GayRioGrower
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Organic raised bed soil recipe

Hello everybody, I'm new to this forum and new to outdoor growing. I have a really good recipe for some plants I grow indoors and was wondering if it would work for different plants outdoors. The recipe is 5 parts canadian sphagnum peat, 3 parts perlite, and 2 parts earthworm castings, with 2 TBS of pulverized dolomite lime per gallon for ph stability and additional cal/mag. Would this be a good soil mix for mixed veggies in an outdoor raised bed? I can post my fertilizing program if necassary. Thanks for any help.
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GayRioGrower
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I feed my plants with either bat guano teas, or i add them to my soil mix and let it cook, which normally gets me through a whole grow. These are recipes I found on the web and work very well, so I'll just copy and paste them. Can you guys tell me what you think?


Guano Tea and Kelp:

Seedlings less than 1 month old nute tea mix-
Mix 1 cup earthworm castings into 5 gallons of water to make the tea.
Add 5 tbs. Black Strap Molasses.
Use it to water your seedlings with every 3rd watering.

Veg mix-
1/3 cup Peruvian Seabird Guano (PSG)
1/3 cup High N Bat Guano (Mexican)
1/3 cup Earth Worm Castings (EWC)
5 tsp. Maxicrop 1-0-4 powdered kelp extract
(That makes the "dry mix". You can make all you want and save it to use later.)
Mix with water @ 1 cup of dry mix into 5 gallons of water to make the tea.
To that 5 gallons of tea add:
5 tbs. Liquid Karma
5 tbs. Black Strap Molasses
Use it to water with every 3rd watering.

Flowering nute tea mix:
2/3 cup Peruvian Seabird Guano
2/3 cup Earth Worm Castings
2/3 cup High P Guano (Indonesian or Jamaican)
5 tsp. Maxicrop 1-0-4 powdered kelp extract
(That makes the "dry mix". You can make all you want and save it to use later.)
Mix with water @ 2 cups of dry mix into 5 gallons of water to make the tea.
To that 5 gallons of tea add:
5 tbs. Liquid Karma
5 tbs. Black Strap Molasses
Use it to water with EVERY watering.


When I add my amendments to the soil, I use the following recipe:


40 gallons used soil
4 cups alfalfa meal
4 cups bone meal
4 cups kelp meal
4 cups powdered dolomite lime
30 pound bag of earthworm castings . . .
That’s the basic recipe . . .
However we also like to use
4 cups of Greensand
4 cups of Rock Phosphate
4 cups of diatomaceous earth
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dan1003
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I think you've got quite a thing going, and would probably work well. Most people keep it a little simpler than that, however. From what I've seen, supplementing one's existing soil with plenty of organic matter (compost), and fertilizing with aerated compost tea works well enough. I'm too lazy and cheap to put together complicated recipes for soil...

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Sage Hermit
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Well, good recipe and no worries using that outdoor. You should add a layer of mulch to keep your soil moist and active. The castings are really a good add in my opinion.

Maybe if you had a very specific question or idea you want to trouble shoot try and post that for us geeks to look over otherwise carry on and good luck.

I throw old banana peels straight into my bed. Apparently they help to add nutrients and structure the soil and help hold in moisture.
Last edited by Sage Hermit on Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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GayRioGrower
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Hey, thanks for the response. After doing much more research, I think I am going to keep it a little simpler. I'll stick with the 1/3 compost, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 peat(stupid question, but does canadian sphagnum peat work, or am I looking for something else?) Also, the only fertilizing recipes I seem to find say to fertilize with an all purpose 10-10-10 or 6-6-6, but in a raised bed doing the SFG with a variety of different vegetables, I feel like I would need to fertilize more precisely to each plants individual needs, but I don't know? Anyone with a good fertilizing program can chime in. Thanks.
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Sage Hermit
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I hope that someone else can post a good response to your question about how best t fertilize your mixed veggie patch but I try not to use any fertilizers from the store. I have maybe learned its easier to buy fertilizer but more fun to just make simple inriching methods. I don't know why but I am kind of obsessed with organic growing and using things in nature to keep the plants healthy.

An observation I have made is that if you actually feed the earthworms in your bed they will produce all the fertilizer you need in the form of castings. After you feed them stir up the soil a bit and distribute the castings up at the base of the plant.

Hopefully someone else can comment more for you.
Take care.
You can solve all your problems in a garden/laboratory.

GayRioGrower
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Thanks again, and I am definetely doing it the organic route. I would love to use blood and bone meal, the alfalfa, cottonseed meals, greensand, things that I am familiar with, I just don't really know each plants nutritional needs, so I don't have any idea how to mix them in and at how much. I've never grown different plants in the same "pot" so to speak, so I'm just worried some plants won't do as good as others.
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Dillbert
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the 1-1-1 compost/vermiculite/peat is an okay approach for a start but keep in mind:

compost is not exactly compost - it is 'different' depending on what all went into it. it's all good -

the vermiculite has "no" nutrient value to speak of, it's typically used as a filler to make the mix lighter weight ie less dense - using compost and peat, hardly a need to worry much about drainage, which is the potted plant issue with vermiculite / pearlite / eps

peat - well compost is essentially 100% organic, peat is essentially 100% organic, so you're making an soil-less mix, so to speak. it's going to shrink probably about 50% by volume as the season goes on. in a raised bed, you'll notice this.

also keep in mind, peat moss including Canadian, etc., tends to the acid side, as may a compost . . . so you might want to think soil test when you're done.

