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Thread: Preparing the soil of raised beds...

  1. #1
    greenfingers2014 is offline Germinator
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    Default Preparing the soil of raised beds...

    Hi there,

    I am new to GYO, and also to this website, so please be kind if the answer to my question appears somewhat obvious!!!

    I am hoping to grow a selection of herbs and veg this year in three newly constructed raised beds. I have used old railway sleeps to construct them...and I am currently in the process of lining them with polythene and refilling with topsoil. The beds are double the height of most that I have seen, approximately 65cm height.

    The topsoil itself has not not been used to grow anything before (recently anyway) and was under a concrete yard. I'm finding the information on improving the soil confusing and I wonder if someone can help me! Some references suggest to replace the entire contents, but I would like to simply improve the fertility of the soil that I have, is possible.

    My first question is what should I be adding to the soil? Would a shop brought compost and/or manure be okay?

    Should I be looking to improve the top layer, or the entire contents of the bed? Most of the information I can find relates to relatively shallow beds!

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    WendyC is offline Early Fruiter
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    I think cost may be a deciding factor. I think you need something with soil in it rather than just compost. You can buy topsoil in bulk and depending on the quality may or may not need to add manure or fertilizer. Incidentally most herbs are from the Mediterranean so need freer draining, or grittier soils than most vegetables.

  3. #3
    Jonnyt is offline Sprouter
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    Have a look at the square foot gardening method.

    The mix there is
    One third compost
    One third peat moss
    One third vermiculite


    Sent from my iPhone using Grow Your Own Forum

  4. #4
    greenfingers2014 is offline Germinator
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    Quote Originally Posted by WendyC View Post
    I think cost may be a deciding factor. I think you need something with soil in it rather than just compost. You can buy topsoil in bulk and depending on the quality may or may not need to add manure or fertilizer. Incidentally most herbs are from the Mediterranean so need freer draining, or grittier soils than most vegetables.
    Thank you for your reply. I already have the topsoil, more than enough to fill the beds. But you are right, cost is a big implication and that's why I want to keep as much as what I already have as possible. I plan to use one bed just for herbs, and the other two for vegetables. Being new to gardening I am struggling to assess the quality of the soil, and whether I need manure and/or fertiliser!!!!

  5. #5
    greenfingers2014 is offline Germinator
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonnyt View Post
    Have a look at the square foot gardening method.

    The mix there is
    One third compost
    One third peat moss
    One third vermiculite


    Sent from my iPhone using Grow Your Own Forum
    I have done quite a bit of reading around SFG, and plan to plant using this method. However, as I have three beds that are already full of soil I was hoping of improving what I already have, rather than refilling with compost, peat moss and vermiculite. This is partly due to the cost implications, and also I will have difficulty shifting the topsoil.

  6. #6
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    if you a re just making up your raised beds try and get as much compostable material into the lower levels of your beds as you can if it`s still to decompose get it down about. 30cm.(1ft. I had to find a tape measure to see what 65cm was) if its good compost mix it in with the top 30cm. remember if it has still to rot the soil level will drop as it decomposes which is not a problem, if you are short of soil purchase some concrete sand from a builders merchant (remember one big bag may be a lot cheaper than several small bags ) and mix it in with the soil
    have a look at this site. organicgrowersfairlie.co.uk
    Last edited by rary; 18-01-2014 at 09:34 PM. Reason: adding a web site to visit
    it may be a struggle to reach the top, but once your over the hill your problems start.

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  7. #7
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    Bigmallly is offline Think outside the box
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    Rightly or wrongly, 1st, I would do away with the polythene as this will affect drainage. Instead, I would line the bottom of the bed with cardboard then add layers of material.........straw at the bottom to bulk up the level followed by any home made compost (composted down or not) & finally the top layer would be topsoil mixed with well rotted manure............this obviously is not the way everyone would do it, just giving my personal input.
    Currysniffa likes this.
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    RedThorn is offline Early Fruiter
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    Agree with BM lose the polythene, you've got what you got, improve it with well rotted organic materials.
    Bigmallly likes this.
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