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Base soil for my raised garden beds

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Base soil for my raised garden beds

Post  efirvin on 3/19/2012, 1:15 pm

Good morning everyone!

I am building raised beds for my new sfg garden plot. (I can't get down on my hands and knees anymore!) They are 16 inches tall. I am going to make 1 4x4 bed all Mel's mix so I can plant potatoes and carrots there.

My question is what to use as the 8 inch base for my other raised beds. I can buy compost from the city at $18 per square yard. Is compost ok to use as the base soil? I will be buying that compost to mix with peat moss and vermiculite to make Mel's mix but don't know if its the right thing to use for my base soil.

Thanks for all the great info and support I have found here! You guys are good!
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Re: Base soil for my raised garden beds

Post  Danni on 3/19/2012, 2:23 pm

Mel's mix is usually 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss and 1/3 compost using 5 different types of compost.
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Re: Base soil for my raised garden beds

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/19/2012, 3:23 pm

@efirvin wrote:Good morning everyone!

I am building raised beds for my new sfg garden plot. (I can't get down on my hands and knees anymore!) They are 16 inches tall. I am going to make 1 4x4 bed all Mel's mix so I can plant potatoes and carrots there.

My question is what to use as the 8 inch base for my other raised beds. I can buy compost from the city at $18 per square yard. Is compost ok to use as the base soil? I will be buying that compost to mix with peat moss and vermiculite to make Mel's mix but don't know if its the right thing to use for my base soil.

Thanks for all the great info and support I have found here! You guys are good!

I haven't built my boxes yet. My boxes will be 12 inches deep at the top end of the slope and 20 inches deep at the bottom end of the slope. People here have suggested that I could either add compost or topsoil to the boxes so that there's an even 12 inches(I'm going with 12 inches) of space across the boxes to fill in with Mel's Mix.

Sorry about the little ramble. Anyway, I'd fill in the bottom 8 inches with topsoil. You can certainly use compost but topsoil may be cheaper. If you have the extra compost, you can certainly use that elsewhere.
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Re: Base soil for my raised garden beds

Post  quiltbea on 3/19/2012, 4:01 pm

I'd start with garden loam, that can be delivered cheaper by the truck-load, if you want to fill in the bottoms of your boxes and then just put Mel's Mix on the top 6".

If you can't get the garden loam, get some top soil for the bottoms. There are some pretty inexpensive bags available at most nursery centers.

Not many can afford to fill their boxes with 18" of Mel's Mix. Remember, a 4 x 4 box only 6" deep takes 8 cu feet of MM. Double it for a 12" box and it becomes ultra costly.

Just my itty bitty purse talking.
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Re: Base soil for my raised garden beds

Post  Danni on 3/19/2012, 4:26 pm

I just realized that I read the OP's question wrong. Forget my post.
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Re: Base soil for my raised garden beds

Post  RoOsTeR on 3/19/2012, 7:28 pm

Remember, you only really need 6" of Mel's Mix for most things. You can always use top hats where you want to plant things like carrots and potatoes if you don't want the added expense of filling the entire 18" with Mel's Mix. 18" deep is 3 times deeper than what is really needed. If you went only 6" as Mel suggests, you could fill 2 additional boxes with Mel's Mix just to put it in to perspective.
It cost me right at $90 to fill one 6" deep 4x4 box. I went by the book and purchased 5 different composts, coarse vermiculite, and peat. Your area prices may be higher or lower, but I would much rather fill 3 boxes for $270 than one. Very Happy Not to mention all the more I could grow.
As for filler, if its just to take up space at the bottom, you don't need anything special. Sand, rocks, bricks, limbs, lumber, etc. You could even place a false bottom in there with plywood and drainage holes. I guess if compost is cheap, why not

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Re: Base soil for my raised garden beds

Post  AvaDGardner on 3/20/2012, 1:47 am

@efirvin wrote:Good morning everyone!

