Can I use topsoil?

jamesgindcMarch 19, 2010

This is my second year of SFG... last year I had a 4x6 raised bed with about 8" of topsoil mixed with organic compost, and had a pretty good year. My cukes kinda tapered off toward the end, but I was getting tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant all the way through to first frost.

This year I'm expanding. I'm adding a level onto my 4x6 (to give me some more depth to work with, the soil below is almost all clay mixed with bricks and God knows what else, this being DC). I'm also making a second L-shaped bed, about 48 square feet.

Should I keep using topsoil/compost, or was I lucky to get the yield I got from topsoil last year? Would a vermiculite/peat/compost combination be any less expensive? With topsoil, my soil costs are going to easily top $150-160, for 72 square feet of garden.

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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

I have a 300 sf raised bed and purchased topsoil and amended heavily. Not a problem.


    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 6:31PM
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@Dan: What did you use to amend the soil. I plan to do the same as jamesgindc.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 8:23PM
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angela12345(7b NC Mixed-Humid)

James, I think you can do Mel's Mix for close to the same price as you are calculating for topsoil. My mom just did 76sf 8" deep for $155.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 12:35AM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

I used several different purchased composts, compost from the pile, etc. Your manufactured soil mix should be good in and of itself for the basics and simply adding OM should do it. You'll get settling and have to refresh, and compost does that well.


    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 11:20AM
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jes5020(z5 PA)

I dont use Mels mix either, my soil is 1/3 topsoil, 1/3 coarse sand, 1/3 peat moss. I tried using straight topsoil one season but found it compacted and was to hard to work by hand so I switched,, best thing I could have done for my 168 sq ft of beds, I also modified the width of the beds to 40in wide, just takes 3 8ft boards to get a 3'x8' planting area.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 12:26PM
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In order to keep costs down, I discovered that Lowe's and my local Agway will sell torn bags of topsoil, potting soil, manure, peat moss,etc. for half price or less. I had to fill a sloped bed that was 12" deep on one end. I was able to get 4 bags amended topsoil, 2.2 cu ft. peat moss, large bag of MG garden soil,large bag MG potting soil, 1 cu. ft. potting soil, 1 bag manure all for $18. I also threw in sand, leaves to fill the deep side. Then I used Mel's Mix in the top six inches. The additional materials for the mix cost about $57.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 7:40AM
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daylilyfanatic4(Zone 6 SE NY)

I used purchased "topsoil" which was really mostly compost. Then I added peat moss my own compost and municapal compost. Spent about $40 on soil for 49 sq feet. If I were to do it again I would use my compost my leaf mold municipal compost and peat moss and probally only have to spend $16 for the same sq footage.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 8:17AM
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