Author Topic: Ideas for Raised bed garden soil  (Read 2008 times)

Offline Janxster

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Ideas for Raised bed garden soil
« on: February 12, 2017, 11:55:02 AM »
We just moved to a new house and I am planning on putting in a single 4 x 12 raise bed for some production this year while I build the soil for a larger garden plot. Does anyone know where to get or have any ideas for getting soil for a raised bed? I saw some on craigslist but it was $175 per cubic yard. It just seems like I should be able to start a new bed for less than $350.

I think I will need about 2 yd.³.

Any suggestions are appreciated.
Thanks,
Tim

Offline mountainmoma

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Re: Ideas for Raised bed garden soil
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2017, 02:18:31 PM »
I use my base soil on the property, and ammend and add mulch -- To do this, I lower the bed and path area and put the soil into the raised bed box. For example, with 2 ft wide paths and 4 ft wide beds ( my house) I lower the soil about 6-8 inches ( as my raised beds are 12 inches deep), shovel that over to a pile, level the spot, put the raised bed there, check its level and adjust if needed. My raised beds are 4 ft x 12 ft. This gets much faster when doing multiple raised beds, so that after the first ( empty) bed is placed, then the second spot is dug down and leveled by throwing that soil into this first bed, and continue on until the last bed is filled by that soil pile from teh first beds site.

Why do this ? Well, maybe what you can buy is different than here, but from what I have seen when friends have bought in soil ( or compost for that matter) this soil is not realy very good, it is fluffed up with alot of organic matter that gets eaten by the worms, microbes, etc, and soon their soil level is nothing. ANd, if that is what you want, do it on site, it will be cheaper ! If you don tknow your soil composition, do a jar test, look it up , soil in jar with water, shake to mix well, let it settle, first part in sand, put a piece of tape ( I forget the timing, look it up) then leave the jar for a day or two to see then the layers. You can als do a test with test strips on fertility, the NPK and Ph, to see what you may want to add. What I find is that sandy or clay, what it needs is organic matter the most, and that means after adding nutrients, rock dust powder, etc... into the soil, you are going to want to mulch very thickly, maybe with alfalfa hay, go buy a bale or two. Put it on 6 inches deep, and this first year, just transplant, do not direct seed, let the worms eat the mulch and make your soil better. That bought soil isnt good anyways, might as well do your own

This first year, leave a bit more room between plants, and go for chard and kale and not broccoli, fr example. So, plant greens, a few tomato plants, zuchini -- you will get plenty of yield, as greens and zuchini dont need alot of nutrients and you can out stuff directly into the tomatoe holes when transplant or maybe you are going to amend soil before planting(with organic or regular plant food, I like the recomended soil ammendments from How to Grow More Vegetables Than You can Imagine.... your bed is nominally 1/2 of a 100sq ft bed recomendations, so easy to figure out what to add -- they have a base recomendation for first year, if you dont test, my bok is upstairs, maybe I will look it up for you later if you want it), while you build up soil.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2017, 02:26:27 PM by mountainmoma »
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Offline scoob

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Re: Ideas for Raised bed garden soil
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2017, 09:05:06 PM »
Good advice above.

For $350, you can just about get by buying bags of compost and vermiculite from Home Depot.  $175/yd??  WOW!  We have this lawn/garden/pet chain of stores here that sells organic compost for $40/yd and top soil for around $27, and they are known for being kind of expensive even.  Not meaning to rub it in, in case it's just a regional thing, just adding some perspective.  Our Craigslist usually turns up composted horse manure for somewhere between free and $50/pickup load.  If you just dont have any decent soil to work with on your property, I'd say keep looking, but if you're in upstate NY or something, that may just be the going rate.

