Chankins
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Do I need some kind of top soil in the mix for raised bed?

I am brand new to raised bed gardening. I was reading info on soil and the Mel's mix is what I decided on. 1/3 compost 1/3 Peet moss and 1/3 vermiculite. I bought leaf compost from local site and remaining items @ local box store but not mixed them together yet. I have read so many things about soil now I'm confused :( Do I need some kind of top soil in the mix?

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Raised bed gardening

Well, true Mel's mix would be fine. But Mel's mix specifies "mixed composts." If you just have the leaf compost, it doesn't have a lot of nitrogen (N) and the N it has is locked up in the leaf structure and slow release as the leaves continue to break down. It would be good if you could add some worm castings or well aged composted manure (e.g. Black Kow) to your mix. Otherwise, plan to be fertilizing regularly with a more quick release N source like fish emulsion, blood meal, etc.

Are your beds sitting on top of soil? How deep are they?

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GardenThrive
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Re: Raised bed gardening

I'm building new raised beds this year, so I'm having to mix up more soil too. I've always used Mel's mix in my beds and had great success. As Rainbowgardener said, you will need to vary the types of compost you use in the mix to make sure your plants get all of the nutrients they need. I use Black Kow composted manure, Black Kow mushroom compost, worm castings, and a few of the cheap bags of composted forest products which I think is what you already have. You should be able to find all of those at the big box stores or a nursery. No top soil is needed. Once you mix everything together you're good to go, and will have a high quality mix that will naturally fertilize you plants. I also leave the bottom of my raised beds open (no weed cloth) so that the beneficial worms can work their way up into the soil. I put down a double layer of cardboard underneath the beds extending out a few inches from all sides and soak it down with water to kill all of the grass and weeds.

Chankins
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Re: Do I need some kind of top soil in the mix for raised be

My beds are 2x16' and 16" deep I put cardboard on the bottom. Will they big enough? I have two of them and will be feeding two ppl so I didn't want to plant more than I could eat. My usual downfall in planting a garden in the past was grass and weeds taking over :( because my garden is in a place in the yard that has very thick grass that just keeps coming back no matter what I do, that's why I had my husband make boxes this year. Thanks for your input. I will be going to get the black kow, I saw that when shopping.

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GardenThrive
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Re: Do I need some kind of top soil in the mix for raised be

Two of that size bed should be plenty enough for 2 people. The 16 " depth will be good for growing most plants including many of the root vegetables such as potatoes and carrots. I hardly ever get weeds in my raised beds except when I cut grass next to them and the occasional grass seeds fall in, but even then they pull out with no effort at all due to the loose soil structure. There are many benefits for raised beds but if you have ever weeded a garden all summer in 100 degree heat I think you'll agree that no weeding is definitely one of the best. Good luck on your garden and let us know if you have any more questions. :D

Chankins
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Re: Do I need some kind of top soil in the mix for raised be

Iam really glad I found this forum!! Thanks so much for your help :D

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