I am building raised beds for my new sfg garden plot. (I can't get down on my hands and knees anymore!) They are 16 inches tall. I am going to make 1 4x4 bed all Mel's mix so I can plant potatoes and carrots there.

My question is what to use as the 8 inch base for my other raised beds. I can buy compost from the city at $18 per square yard. Is compost ok to use as the base soil? I will be buying that compost to mix with peat moss and vermiculite to make Mel's mix but don't know if its the right thing to use for my base soil.

Thanks for all the great info and support I have found here! You guys are good!

No, I would not use it. MM is mix of 5 manures for a reason - they all bring something different to the solution. City compost is similar to home compost in that is made from cuttings and 'green trash' but it can be created in a number of ways. You don't know what's in it, or what you'll get out of it, or how it was made or what it will do to your MM.

We get city compost at the garden, and I'm not impressed with it. Your results may vary.

I'd stick with 5 manures.
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Re: Base soil for my raised garden beds

Post  shannon1 on 3/20/2012, 2:08 am

@quiltbea wrote:I'd start with garden loam, that can be delivered cheaper by the truck-load, if you want to fill in the bottoms of your boxes and then just put Mel's Mix on the top 6".

If you can't get the garden loam, get some top soil for the bottoms. There are some pretty inexpensive bags available at most nursery centers.

Not many can afford to fill their boxes with 18" of Mel's Mix. Remember, a 4 x 4 box only 6" deep takes 8 cu feet of MM. Double it for a 12" box and it becomes ultra costly.

Just my itty bitty purse talking.
+1:D I'm planting a extra large pot of pole beans tomorrow and will only be putting MM in the top 6" the rest will be filler some potting soil my neighbor gave me.
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Re: Base soil for my raised garden beds

Post  RoOsTeR on 3/20/2012, 7:21 am

@AvaDGardner wrote:
@efirvin wrote:Good morning everyone!

I am building raised beds for my new sfg garden plot. (I can't get down on my hands and knees anymore!) They are 16 inches tall. I am going to make 1 4x4 bed all Mel's mix so I can plant potatoes and carrots there.

My question is what to use as the 8 inch base for my other raised beds. I can buy compost from the city at $18 per square yard. Is compost ok to use as the base soil? I will be buying that compost to mix with peat moss and vermiculite to make Mel's mix but don't know if its the right thing to use for my base soil.

Thanks for all the great info and support I have found here! You guys are good!

No, I would not use it. MM is mix of 5 manures for a reason - they all bring something different to the solution. City compost is similar to home compost in that is made from cuttings and 'green trash' but it can be created in a number of ways. You don't know what's in it, or what you'll get out of it, or how it was made or what it will do to your MM.

We get city compost at the garden, and I'm not impressed with it. Your results may vary.

I'd stick with 5 manures.

Actually, Mel's Mix consists of 5 different KINDS of composts, not just manures.

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Re: Base soil for my raised garden beds

Post  rrsmith60 on 3/20/2012, 7:47 am

It appears that this one is about put to bed, but I thought I’d put in my 2 cents.

First, I think the advice to use 5 different forms of composted manure is spot on, if one can find it.

Quitbee, is correct as usual, regarding placing a base into the boxes. I’ve several boxes from 16” to 24” deep and they all have a cheaper non-Mel’s Mix base. I also use 6-8” of Mel’s mix on my top of my base. My base was made up of high grade top soil, humus and compost. It’s worked great for me for years. Mel’s mix is great but expensive; there’s no sense in putting it in an area where it’s not needed.

Also, a quick tip about mixing Mel’s Mix; if you have a tumbling composter (such as a Tumbleweed) empty your winter compost and use it to mix the MM. I place equal amounts of my compost, vermiculite and peat in the tumble and give it three spins one way and three the other. This produces a very well mixed lot of MM.
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Re: Base soil for my raised garden beds

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/20/2012, 8:43 am

@AvaDGardner wrote:
@efirvin wrote:Good morning everyone!