Some years back, and another home ago, we bit the bullet and built a couple beds using the Mel's Mix from the Square Foot Gardening method.  It wasn't cheap, but it wasn't 350/yd either.  I think it was about 350/bed at 4'x16', and that was buying mostly bagged compost/vermiculite/and bricks of coconut coir.  That soil was AWESOME!  We pondered taking it with us when we sold the house, but the stars just didn't line up.  The soil level did drop a few inches the first year, but that gave us room to add mulch, which my wife was still having a hard time embracing at the time. 

Would we do Mel's Mix again?  Not where we are now.  It was a good way to get a productive garden going fast.  Now, we just pick up free composted horse manure (I know, HERESY!) if we're adding a bed,  and mulch it with free leaves and grass clippings from known non-sprayers.  Around here, a new bed does ok the first year, and really takes off the second, and even better the third.  The key is mulch.  Mulch is organic matter that slowly breaks down, and it protects your soil from so many things.  For one, when the sun hits bare soil, evaporation is the result and your soil drys out.

Offline Carl

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Re: Ideas for Raised bed garden soil
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2017, 06:31:59 AM »
a local,to you,garden center should have topsoil available and you can add compost or manure to this at much lower cost than mentioned.
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Offline Janxster

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Re: Ideas for Raised bed garden soil
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2017, 07:28:02 AM »
Thank you for the suggestions and detailed replies. The price I wrote was for  vermi-compost and really the only compost I saw on CL.  If I make my own compost with manure I would have to wait 4 to 6 months, correct?  And I am concerned about compost from public facilities like a landfill because of what I've read about herbicides and pesticides. Although I haven't seen any real problems from these sources it has all been anecdotal.
I would like to try the Mel's Mix but use coconut coir instead of Peat Moss but I haven't been able to find a source for coconut Coir in bulk and buying it in bricks seems expensive.

Thanks again,
Tim

Offline artephius

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Re: Ideas for Raised bed garden soil
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2017, 07:00:16 PM »
I haven't been able to find a source for coconut Coir in bulk and buying it in bricks seems expensive.

If you happen to live somewhere where certain pointless plant prohibitions have been reduced, there's quite a bit of slightly used coconut growing medium available for free if you ask around... Growers have to pay to dispose of it and they only use it for a single two month growing cycle... I managed to get a practically unlimited supply of it for free, and while it does have some roots (bonus organic matter as far as I'm concerned), and probably some commercial fertilizer residues/salts, it's perfectly good still for garden use unless you're an absolute purist, especially if you find a place that's relatively organic. I admit I was a little hesitant to get "used" stuff until I saw some of the gardens other people have made with the stuff (including one with the same source I have)... 

Offline Janxster

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Re: Ideas for Raised bed garden soil
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2017, 08:43:20 PM »
If you happen to live somewhere where certain pointless plant prohibitions have been reduced, there's quite a bit of slightly used coconut growing medium available for free if you ask around... Growers have to pay to dispose of it and they only use it for a single two month growing cycle... I managed to get a practically unlimited supply of it for free, and while it does have some roots (bonus organic matter as far as I'm concerned), and probably some commercial fertilizer residues/salts, it's perfectly good still for garden use unless you're an absolute purist, especially if you find a place that's relatively organic. I admit I was a little hesitant to get "used" stuff until I saw some of the gardens other people have made with the stuff (including one with the same source I have)...

By growers do you mean nurseries that start plants from seed to sell potted plants? What type of businesses would I look for ?

-tim

Offline artephius

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Re: Ideas for Raised bed garden soil
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2017, 08:07:38 AM »
I meant marijuana growers... They use top of the line stuff to get maximum yields (it's a high dollar crop due to prohibition) and then throw it away after 2 months! I think it's a shame to let all that gently used growing medium go to waste. Especially now that the facilities are being inspected regularly to make sure people aren't spraying horribly toxic things on their plants. It's not "organic" but it's good enough for me.

