imafan26
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

Your mix looked like it would hold too much water. compost, peat moss and 2/3 native soil. If the native soil was clay it would be heavy.

Mixing in something to improve drainage will help like coarse sand, perlite doesn't work well in a raised bed. Here I would use crushed cinder because it is cheaper and easier to get than sharp sand. There is a lot of beach sand but that does not work because of all the salt. You would have to work in about 4 inches of sharp sand into the bed to start. You need to make sure that the soil in the bed is dry before you attempt to work it. Wet soil is hard to work and if it has a lot of clay it will ruin the texture.

I do think your plants were waterlogged but even phythoptora doesn't usually work that fast.

After you amend, water the bed and see how well it drains and how fast it dries. Don't plant anything in it until you have figured out the drainage and watering schedule.
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Fishman2014
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

I didn't end up doing that exact mix, but regardless I think you're right it ended up holding too much water.

I will look into getting crushed cinder (not even 100% sure what it is). Sand might be easier to obtain. Is there something here I can use? This place is local and I should be able to get something from them no problem, https://krcrock.com/wp/products-page/ .They have some sand, DG, and a few other things.

It might not of been Phythoptora, I am not 100% sure. I just looked up a bunch of pictures and read symptoms of it, and kind of just concluded it to be that. When I pulled the plants up (before they were fully dead) I noticed the roots were brown, and rotting. They weren't that way when I put them, they were all white and appeared to be healthy. Lets say worst case it was some bad fungi or something of that nature, does that mean the soil and bed are done for? Or if I fix the drainage problem can I put other plants in there? Actually, like I said before there are actually still a few plants in there. I stopped watering and am trying to dry the soil out a bit, just waiting to see what happens with them. Hope they aren't "infected."

One last question, I noticed deeper in the bed the soil gets really hot. Is that normal or was that from all the extra moisture and it was causing like a "boiling" effect? I don't have an exact temperature though.

Thank you in advance, it is very much appreciated.

imafan26
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

Crushed cinder is crushed lava rock, ie basalt. It can be quite sharp so you might not want to plant carrots in it but if the pieces are not large the rock is lighter than gravel and much more porous and drains well.

What you would be looking for is something called builder's sand. It is coarser than play sand. You would most likely find it at a trucking company that sells bulk construction materials like gravel, rock, and topsoil. Check the local yellow pages and ask. Make sure you get builders' sand not play sand. Smaller quantities of builder's sand can usually be found near the masonry aisle at places like lowe's or home depot, but if you are getting a lot of it it may be worthwhile to buy it from the trucking company. If you have a truck, they usually load it for you or you can have it delivered.

The company in your link does have sand, but I could not tell what kind of sand it was. You could ask them if it is the same as builder's sand.
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applestar
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

Did you use this?

- 3 ft³ compost/manure mix (1/3 ecoscraps, 1/3 steer manure, and 1/3 chicken manure?)

If so, the manure in the mix might be "raw"/fresh and not aged/composted, which could account for the heat. That maybe the culprit and "burned" the plants roots.
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Fishman2014
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

imafan26 wrote:Crushed cinder is crushed lava rock, ie basalt. It can be quite sharp so you might not want to plant carrots in it but if the pieces are not large the rock is lighter than gravel and much more porous and drains well.

What you would be looking for is something called builder's sand. It is coarser than play sand. You would most likely find it at a trucking company that sells bulk construction materials like gravel, rock, and topsoil. Check the local yellow pages and ask. Make sure you get builders' sand not play sand. Smaller quantities of builder's sand can usually be found near the masonry aisle at places like lowe's or home depot, but if you are getting a lot of it it may be worthwhile to buy it from the trucking company. If you have a truck, they usually load it for you or you can have it delivered.

The company in your link does have sand, but I could not tell what kind of sand it was. You could ask them if it is the same as builder's sand.
I did find this https://krcrock.com/wp/products-page/bla ... lava_rock/ but I don't think it's crushed. The pieces look a bit big I think.