I am building raised beds for my new sfg garden plot. (I can't get down on my hands and knees anymore!) They are 16 inches tall. I am going to make 1 4x4 bed all Mel's mix so I can plant potatoes and carrots there.

My question is what to use as the 8 inch base for my other raised beds. I can buy compost from the city at $18 per square yard. Is compost ok to use as the base soil? I will be buying that compost to mix with peat moss and vermiculite to make Mel's mix but don't know if its the right thing to use for my base soil.

Thanks for all the great info and support I have found here! You guys are good!

No, I would not use it. MM is mix of 5 manures for a reason - they all bring something different to the solution. City compost is similar to home compost in that is made from cuttings and 'green trash' but it can be created in a number of ways. You don't know what's in it, or what you'll get out of it, or how it was made or what it will do to your MM.

We get city compost at the garden, and I'm not impressed with it. Your results may vary.

I'd stick with 5 manures.

You're right about not really knowing what's in city compost but I think he would be fine to use it as the base and then Mel's Mix(made with 5 quality composts) on the top.

Just my opinion. What a Face
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Re: Base soil for my raised garden beds

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/20/2012, 8:46 am

@rrsmith60 wrote:Also, a quick tip about mixing Mel’s Mix; if you have a tumbling composter (such as a Tumbleweed) empty your winter compost and use it to mix the MM. I place equal amounts of my compost, vermiculite and peat in the tumble and give it three spins one way and three the other. This produces a very well mixed lot of MM.

OMG rrsmith60.....you just gave me the best idea I've heard in ages..........using a compost tumbler to make my Mel's Mix. I'm doing away with my compost bin and getting a tumbler. Why not use it to make Mel's Mix?
My back thanks you!
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Re: Base soil for my raised garden beds

Post  efirvin on 3/20/2012, 3:44 pm

I haven't built my boxes yet. My boxes will be 12 inches deep at the top end of the slope and 20 inches deep at the bottom end of the slope. People here have suggested that I could either add compost or topsoil to the boxes so that there's an even 12 inches(I'm going with 12 inches) of space across the boxes to fill in with Mel's Mix.

Sorry about the little ramble. Anyway, I'd fill in the bottom 8 inches with topsoil. You can certainly use compost but topsoil may be cheaper. If you have the extra compost, you can certainly use that elsewhere.

Thanks TTT!

I am looking at all options for that bottom half of my raised beds. Thanks for recommending topsoil. I need to price that from a local nursery.
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Re: Base soil for my raised garden beds

Post  efirvin on 3/20/2012, 3:50 pm

I'd start with garden loam, that can be delivered cheaper by the truck-load, if you want to fill in the bottoms of your boxes and then just put Mel's Mix on the top 6".

If you can't get the garden loam, get some top soil for the bottoms. There are some pretty inexpensive bags available at most nursery centers.

Not many can afford to fill their boxes with 18" of Mel's Mix. Remember, a 4 x 4 box only 6" deep takes 8 cu feet of MM. Double it for a 12" box and it becomes ultra costly.

Just my itty bitty purse talking.

Thanks Quiltbea!

I have bought the vermiculite and peat moss, now all I need is a good mixed compost. I will buy some from the city but will probably add more to it to make sure I get a good mix. And yes, I'm only filling one box full of Mel Mix, thats where my potatoes and carrots will be planted.
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Re: Base soil for my raised garden beds

Post  efirvin on 3/20/2012, 4:01 pm

Thanks everyone for your thoughtful replies! I definitely will take all your suggestions in consideration as I prepare my sfg boxes.

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Re: Base soil for my raised garden beds

Post  efirvin on 3/20/2012, 4:55 pm

Dang! I tried to post a pix of my sfg raised beds being made but it didn't post!
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Re: Base soil for my raised garden beds

Post  UnderTheBlackWalnut on 3/20/2012, 10:38 pm

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