Preparing the Soil in Raised Beds

by - January 21, 2010

If you haven't already added compost to your soil for the upcoming season, now might be a good time to do so while it is unseasonably warm and the soil is workable. In raised beds, getting soil tested may not be necessary if you are using more topsoil, compost and supplements than the naturally occurring soil. Personally, I have not had my soils tested, but as I expand beyond the raised beds this year, I probably will.

Last year, I had pretty good results with the combination I used in my raised beds. I took cues from "Square Foot Gardening" and from my pocketbook. Following is approximately what I used per 4'x12' bed.
  • 1 - 50 lb bag Black Kow Compost (Available at Lowes and Home Depot)
  • 1 - 20 lb bag Black Hen Compost (Available at Lowes and Home Depot)
  • 4 cu ft Peat Moss (You can find these in 4 cf bails at Ace Hardware)
  • 6 cu ft Garden Soil for Flowers and Vegetables (Available at Lowes, Home Depot and Ace Hardware)
I also had some leftover Vermiculite from a friend. There was just enough for a thin layer over the beds. I turned the soil over about 12-18" deep, trying to mix everything in evenly.

In the 4'x4' boxes, I ran into problems (blossom end rot and powdery mildew) likely due to overcrowding, a lack of calcium, fluctuating moisture levels, and poor drainage. We have pretty heavy soils that retain water, but we were also hit by drought conditions during which I didn't water enough. This year, I will be planting tomatoes and squash in other areas of the garden to increase air flow and to prevent any recurring diseases that tend to hit tomatoes if planted in the same area repeatedly.

Most likely I will only be adding calcium and Black Kow and Black Hen in the coming weeks. From what I have read, this compost is fairly pH neutral.

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  1. so do you save all your eggshells and put them in the garden to increase calcium? We eat a ton of eggs, and that's what we do. any idea if that's enough over time?

  2. I'm no eggspert... hee hee hee. I planned on just seeing if I could pick something up at the store b/c I always forget to save egg shells.



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