I will head out to Home Depot this weekend and see if I can find the sand. When you said the masonry isle it actually got me thinking...I have a brick/paver patio that was taken up, and under it was sand. I think it's masons sand or that leveling sand, which I think it is too fine. I will definitely look into it all this weekend.
applestar wrote:Did you use this?

- 3 ft³ compost/manure mix (1/3 ecoscraps, 1/3 steer manure, and 1/3 chicken manure?)

If so, the manure in the mix might be "raw"/fresh and not aged/composted, which could account for the heat. That maybe the culprit and "burned" the plants roots.
I actually ended up not using the manure, I read some reviews and talked to a few people from where I was going to get it that said it wasn't fully aged. That kind of scared me so I just got the 1 ft³ of the ecoscraps.

imafan26
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

That much chicken or steer manure would also have a lot of salt and that would also cause problems and would have to be leached out. I rarely use manures, but when I do, I only add about a bag for every 100 sq. ft.
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Fishman2014
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

Yeah, that was actually another thing I read about it. You saying that confirms it for me. Who would of thought? I did do one thing right! :>

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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

Tell us exactly what you did use, and maybe take some pictures.

I use paver underlayment sand. It will be fine as long as it didn't/doesn't contain quick cement/mortar and wasn't constantly sprayed with herbicide.
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Fishman2014
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

I ended up using:

- About 2 ft³ of my native soil
- About 2 ft³ of Peat Moss - Link
- 1 ft³ of the EcoScraps - Link
- 3 ft³ bag of Garden Soil - Link
- 5 x 3 ft³ bags of Raised Bed Mix - Link
- Small bag of perlite, probably not enough but it was all they had in stock at the time.
- Two days later, I put a layer of mulch. I did leave a mulch free area around the plants though. Here is what I used - Link

I know those soils I used didn't get the best reviews, but I was desperate and didn't have many other options at the time. I think my biggest mistake was rushing to get it done. I really wanted to get the plants out of the containers before they got rootbound, and the rushing around is probably what ended up ultimately being the problem. Didn't even test the drainage.

I will also try to grab a picture later if I can.

imafan26
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

Perlite doesn't work in the soil the way it does in the pots and the amount you used was way too little to be of consequence.

I had a really difficult spot where I could get nothing to grow and I put a lot of perlite in it and when the perlite got together with the clay soil, it became a clod of perlite and clay and still nothing grew. I dug it out and used it to fill some holes in my yard instead and put in MG potting soil. It was a small area it only took a couple of bags but it worked better. That section of my bed is only about 2 ft x 4 ft x 8 inches. The MG potting soil was a good start but I still don't like the compaction of it, so I will be adding more coarse compost a little at a time. It drains well, so I am not concerned about that and I did not use moisture control. I'll see what happens in the rainy season, if it causes problems.
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Fishman2014
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

I still have three plants in there, and what seemed to have killed the other two isn't on these. The other two had gray like lesions that were kind of see through. Wish I took a picture before I tossed them. Not saying it was this, but it looked kind of like this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phytophthora_infestans

The last three plants, I haven't seen that on them. They just seem to be turning yellow, with some brown and wilting. It might be the starting of the same thing. I'm honestly not sure. Anyway, I've been removing the leaves that get that on them and I was able to snap a picture of one.

Image

imafan26
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

It still looks like fungal or bacterial infection most likely caused by over watering. The pale yellow leaves is what happens when plants don't get enough water either from dryness or because the roots rotted from over watering

Have you continued to water or have you cut back? Continuing to water a waterlogged soil will only make things worse.

Most people throw more water at plants that look sickly when it isn't always the problem. Test first before watering to make sure the soil a couple of inches down is almost dry before watering again.

