soiless mix for raised beds

bd354(8)January 24, 2009

Hi everyone, great site you have here. My question is what can I use along with composted cow manure in these beds or is the manure enough? I've never used beds or soiless mixtures before but I gave up trying to grow anything in what is called soil around here. Would like to plant tomatoes,green peppers,squash and cucumbers. I have access to composted cow manure but I'm in the dark as to what if anything else I need. Would also like to stay as organic as possible. I plan to use landscape cloth under the bed and maybe on top also. Probably need mulch on top of that? Any help/advice greatly appreciated.

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Hi there,

I think your best bet is to get some triple mix or good topsoil to fill the majority of your raised beds. You usually get the stuff delivered pretty cheaply or pick it up yourself from your local landscaping place. You can then mix in the cow manure on a yearly bases. 100% composted cow manure might be a little too rich. That is what I did last year and it worked really well.
Check out my veggie garden blog:

    Bookmark   January 24, 2009 at 11:42PM
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There is no need to mix anything. Just dump whatever you have in the beds. Short term, only a few selected vegetables will grow in the unfinished organic matter, basically, the same things that you would find growing in your compost pile, potatoes, tomatoes, squash, melons, etc.

Longer term most everything will grow. If you are afraid that fresh manure will be a bit too strong call a tree company and have them dump a few cubic yards of wood chips in the front yard. They will do it for free, and you will be able to mix in some brown material, and to put a thick mulch on top of the mix.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 1:01PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Welcome! Several previous discussions linked below on the question that you might want to browse through for suggestions. Scroll down to the ones with the blue borders. ;) Several good recipe mixes included.

A common one is called Mel's Mix - 1/3 peat, 1/3 compost, and 1/3 vermiculite and there are several variations on it too that include perlite, sand, composted manure (never fresh), and even some soil.

I'd never try growing in straight manure - too problematic - and make sure it is well composted first. I have several raised beds filled with various mixes - most are approx. 1/2 topsoil with lots of compost, aged manure and some vermiculite mixed in and they do extremely well. One is straight top soil but it was good quality creek-bottom soil not the typical stuff sold as top soil. To it I have just added several inches of compost over the years. You can buy compost - check your local city/county for availability - if you don't make your own.

Abd be sure to check out the Soil Forum, the Container Gardening forum (a raised bed is much like a large container ;), and the Sq. Foot Gardening forum here too as they have many great discussions on filling raised beds too.

Good gardening!


Here is a link that might be useful: How to fill raised beds discussions

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 1:41PM
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gardenlen(s/e qld aust)

g'day dan,

can you source spent mushroom compost from the mushroom farm? we have good results using it as it is the main ingredient when we start a new bed.


Here is a link that might be useful: lens garden page

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 2:02PM
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Hi BD. There many varieties of bedding mix and different ones work for different people. Most people do not use a completely soil-less mix in raised bed. The most notable exceptions are those who follow Mel B's Square Foot Gardening methods. There is a forum on GW that is dedicated to it and similar methods. It should be noted that it is expensive to fill a bed with peat moss, vermiculite and compost - but if you are determined to go soil-less, I suggest you visit that forum. The folks there will be helpful.

I would like to add that adding a weed barrier fabric to the bottom of a raised bed is not recommended by most seasoned gardeners. Weed barriers are also root and worm barriers. Instead, you can add a good layer of newspaper or cardboard to the bottom. This will form a temporary barrier against any existing grass or weeds. But your plants' roots will be able to break through and soon it will all become worm food.


    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 2:56PM
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