do you have "real dirt" available? if this is a relatively small project and you have the ability to thoroughly mix stuff I'd go with 50% dirt, 25% compost and 25% peat. no vermiculite - the high organic content will do the drainage issue. all the compost & peat will decay down to next to no volume, so each year you can repeat the dirt-compost-peat thing - but after 2-3 years you'll likely not need the peat as the soil tilth will have seriously improved.

methinks you may be overt-thinking the chem fertilizer brand/strength balance per leaf thing. the NPK numbers are the percentage of each by weight in the product. if you dump on 30-30-30 the tomato is not going to eat all 30% of everything on day one. a 10-10-10 can be reapplied "as needed" - three one pound applications of 10-10-10 is equal to one one pound application of 30-30-30 well, except for how much gets leached / washed away.

since we're in the organic section....you might want to consider a bag of dried cow manure to help out.

but generally crops that fruit should not have an excess of nitrogen - lots of foliage, not so many tomatoes (for example)

leafy / heading crops - spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, etc. need relatively more nitrogen to grow faster.

root crops - carrots, turnips, etc. need a relatively higher K

an old adage that goes with N-P-K is flowers-fruits-roots.
something to consider when 'grouping' things together.

GayRioGrower
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Great post Dillbert, thanks. The soil here is horrible, so I don't think I can even consider using it. I would love to incorporate some of it in, but definetely not much. And using the compost and the peat, I will be amending with a generous amount of dolomite lime to offset the ph.
What you put at the end of your post is more of what I'm looking for. I've heard that plants where you eat the foliage should be high in N, fruiting plants higher P,and rooting plants higher in K, like what you said, but would it be best to set up a box for the different groups of plants; like foliage edible plants in one, root plants in another, and so on, that way I could fertilize similar plants and not have to worry about deficiencies in others, or is that not ecassary? Sorry for the ramble, I just have so much on my mind it's hard to lay it all out n a way that makes sense.
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Dillbert
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>>The soil here is horrible,

uhmm, that's why one adds the compost/manure/organic matter - to improve the terrible stuff.

>>best to set up a box for the different groups of plants
it's like cooking. stop looking at the clock (i.e. "the numbers") and get on with the business of doing / learning by experiment.

given 300,000 or 400,000 words, or more, I suppose someone could delineate every possible situation, action and reaction. the bottom line is, if you have to go chemical, use a low dose fertilizer and reapply as needed. if you have a 2x8 ft raised bed and put down two tablespoons of fertilizer on one end, ain't likely to have a big effect 8 feet away.

if the raised bed is 1 ft by 1 ft you'll probably kill anything in it by "overdose out of the bag" - extreme, but not actually unrealistic.

GayRioGrower
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What I meant by my soil being horrible is that the land around the house was cut pretty deep to build the house, and all that is really left is granite. It is hard to even dig down a shovel deep, so I thought creating my own soil would be the best bet. I would rather know exactly what I'm putting in rather then put in this rock-soil and hope for the best. Do you know what I mean?
I thought putting plants with similar nutrient needs in the same boxes would allow me to focus on the nutes those plants need, instead of having to mix different nutes throughout the same box. That was what I was going for.
I don't need a step by step guide to grow, just some useful info if I was heading in the right direction or not.
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cynthia_h
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I might have missed something, but are you making raised beds? Your proposed mix of peat, vermiculite, and compost looks exactly like Mel Bartholomew's "Square Foot Gardening" recommendation.

He uses that same formulation for all veggies and garden flowers. I used it in Bed #1 (specifics available elsewhere here at THG, but Bed #1 is made from concrete blocks) and can attest that the volume has not shrunk anything like 50% since March 2008, when I first made Bed #1. I used my own compost plus some commercially available compost made primarily from grape pomace. Why? ==> It looked really neat, it was affordable, and it was an ingredient that in no way duplicated *anything* in my own compost.

I think you're making the fertilizer part much too complex, personally. Compost from multiple sources/ingredients will provide long-term release nutrients for veggies and flowers, and if you're growing kitchen herbs, they actually prefer poorer soil and not being fertilized.

The only recognizable "fertilizers" I've used on my veggies/roses the past many years are liquid kelp and vitamin B-1 (only b/c I had some left over from the long-distant past). I had a nutritional deficiency in both my camellias (camellia rust) and a potted citrus plant (chlorosis), which was addressed in both cases by soluble iron. So I have that around, too, as an ailment-specific helper.

I can't even remember what else may be out in the carport; it's been so long since I used anything else...

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

GayRioGrower
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I might have missed something, but are you making raised beds? Your proposed mix of peat, vermiculite, and compost looks exactly like Mel Bartholomew's "Square Foot Gardening" recommendation.

Yes, raised beds. And yes, it is Mel's mix and I was planning on a SFG. I think the concept is great.

I think you're making the fertilizer part much too complex, personally. Compost from multiple sources/ingredients will provide long-term release nutrients for veggies and flowers, and if you're growing kitchen herbs, they actually prefer poorer soil and not being fertilized.

I understand what you are saying. I probably don't need to feed them as much as I was expecting. Should I maybe amend the soil with some bone/blood meal before I plant? I also give my plants EWC tea and AACT's on a regular basis. Thanks Cynthia.
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cynthia_h
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Not even the blood/bonemeal. I don't have any of either one here.

But thank you SO MUCH for reminding me: my "compost" is of two kinds. I have a BioStack for the usual brown/green mix, and I have vermicompost. I make worm tea (the usual, I think, 9:1 water:leachate solution) and also add top dressing of vermicompost when plants seem to need it.

(BTW, just hit the "quote" button in the upper right-hand part of a message frame if you like someone's language enough to re-use it in your post. It's all part of getting used to how forums work! :D)

Cynthia

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