Lightening up the soil will help it. If you suspect a soil borne fungal disease there is subdue and actinovate which help plants fend off soil fungi. I don't know about actinovate but subdue is very expensive but effective. Ultimately you need to change the conditions of the soil. Stop watering, keep turning the soil and expose it to light, let it dry out and add more drainage.
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Fishman2014
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

I have definitely stopped watering, I haven't really watered for a couple days (since I lost my two plants). I do check the soil everyday, and it is still moist throughout.

I moved some more of the mulch away from the plants when this all happened , but I think tomorrow I'm just going to remove it all for the time being. Last thing I want right now is anything helping to retain moisture and I'm going to have to anyway to mix in the sand/rock. So I will do that tomorrow and I will turn the soil like you said. Hoping I can get this all dried out and this weekend I can get something to fix the drainage problem. Heck, maybe there is even a chance of still saving these plants.

Also I never knew about those products, thank you for that. That might be something nice to have on hand. The subdue is a little out of my price range, I looked around and like you said it's expensive. Like $150+ expensive. I might give the Actinovate a try though. You're talking about this right? Link

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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

I've been turning and drying the soil out the past few days. Today I just got back from the hardware store and they really didn't have much for rocks or sand. I didn't see any builders sand, the only thing I saw was medium grade silica sand. This one here (LINK). Will that work? If not I think I'm just going to use that paver sand I have that Apple said he uses. Only problem is I'm not sure if it contains cement/motar, don't think it does but can't be sure.
Last edited by Fishman2014 on Mon Aug 25, 2014 12:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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applestar
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

Put some in a plastic cup. Add a little water to moisten (not sure how much). Does it get hot? set up?
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Fishman2014
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

I took three cups, put the same amount of sand in each and different amounts of water in them all. None of them got hot, or seemed to set. To me it just acted like "normal" sand when it got wet; it clumped/stuck just like wet sand at the beach.

It does get hot when it's sitting in the sun, but I think that's just because it's in the hot sun. Just trying to share as much info about it as I can. IDK, maybe that is of value :>

Here is a picture too, figured it couldn't hurt. Just a note, it's a pretty close up picture, it's not actually that coarse. It's more like a fine/medium sand.

Image

Fishman2014
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

I was finally able to find some more coarse sand. It was sold as concrete sand. I'm going to put it in tomorrow. I did ask the guy to make sure nothing was added, he said it was just plain old sand.

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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

I made my raised bed using cinderblocks, with cardboard at the bottom(to prevent the grass from growing up through my new soil; by now the cardboard has broken down). I then filled it with a mixture of topsoil and potting soil, but about 80% cow manure/compost.

Whenever I start a new "season", and plant new rows, I add two or three bags of cow manure/compost mix. Everything has been growing great on this! :)

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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

When you say "Raised Bed" I have to wonder if this is a bed with sides and it is placed on the ground and no bottom in it so the roots can go into the layers of ground under it, or is it like a pot with a bottom, and completely isolated from the ground such that the roots are confined to the "bed"???

If you study the meanderings of plant roots you will see that they go quite deep and spread out beyond the scope of the top growth. For sure if you are "pot " growing you need to use good soil and water frequently to give your plants what they need. The roots will for sure fill the whole container. If your raised bed is sitting on the existing ground and the roots can go into the layers below, you can be assured that the roots will go down into those lower levels too. They can find much water and nutrients in those layers too.

Looking for sand or topsoil? Look in the yellow pages for Concrete. Call a concrete company. They for sure have sand in any amount you want, and may also have access to topsoil. Hey, these guys also have trucks if you want a truck load of it. :)
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PatioGardenGuru
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

Thanks for chat about peat moss. I will definitely add some to my raised garden. Some of the soil I filled my garden with was full of clay. Do i need to do anything else to improve this or will the peat moss do the trick.

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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

We just had someone else writing in about clay in a raised bed: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... =4&t=59038.

