Too many leaves in raised bed?

wertach zone 7-B SCApril 28, 2014

I built a small raised bed last fall 3' deep and filled it halfway up with finely shredded leaves.

Then I mixed in some old potting soil and finished compost. Afterwards I planted onions and they are doing very good.

Now it is time to plant tomatoes. I knew that it wouldn't get hot but I expected to get more breakdown on the leaves.

I dug two holes deep enough to bury the toms and it is mostly leaves not broken down at all. They are loose and moist even though we haven't had any rain lately.

Should I dig the holes out larger and put in potting soil or topsoil? Or just use enough to cover the plants? Or just not use it this year?

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If the bed is three feet tall and only half full,why not add enough soil to plant your toms? Unless you have material for mulching,reserve enough leaves for mulching the toms.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 2:02PM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

I filled it half full of leaves first Klem1, then mixed in the rest to fill it to the top. I didn't get it mixed well enough and too many leaves ended up about 10" down.

I plan to plant my tomatoes about 14" deep. They are tall.

I plan to mulch with what I dug out and I have plenty more, finely ground, for mulching also, enough to fill about a 20 ton dump truck! I have a lot of big trees.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 4:17PM
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You might be able to grow in compost, or even in what you have in there. Lasagne gardening uses layers of soil with layers of compostable materials. But soil should be only partly organic matter and the rest should be the mineral fraction of soil. You should mix or layer some soil in there at least.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 4:27PM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

Thanks, It is supposed to rain later today. I'm going to plant them and fill in with some topsoil before the rain sets in. I have plenty of extra plants anyway so if they do good or bad nothing is lost.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 4:49PM
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You might want to stake those tomato plants well especially if they are indeterminate variety as the roots may not be as stable as they would be in a heavier soil. Also watch for signs of lack of nitrogen.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 7:04PM
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14 inch transplants ! I suggest planting no deeper than they are in pots now. If the plants are lanky,bury extra stem horizionaly rather than planting deep. Tomatoe limbs and stems will root when in ground contact. Since you have an abundance of transplants and are walking a tight wire with N,I would alow 50% of normal space for each plant. Be generious with N on alternating plants while being conservity on those between. Toms only need so much N but if over done you get big green vines with no fruit. Watch which plants to set blooms. When it's obivious which level of fertility is setting the most blooms,destroy the others. This is one of those rare cases where I might break ranks and use a commercial fertilizer specialy blended for tomatoes to insure there isn't a deficeny. One thing is for sure,we would be interested if you dig this thread from the grave when the results are known to you.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 11:57PM
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You have begun a Lasagna Garden, so the link below may be of some help.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lasagna Gardening 101

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 6:31AM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

I planted them deep with about 3" of good topsoil at the bottom and filled the rest of it up with topsoil. Then mulched with the leaves and mixed up stuff.

Klem, I am only putting 4 tomato plants in the bed, I have onions growing there now and I am planting between them. The onions will be ready soon. I will dig this thread back out when I get some results, if I can find it in a few weeks/months. I have lost some before!

LuckyGal, I'm caging them and using steel t-posts driven in to the harder ground below. Which is the same thing I do with my row tomatoes.

Kimmsr, I was thinking along that line when I started it! I just thought I would get more breakdown on the leaves over the winter.

One bad thing that I ran into while digging the other holes, Fire Ants! Now I have to deal with them too!

Thanks to all!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 2:43PM
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