The stuff I got is a nice light fluffy coconut and perlite mix, that had compost tea, mykos (expensive!), and a bunch of other good stuff added to it. I like it better than peat moss. I'm still searching for an affordable supply of compost to mix in with it for the beds I made this year. The place near me wants $40/yard for recycled sewage... um no thanks... I've found a few farms (that were too far away) selling supposedly organic/aerated/finished compost for around $17/yard so I know it's out there, I'm certainly not spending $300 to make one bed! Good luck!

Offline RitaRose1945

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Re: Ideas for Raised bed garden soil
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2017, 08:31:34 PM »
Where I live, we have Dr. Q, who has a segment every weekend on the morning news.  He also gives free lectures and makes housecalls (for a fee, I assume) and is The Man To Know if you're brave enough to grow things around here.

Check around and see if a local nursery has someone similar.  They can not only tell you what types to grow and what's a waste of time, but they can also hook you up with other mentors that may have connections.

Often they'll have ads disguised as columns in the newspaper on the weekends, so that's worth a look.

Offline tumtum73

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Re: Ideas for Raised bed garden soil
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2017, 03:58:53 PM »
We use composted manure from a local horse stable.  They set it aside on their property and give it away for free.
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Offline ZacSpade

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Re: Ideas for Raised bed garden soil
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2017, 07:00:44 PM »
Depending on how deep your raised beds are you can layer the soil.

Get some free waste product (mulch etc.) for the lower layer and buy more decent top soil for the top

Something like this (without so many layers)




Offline chaogreg

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Re: Ideas for Raised bed garden soil
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2017, 09:00:02 PM »
We use composted manure from a local horse stable.  They set it aside on their property and give it away for free.
Hey, dear pal, would you please share the information where I can have some? Thanks a lot.

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Ideas for Raised bed garden soil
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2017, 06:11:33 AM »
Chaogreg & ZacSpade,
When you get the chance, please stop over at the Intro Thread and introduce yourself.
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Offline bigbear

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Re: Ideas for Raised bed garden soil
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2017, 09:20:54 AM »
Hey, dear pal, would you please share the information where I can have some? Thanks a lot.

Check Craigslist.  At least where I live that's a popular spot for getting free manure (mostly horse, but occasionally other livestock). 

Horse manure is very seedy though.  Either compost it in a hot pile to kill the seeds.  Or you'll need to keep up with the weeding, at least early in the growing season.  It's not too bad after the crops start shading out the seedlings though.
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Offline DDJ

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Re: Ideas for Raised bed garden soil
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2017, 10:51:01 AM »
Open your manure search.  There are other manures and not all are as "hot".  Rabbit as an example.  I also understand that Sheep produce a garden ready manure.  I am sure that there are others.  Contact your local 4H clubs they may be able to put you in touch with "non traditional farmers"(AKA no use for the manure) doing animal based 4H projects.

Do a quick look at hay bail.  We discussed doing that for this first year in our new house.

Use your raise beds as the compost pile for you kitchen scraps.  The coffee grounds from the kitchen have boosted some of our plants and appeared to be pretty quick, but we had good soil by the time I left the old house.

Doug

Offline Dave in Broadway, NC

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Re: Ideas for Raised bed garden soil
« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2017, 10:32:01 PM »
A word of caution on horse manure: make sure it's well-composted. A lot of weed seed passes through a horse's digestive tract still fertile. I got a truck load of horse manure once and it turned my weed-free garden into a jungle in short order.
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Offline Carl

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Re: Ideas for Raised bed garden soil
« Reply #16 on: April 05, 2017, 04:03:38 AM »
  This reminds me of my job,years ago,working for a local Goodyear tire service center...repairing flats. I always would get the task of repairing flats on a medium tractor that was used to move a huge sprinkler/sprayer about a field at the waste treatment facility. The 'solids' were treated and sprayed on a large field to 'air out' and at times this field was full of tomato plants...beautiful tomato plants...it was my habit to return the favor to the salesmen who gave me this task with a bucket of ripe tomatoes...they used to practically fight over the produce I brought to the office...I had the last laugh.  Tomato seeds go untouched through the human digestive tract.. 8)
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