What are your soil recommendations?

anniesgranny(6b)August 12, 2008

OK, I'm getting down to the nitty-gritty of building more new beds for my 2009 garden. The boxes won't be as high as I'd like, as I'll have to purchase most all the materials for them rather than use what is on hand....I ran out of all the recycled 2x6 redwood deck boards I had. My existing beds are two boards high, giving me nearly 12" of planting depth. The new beds will probably be built using the good sections of the 4x4 fence posts that we just removed before building the new fence, along with whatever I can find at the lumber yard to meet my fancy.

The soil under these future beds is good sandy loam, and they will have permanent plants (asparagus, raspberries and strawberries) planted in them next spring. What do you suggest I use to fill the boxes? I have access to very good leaf/twig/manure compost for a reasonable price. I could also buy peat moss, which might be beneficial in my slightly alkaline soil, especially in the strawberry bed. I will also be incorporating chopped leaves (with some grass clippings) this fall.

What are your ideas for nice, rich planting beds?

Annie's Granny

Here is a link that might be useful: Annie's Kitchen Garden

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angelady777 (was angelady on GW) - Zone 6(6)

First of all, I love your blog. You're doing such a great job!

Next, I think on this particular forum, you're probably going to get everyone saying Mel's Mix (from The Square Foot Gardening book) is what you should use in a SFG. You might get a few alterations of that, too. It can be a heated discussion on here whether to change Mel's Mix or not, so everyone, please be nice to our sweet new member, Annie's Granny.

Now, for my opinion, I'm solidly a believer in Mel's Mix, but feel that nothing is perfect in every way. If people find they need to change it up, then let them. For me, it's easy, maintenance free soil. It's a light soil, so you will probably have to stake some plants, but it doesn't like the plants that you're going to be adding.

As for what you posted you had access to, they all sound great to me. I would add vermiculite, as Mel suggests. My local nursery special ordered the coarse stuff in the larger quantity than those tiny little bags. It was very affordable to buy this way, unlike the little bags. If you could find a couple other kinds of compost to add in, you'll be set.


    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 1:57PM
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also some use straight compost, some use straight compost w vermiculite, some its compost/vermiculite/poo. LOL others, what ever we can get our cheap hands on!! LOL and make it better so we can get a good crop out of it!! LOL but frugally!! LOL i'm trying the horse poo, vermiculite, horse poo has been composted befor i got it, and it composted even more, this one is mainly for flowers. but next years will be for vege's. that one will be the comp/poo/verm mix. just to be sure it will stay moist enough. i'm trying to attract bats so i'll have bat poo also. i hear its GREAT!!! ~Medo

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 3:18PM
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Angela, I was thinking, rather than get all leaf & twig/manure compost, maybe I'd get some regular (dairy) compost to mix with it. It would have an entire winter to leach out any salts that it might comtain. It's the vermiculite I'm having a problem with. As much as I would love to add it, I'm thinking the expense is getting too great. I'll have two yards of the compost to buy, plus at least a large bale of peat moss, plus the materials to build the boxes. Added to the cost of the perrenial plants I'll be buying, that's quite a chunk of $$ for me to put out in a short time.

I read somewhere that some people use non-clumping kitty litter rather than vermiculite. Has anyone here heard that? The brand I buy for my house rabbit is really cheap, but it's very highly perfumed. I'd compost the contents of his litter box to use in the gardens if I knew the additives wouldn't be harmful.

BTW, I'm only a semi-sfg person, as all of you may have noticed by my posts and photos. I do use a lot of the information from Mel's book, but I don't follow it to the letter. I hope I'm still welcome here, as it's my favorite place to be and the closest to the way I actually garden.


Here is a link that might be useful: Annie's Kitchen Garden

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 3:33PM
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I'm a huge fan of mel's mix. I think vermiculite has really helped my beds, but I sure understand that people might not want the expense. Also peat gets pricey after a bit. I've heard there's a new substitute made out of coconut that doesn't impact ph.

Medo: I've heard bat poop is the best.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 3:43PM
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fishymamas(z9, So. CA)

You could switch bunny litter to yesterday's news, and then use the contents of the box straight into the garden.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 4:01PM
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jbest123(Zone 5 PA)

I use 100% homemade compost. I will let the photos in my journal speak for themselves. It only cost the price of the fuel to run the shredder and some of my time.


Here is a link that might be useful: Johns Journal

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 4:03PM
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John, I applaud your ability to make all your own compost! I am a compost failure these days. I'm only here at my garden 6 months of the year, and I never can seem to gather the proper amounts of browns and greens to build a respectable compost pile, so I resort to leaving a few areas of my garden bare for trench composting. The compost I purchased for my new beds was lovely stuff, though. The plants seem to be really taking off and loving it.

Another problem with not being here to garden until April is that I have to buy my tomato and pepper plants from the nursery. We travel home through freezing weather, so tender plants won't survive the trip.

Your gardens are lovely! I like your irrigation system, and I would like to make myself a kneeler like yours...that's fantastic!

I see you and I are about the same age. I might be a month older than you :-) These sfg boxes are sure easier on our old bodies, aren't they?


Here is a link that might be useful: Annie's Kitchen Garden

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 4:39PM
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