If I were filling a raised bed (and I have done in the past), I would never put any clay soil in it. Think of a raised bed as a giant container/ planter. As such, drainage is critical. Clay holds moisture, packs down, drives air out, essentially turns in to brick over time.

Peat moss by itself won't help, because peat moss is also very moisture holding. Peat moss WITH some inorganic component like perlite, coarse sand, crushed gravel, crushed lava rock, pumice will help. (Or there are organics that have some of the same qualities of staying in loose particles and breaking down slowly, promoting drainage, such as pine bark chips, rice hulls.)

If you are just talking about one bed, I would just dig the clay out and start over.
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zanitablythe
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

I haven't had much success with a raised garden bed, and it may be because I live in such a hot climate (Texas). I ended up just planting stuff in the ground last year. However, next summer I want to try a raised garden bed again. I was just using manure in my raised garden bed, and I think I'll try using natural leaf mulch this time to give it more nutrients.

adabc
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

I will go to home depot to get some. I remember they have ,but not sure witch one is better.

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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

["He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wing, you will find refuge". Psalm 91:4] I am new to the raised bed forum and have learned a lot from y'all in a short period of time. My current interest is the best soil for my raised vegetable garden beds this Spring. My virgin vegetable gardening experience was in August 2014 when I decided to begin with a Fall/Winter garden. My raised beds are 29" high and free standing (no ground underneath), 2' wide, 8' long, and 1' deep. My new best friend became the county director of the Mississippi Cooperative Extension Service. If he didn't have the answer, he could obtain it quickly. Each of my two beds contained locally prepared and packaged potting soil. The soil in bed one was premium potting soil containing some compost. Bed 2 was comprised of another type potting soil entirely and not nearly as rich. Bed preparation began with placing gardening fabric on the bottom of the cedar bed planks (which had sufficient holes for drainage), 3" of pea gravel on top of that, and then filled with the chosen soil. Next, soil samples were taken. The soil in Bed 1 was too rich while Bed 2 was too poor. My MCES mentor's solution: mix each bed half and half, and the next sampling for both boxes was perfect. I still have thriving vegetables in both boxes! This year, I am adding Bed 3, using the same formula; however, I am wanting to amend the soil with cottonseed meal fertilizer, an organic by-product of Mississippi's cotton industry. I'm curious to know if others have had success with it. Your advice is welcomed. O:)

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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

rm Welcome! I use cotton burr, a bit different from the cotton seed. I buy it bagged at the garden center, and think source is TX. It's coarse, one reason I like it, and it enriches the soil. There seems to be an increase in worm activity where I use it.

Downside in using this, is the possible chemicals used in growing cotton. If you can find a gin that processes organic cotton, you are in luck. The gin people should be bagging that 'waste' and selling as Organic!
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imafan26
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

Cotton seed meal is actually a good source of slow release nitrogen but it takes several months for it to be broken down by soil microbes so you will need to put it in early and have other sources of nitrogen that would be more readily available to support early growth. It is an ingredient in Scotts' organic lawn fertilizer.

My raised garden bed was inherited when I bought the house. It was actually not taken care of very well since the house had been a rental for 10 years. I was pretty much clay soil and weeds. It was a lot of work getting through the compacted soil and yes clay is heavy and mucky and hard to work. I learned the hard way not to work clay when it is wet, not only is it messy and heavier, it ruins soil texture. When the soil dries, there are these clods which take forever to break up. I added sand, but not enough, I needed to add 50% sand and I added about 10%. I got cement clods. I started adding Big R, and it was easier since it was a lot lighter than sand to carry and it dried quickly and I added enough of it to get the soil very soft and draining well although it held on to water for a very long time and I watered on a schedule.

I did get things to grow very well though. Although then I pretty much used miracle grow every two weeks (2 pkgs) on the whole yard. I had huge greens and the orchids were growing well and blooming, but root crops were a bust. I got a lot of tops and no roots so I gave up on growing them.

