the bed is 12" of good quality soil. Should I fill the whole bed with high quality soil? I'm assuming so considering it appears the soil plays a major role in the growth? If this is the case, can someone point me in a direction for recommendations in getting this much soil? I'm trying to put together the idea and am willing to listen to anyone with an knowledge in this area!

As of right now, I'm trying to get a better understanding up the setting up process and also gain some ideas and knowledge! Thank you to anyone that is willing to share!

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Completely New.... All help is welcomed!

To start with, people making raised beds, don't usually make them that big, because then you would have to walk around in it to get to your plants. Perhaps two 8x4' beds with paths in between them? 4 feet is about as wide as it can be and still reach in to the center.

Your plan sounds good, except that you do need good soil to fill your beds with. Perhaps some top soil, amended with compost, well aged composted manure, and maybe a few bags of potting soil to lighten the mixture up.

Even if it were two 8 x 4' beds that is room for well more than the six plants you mentioned.

However, you didn't say where you are. In much of the US, it is a bit late to be planting tomatoes and peppers. If you can buy big plants from a good nursery, perhaps. From seed it is four months to a ripe tomato and probably more for peppers. From ordinary sized transplants maybe take a month off that. So it depends on how far away you are from when fall frost might come back.

You would be better off doing some quicker summer things, like maybe beans, zucchini and then at end of summer replanting with cool weather stuff for a fall crop.

Strawberries are perennials that come back every year and spread. They are best given their own plot where they can stay undisturbed.

PS Welcome to the forum, glad you found us! :)
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Completely New.... All help is welcomed!

Any response?

Was it clear what I said about making them smaller? Even if you don't care whether you walk on your soil (some people think it is good to keep from compacting the soil, some people don't think that is real important), since you will be buying soil, there's no reason to buy soil just to walk on-- you would have to have paths. If you make beds with paths between them, you can dig out some of the topsoil from the paths to help fill the beds.

Let us know where you are located.

Is the area where your bed(s) will be in full sun?
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BlazersandWildcats
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Re: Completely New.... All help is welcomed!

Sorry I've been unable to respond sooner. I completely understand your idea of the two smaller beds. It makes complete sense to me just the way you said it. I appreciate that tip greatly! As for location, we are located in Central Texas area, Austin to be exact. Whether is pretty warm here year around, but at rare times we will have our cool weather fronts come through. The beds will be exposed to a great amount of sunlight. Weather is dry here, but definitely plan to attend to them. Could you recommend anything to grow in late fall? I forgot to mentioned we were planning to go ahead with some decent pre-grown plants from a local nursery that is very reputable for having healthy plants. And to clear up the soil question, before framing the bed, we want to dig up the soil in the ground correct? We plan to run a test on the soil? If the soil is decent, should we only fill the remaining 12" depth of the bed (or a little less) with organic soil? Or would it be possible to make a mixture of soil? I also plan to use compost and feed it some nutrients. Anything else I'm missing? All your help is greatly appreciated! And I'm glad I found this place, the forums are very subjective and make it easy to find exactly what your looking for. :-()

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Completely New.... All help is welcomed!

Fill your bed to the top; it will settle in a little while anyway. Yes you can make a mixture of your native topsoil, with compost, well aged composted manure, some potting soil, etc.

You are in zone 8b (USDA cold hardiness zones). That tells you nothing except that your winters are warm. It is most helpful for what perennials and trees survive your winters. But it is also used as the basis for some of the planting guides:

https://veggieharvest.com/calendars/zone-8.html

here's a guide that Travis Co. TX does:

https://www.co.travis.tx.us/agext/garden/planting/

These should give you a start on what to plant when.
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BlazersandWildcats
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Re: Completely New.... All help is welcomed!

Rainbowgardner,

Hey, would you know what size this would be by chance? I was hoping to have something similar to this, but I can completely understand where your coming from with the smaller size. We decided to do two about half of this size, but would like to know the dimensions of this in case we decided to go larger for a future bed? It appears this bed is pretty big, holding at least 10 plants. Thanks for any info you may share!

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Completely New.... All help is welcomed!

:?:

What is a "this"?

You can put 4 or 5 tomato plants in an 8x4 ft bed and still have room to put other stuff around the edges.

You can easily put 6 pepper plants in an 8x4 bed with room around the edges (or in the middle for taller stuff with peppers on the edges)

If all goes well, that should produce all the tomatoes and peppers a family can use.
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BlazersandWildcats
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Re: Completely New.... All help is welcomed!

Rainbow Gardner,

I have one more quick question for you since you seem like your very experienced and been doing this for a long time! I found a product online with some excellent reviews and some promising gains. Sea Magic Seaweed Extract.

Can you tell me is this product worthwhile ordering? Or is there a place which sells this locally if it is worthwhile? Thanks for any help!

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Completely New.... All help is welcomed!

Yes 4x8 and 6x8 would be good guesses for the bed sizes.

I haven't used the Sea Magic personally, but it should be good stuff. Just understand that it isn't actually fertilzer. It provides micro-nutrients, minerals, amino acids, etc and it helps the plants absorb the nutrients that are in the soil. If your soil is fertile already (and since you will be building yours from scratch, you can make sure it is :) ) that would be all you need. In later years, you would also have to be adding something, like compost, that supplies some basic nutrients.

Start a compost pile! :) Best thing you can do for your garden. Won't help you now, but by next spring planting you will have a lot of wonderful homemade compost.
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applestar
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Re: Completely New.... All help is welcomed!

Yeah, I think similar products would be kelp meal or liquid kelp.
Other micronutrient/mineral sources include green sand, granite dust, rock phosphate depending on the source.

You can also get liquid kelp mixed with some kind of fish-based liquid as nitrogen source for fertilizer. Two types of fish fertilizer -- heat processed fish or hydrolyzed (enzyme digested) fish: Hydrolyzed is supposed to be better. I don't like the fishy smell and some people have reported that the fish ingredient attracts animals.

Liquid kelp and kelpmeal mixed with water initially smells like the beachfront, but it can sometimes attract flies as it "ages". All in all, I liked using kelpmeal as soil amendment or AACT ingredient better. I don't have any/didnt get any this year.
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