NJ Bob
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Location: Central NJ, Zone 7A

Amending raised garden soil

I have a 4 x 4 raised garden that I started last year. I just used store-bought garden soil and had good results with some tomato plants. In the fall I put down a layer of homemade compost and on top of that some mowed up leaves (which I've since raked off). Are there any other thing else I should be adding?

autonomousgardener
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Location: Manchester, NH USA

Re: Amending raised garden soil

Put the leaves back.

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ElizabethB
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Location: Lafayette, LA

Re: Amending raised garden soil

NJ Bob - welcome to the forum.

It sounds like you are trying a modified version of SFG.

I am a long time SFG enthusiast. In the beginning I thought I could skip steps and just use the intensive planting technique without really following Mel's guidelines.

With age, experience and hopefully some acquired wisdom I now follow Mel's plan much closer than I used to. Mel put many years into research and experimentation to come up with a perfect system. "If it ain't broke don't fix it." :> Check out the web site.

Major points:

Interior measurement of your boxes - 4' x 4' x 6"/8"
Spend the $ on commercial grade, woven landscape cloth to line your boxes with. The cheap stuff at big box stores is just that - cheap. You get what you pay for.
Use Mel's mix - a soil less mixture of 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat and 1/3 horticultural vermiculite. You will have a weed free garden.
Vertical gardening to maximize you space
Staggered planting dates to extend your growing season
Plant vegetables that are region specific at the correct time for your region
Get the book - there are 2 - 1st and 2nd editions. I have both. If you get one get the 2nd edition.

If you really want to garden start a compost bin (or 2). Check out the composting forum.

Since your box is started you can utilize what you have but do put the leaves back in - turned in - not just set on top. You will need to monitor your soil nitrogen level. Have a soil test done through your County Extension Office. WELL worth the money ($10 - $20).

Get the book, and start a second box. Use Mel's mix. I make my own but it is available on line. Compare the results. Nothing to lose and lots of knowledge and experience to gain.

Good luck
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

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ElizabethB
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Location: Lafayette, LA

Re: Amending raised garden soil

NJ Bob

It would be helpful if you edited your profile and included your county and state. Your USDA zone is subject to major regional variations. It does not reflect your actual growing conditions. Providing the forum members with your county and state will result in better, more specific information. :cool:
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

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applestar
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Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: Amending raised garden soil

Is there a bottom/barrier to the soil underneath or is the raised bed directly on the soil, and what kind of soil? Do you intend to till/turn the soil?

I agree the leaves could stay especially if they are gray when dry or black when wet and mostly broken down in which case they can even be mixed in, or if they are brown and undecomposed, you can use it as mulch after planting.

What do you plan to plant here this year? I think I would start by planting peas for the nitrogen fixing rhizobium. But any other additions will depend in part to what you plan to grow.

...huh... I was going to write more but what I'll say will depend on "bottom" or "bottomless".
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

NJ Bob
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Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:08 am
Location: Central NJ, Zone 7A

Re: Amending raised garden soil

This is not really a SFG bed per se. It's a bottomless bed that I had 4 tomato plants in last year. This year I was thinking maybe 2 tomato and 2 pepper plants with perhaps a few basil plants sprinkled in.

Susan W
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Location: Memphis, TN

Re: Amending raised garden soil

If this were mine, and I have several 4 x 4 beds adjoining, would amend. I would put in a bag of poo (I like Blak Kow) and a bag of compost -cotton burr or the natures helper brand. Turn that in with your home grown compost, leaves. I am also adding some Epsoma -tone product which helps to build the soil as a living mass. And plant away!
Have fun!
Susan

imafan26
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Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Amending raised garden soil

I don't have many browns, so if i use newspaper for my browns 17:1 C:N ratio, how thick a layer of shredded newspaper and how thick should the green layer be?
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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