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Bed preparation dilemna....

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Bed preparation dilemna....

Post  kdms on Sat 22 Sep 2012 - 5:54

Hello everyone...I've been lurking for awhile and I've got a bit of a dilemna on my hands about bed preparation. Back in the spring, before I learned about SFG, we'd cleared a fair amount of space in our rather hilly (and rocky) backyard and discovered we were in possession of rather nicely shaped and sized terraces....more than enough space to put in several long, raised beds, as what little soil there was clearly wasn't going to work with the traditional method of gardening. So we went ahead and had 10 yards of a really nice topsoil/compost organic soil delivered, and managed to get a few beds built, filled, and planted in the traditional manner. This took all of maybe 2 yards, and the rest of the soil is still sitting in it's original delivery spot, although at least we covered it with a tarp so it didn't get soggy during rains. All told, the remaining 8 yards is still in really good shape. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the beds did, considering this year's drought, and the extremely minimal maintenance I had time to do.

Enter the SFG method. I'd like to convert a couple of the existing beds to the SFG style, and build up the terraces with more boxes. The issue: I've got 8 yards of dirt that is a mix of peat moss and other unidentifiables, and although it appears to perform quite well, I can almost guarantee there isn't 5 different types of compost in it.

I really don't have the cash to hunt down five different types of compost, and I really don't want to waste the soil we've already bought. I know there's peat moss in it already, and at least two types of compost according to the company I got it from. What I was hoping to get some input on is should I build the beds, mix the existing soil with vermiculite, and just expect less than spectacular results until time eventually results in the squares all having a proper MM in it due to harvest/replant cycles? Is there a way to test my remaining soil to determine how much peat moss is in it, so I know if I need to add any peat moss along with the vermiculite?

I should also add that I have to move/use all 8 yards in the next month or so, before it snows, because it's sitting right where our snow gets piled from the guy that comes to do the plowing.... tongue

thanks....k

kdms

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Re: Bed preparation dilemna....

Post  rowena___. on Sat 22 Sep 2012 - 6:07

welcome kdms!

@kdms wrote:
What I was hoping to get some input on is should I build the beds, mix the existing soil with vermiculite, and just expect less than spectacular results until time eventually results in the squares all having a proper MM in it due to harvest/replant cycles?

that is what i would do if i were in your position. the fact that you had such good results suggests that you have a good blend in your mix.

start where you are, improve as you go, keep notes and enjoy your progress.

rowena___.

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Re: Bed preparation dilemna....

Post  camprn on Sat 22 Sep 2012 - 6:11

@rowena___. wrote:welcome kdms!

@kdms wrote:
What I was hoping to get some input on is should I build the beds, mix the existing soil with vermiculite, and just expect less than spectacular results until time eventually results in the squares all having a proper MM in it due to harvest/replant cycles?

that is what i would do if i were in your position. the fact that you had such good results suggests that you have a good blend in your mix.

start where you are, improve as you go, keep notes and enjoy your progress.
+1 and hunt up some local compost sources that are not necessarily from big box stores. Do you have any local dairy farms, horse, goat or llama farms? Friends raising chickens?

glad you\'re here to the SFG Forum! Have you read the All New Square Foot Gardening book(2006) yet?

____________________________

41 years a gardener and going strong with SFG.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-weeks-until-frost

There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1306-other-gardening-books




camprn

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Re: Bed preparation dilemna....

Post  kdms on Sat 22 Sep 2012 - 10:12

Thanks for the welcome Very Happy

The 2006 version finally came available from the library (after being on a long waiting list) and that's the one I read. It's now been put on my wish list for future purchase..... Laughing

We get, I would say, over 60% of our groceries from local farms, including raw milk, eggs, cheese, assorted meats, etc. We've managed to develop some pretty good relationships in the process so I'll check with them for other sources of compost....thanks for the suggestion! Smile

kdms

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Re: Bed preparation dilemna....

Post  quiltbea on Sat 22 Sep 2012 - 10:43

Don't waste that good garden loam. Use it to build your beds and add the other stuff as you go forward. That would include compost, compost, compost. Sprinkle in a few organic amendments to be sure you have your proper NPK. N=Nitrogen: Bloodmeal, alfalfa meal, soybean meal, leaf mold, fish meal, manure. P=Phosphorus: Bonemeal, rock phosphate, limestone, mushroom compost. K=Potassium: Greensand, seaweed, wood ashes. Don't overdo the amendments. Read the package labels for amounts to add.
A good combination would be to fill your boxes about 3/4 full with the loam, etc., and then later add on top 3-6" of Mel's Mix.
Keep us posted with pics as you get going. We love pictures.


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