Then in February 2003 we had 42 days and nights of rain. A lot of things drowned and I lost a lot of orchids. I couldn't use the miracle grow because the plants were already drowning. As a result the following year the orchids bloomed better. Of course the year after that I paid for that because less fertilizing meant fewer blooms the year after that. But, the rest of the yard still grew fairly well without so much fertilizer.

Since I became a MG in 2009, I have been getting more organic. I switched from Big R to compost, but smaller bags, so I was adding half the amount. The soil started getting harder to work. I have since corrected and add more now. I did soil tests on all of my garden plots and the community garden, home, and herb garden are all high in phosphorus and potassium so all I really need to add is nitrogen. It simplifies fertilizing and a lot cheaper too and since the organic material holds so much water, and my water bill is outrageous, I water daily when seeds or plants are just started but once the plants are established, especially this time of the year, the garden can go a couple of days without watering just fine.

Clay is not ideal to work with, but if you add a lot of organic matter over time, it can still be a very productive garden. It has taken a lot of years, and I have made more than a few mistakes along the way, but I have learned a lot gardening and I still am learning more by challenging myself to grow new things or try different techniques. I have changed the way I fertilize, and I have a lot of nectar plants so I have reduced my reliance on chemicals for pest control. I still use slug bait and seasonally need to treat the hibiscus and roses. I plant a scavenger crop after I plant corn to use up the excess nitrogen. Hey, I even got a daikon root a foot long in my home garden. It is half the size of a daikon in my community garden, but 20 years ago I would have had 3 ft tops and no roots.
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

I am not an expert in this field, but I think that a soil mix which has little fertilizer and extra nutrients added is practically perfect for growing vegetables like lettuce, peas, tomatoes etc. But if you want to have a healthy garden, free of any chemicals and harmful elements, I would suggest starting your own compost bin. You can put all kinds of organic waste in there, and get great fertiliser for your soil or potting mix.

ronniemargaret
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

Thanks. I've gotten so many suggestions, for which I am appreciative.

ronniemargaret
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

Thanks, Susan W. from Memphis! I located a company in Macon, MS that sells organic cotton burr to third party retailers, so I'm in luck. I'm saving the organic cotton seed meal as a fertilizer. Love this forum! So many helpful members. O:)

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jal_ut
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

I would be tempted to use about half your native soil and add some sand and peat. Compost too if you have any.
Clay gets a bad rap most of the time. It is not really that bad for growing things if you treat it properly. One thing for sure, do not ever work it when it is too wet or you will get clumps that won't break down all season.

In the valley where I now live, I have gardened on several lots, all were quite heavy in clay. It helps to add organic matter and some sand too if possible. Those clay soils have grown some mighty fine crops for me.

Also it is well to note that the roots of our garden plants go quite deep from 3 to 5 feet. So if you are not putting a root barrier, the roots of whatever you plant will be down in the native soils anyway.
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ronniemargaret
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

Thank you for the great advice. The advantages of my particular type raised vegetable bed are each bed is waist high, the cedar planks below the bed soil allows for good drainage, and there is a 3' distance between the bottom of that

Hotelguy26
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

Hi all,

New to the forum and need some help... Wanted to reply to this first instead of creating new...

I built an elevated garden bed, about 8x2.5 and about 14" deep. Looking to grow a bunch of herbs, and some vegetables (tomatoes, peppers mainly). The bed is elevated about 6" off the ground with no interaction with the native soil (I did this because our soil is horrible).

Looking for the best soil mix for herbs and vegetables. I don't really have access to any truck options or natural soil options, so I'll be going bags. More than likely Home Depot or Lowes.

I have access to the following:

Topsoil (the bagged kind)

Miracle Grow Garden Soil for Flowers & Vegetables
https://m.homedepot.com/p/Miracle-Gro-2- ... 204502220/

Premier Peat Moss
https://m.homedepot.com/p/Premier-3-cu-f ... 100626048/

Black Kow Composted Cow Manure
https://m.homedepot.com/p/Black-Kow-50-l ... 202287053/

The topsoil is obviously the cheapest, so would prefer to use that the most, but being my first garden bed, I'm open to all suggestions.

