Soil question in a raised bed

abunariAugust 28, 2014

I am building raised beds for my garden next year. My fibromyalgia and knee issue just don't let me garden like I once did!

I can get a truck load of compost for around $15 from the local dump, what more should I add to the beds?

50/50 topsoil and compost is what I was planning

Do I need to add vermiculite or perlite?

I live in the middle of arkansas so summers can get hot and dry.

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You should not need vermiculite or perlite for raised beds. They help with drainage in container mixes, but raised beds really aren't pots. I think your mix will be fine. 50% is a lot of compost but about half its weight is water, and only part of the dry half is organic matter, and some of that will decompose away, leaving only a small fraction of the original compost as semi-permanent organic matter. So it really isn't too much. Just keep in mind that your beds will likely sink a lot the first year as that process takes place, so pile them up well or be prepared to add a little more soil next year if you want them at a certain level. Once you have good soil you can maintain it with much smaller additions of compost.

Happy gardening!

PS: For hot dry summers I use lots of mulch after planting the garden. Grass clippings (if not sprayed with herbicides), shredded leaves, straw, even half-done compost will work around your tomatoes and peppers and other large plants, and between rows of smaller plants.

This post was edited by toxcrusadr on Thu, Aug 28, 14 at 13:28

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 1:22PM
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A good garden soil is loam, a soil that is about 45 percent sand, 25 percent silt, 25 percent clay, and 5 percent organic matter. For raised beds that are still in contact with the native soil that is what I would aim for, or at least a soil that is about 92 percent mineral (sand, silt, or clay or a mixture of those) and 8 percent organic matter. Soils of 50 percent organic matter often have nutrient imbalances that create more problems then they help with.
If the raised beds are up off the ground then they would be containers and would need a soil meant for containers.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2014 at 7:25AM
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At least we are past the "There is no need, ever, to spend money buying soil although buying organic matter may be necessary." for raised beds.

I'd not add so much compost myself. I'd shoot for somewhere around 10% mature compost/90% mineral soil (being exact isn't critical). And I second the mulch for moisture retention by Tox.

DW has fibromyalgia, it sucks big time. I feel for you.


    Bookmark   August 29, 2014 at 11:00AM
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Thank you everyone for the helpful advice.. I found a local place that sells bulk topsoil.. It feels very light and looks to have some sand in it. I will do the bulk of the bed in this say 3/4 adm amend it with compost in the spring. I have a few rabbits that should contribute to it with some droppings as well I hope .

    Bookmark   August 29, 2014 at 11:29AM
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