Can anyone suggest a good mix out of those?

Hotelguy26
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

Oops... I lied. I just ran a quick google search and found a company near me that has "Topsoil Plus" which is a blend of topsoil/loam and compost. 70% topsoil/loam and 30% compost (ish). They said that I could fill the entire bed with that. Is that true?

Here's the link:

https://www.harvestpower.com/topsoil-plus/

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jal_ut
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

Yes, I think you would be OK filling the bed with that mix. "Topsoil Plus"
Be careful with manures. Best to add them in the fall and till it in and let it break down over winter.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

Stourme
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

I have the most scientific method for checking my soils...

I go out in my garden and dig down with my bare hand...if I can dig down easily then I know I'm approaching the right texture.

I check 3" below the soil line 24hrs after watering, if it's damp... I'm probably good.

I check the look and feel of the soil, if I see broken down plant matter then I'm good.

Then when the plants are 3" tall, give or take, I'll side dress with compost or 16-16-16 fertilizer.

Grass clippings are your friend. Mulch with grass clippings and work it into your soil.

This method has never failed me :)

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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

Grass clippings are a good source of Nitrogen for your soil. They are not very complete as a soil amendment, unlike compost which has all the macro and micro/trace nutrients and soil biology to process it. You also have to be a bit careful with grass clippings as mulch, because they can pack down and mat at which point they tend to shut out air and water and don't break down well. I like to mix grass clippings and pulled weeds (greens) with straw or wood chips, shredded paper, etc (browns) for a nutritionally complete mulch.
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Susan W
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

I always chuckle when I see Grass Clippings. Am I the only one who leaves them be to nourish the lawn? I have the standard mulcher-mower, cut high, and sometimes things get thick. I just wisk any thick clippings around. Grass is green, haven't watered this season, but then we have had some rain!
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Rairdog
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

Susan W wrote:I always chuckle when I see Grass Clippings. Am I the only one who leaves them be to nourish the lawn? I have the standard mulcher-mower, cut high, and sometimes things get thick. I just wisk any thick clippings around. Grass is green, haven't watered this season, but then we have had some rain!

It depends. I have 3 to 5 acres to mow depending on what neighbors help out. I can collect a bunch early on and mulch it in at the same time. Later on I just let it grow out for the bees, pollinators and Geese. The trick is to let the weeds and natives do their thing. I have never watered, fertilized or put down weed killer. The more weeds the more green that works together. Weed free green grass is an eyesore once you understand how mother nature works together. Most just fight her.

Back on topic. Search for an organic leaf compost mixed with topsoil.

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windandvane
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

rainbowgardener wrote:Grass clippings are a good source of Nitrogen for your soil. They are not very complete as a soil amendment, unlike compost which has all the macro and micro/trace nutrients and soil biology to process it. You also have to be a bit careful with grass clippings as mulch, because they can pack down and mat at which point they tend to shut out air and water and don't break down well. I like to mix grass clippings and pulled weeds (greens) with straw or wood chips, shredded paper, etc (browns) for a nutritionally complete mulch.
This might be a funny sounding question to ask, but it's nevertheless something I think about when making mulch and adding shredded brown paper - do you think the printing ink on the brown paper affects anything at all in the mulch chemically?
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imafan26
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Re: Best Soil For Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

Most newpapers now use soy based ink for the black and white pages. so are o.k. for composting as long as you avoid the colored glossy paper which has other chemicals on it. Most of the inks used today are less toxic than before and should be o.k. The amount of ink should be a very small quantity when mixed with the other browns and greens. I have used shredded computer paper in the worm bin and it has not killed the worms so I think it would be o.k. in a compost pile.
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