raised beds

Discussion in 'Growing Organic Marijuana' started by Irie67, Mar 29, 2012.

  1. Im building three large raised beds for veggie gardening out of cinder blocks stacked 2 bricks high. Im wondering if the soil mix that I use for MJ is the same mix i should use for these beds. Or should I change it. Its a decently hot mix. And it might be kind of expensive buying the ingredients for that much soil.

  2. Can you purchase top soil locally? If so I would use that and mix in a little of the expensive stuff. Or just amend the top soil......MIW
  3. I have a compost company locally that carries all kinds of stuff. They have a raised bed mix that is a mix of top soil, compost, and aged pine fines. Does that sound good? I dont think the compost in this mix has any manure in it, they do sell composted manure though. I could just add it myself as well as my normal amendments of crab, neem, kelp, espoma, ect. What about Peat? airation ammendments? unnessessary?
  4. Irie mate, I'll offer my opine based on a little research and a lot of practical experience. And I'll take a few pics later to substantiate my point.

    With outdoor raised beds you should build a soil closer to the suggestions of what is offered under a "traditional" agricultural mix, slightly modified, and heavy on organic matter. I'm not a fan of pine bark in the garden soil but that's just my personal feelings. If the compost those folks are selling locally is working well for others, go forth. If you have an agriculture extension office nearby go meet the head field agent and talk up what other options you might have locally. But pine bark issues aside...

    The depth of your beds will be 14"-16". a 5'x5' bed requires approxiately 350sf of filler - that's a lot! So yeh, if you try to make a raised bed armed with the ingredients we typically put into a 5gal container it's going to cost a bunch of mulla. Otherwise, try to source some of the materials like alfalfa via bales of hay or 50# of feed at the farm store.

    The best thing, IMO, about raised beds is years 2-infintum. Year one is preperation. Green mulching, composting kitchen scraps, adding this-n-that throughout the years is what gets that soil really, really special. For mine I purchased the typical 40# bags of stuff available at the big box stores and hand mixed each batch specific to the layer it was in in the box. A heavier clay-type soil went in the bottom layers, covered in green mulch (mine was fresh cut alfalfa), layered again, green mulch, layered again, etc. Only the top 6"-8" of my bed was energized with a fertilizer and that was regular old Espoma. After all said and done I covered the top of it with a thick layer of alfalfa and left it alone. I'm on my third year with these beds and year 2 was explosive growth. I expect more better results this year.

    Perhaps my main point is this. The CeC of the soil is going to come into much larger play with your outdoor beds. It's there, IMO, that you want to concentrate on as this is going to hold your nutrient profile together longer and just be better for the soil. And it's here that you can save some money by buying regular soil, compost, manure, etc from the big box stores, hand mix it using consistent measurements, fill those boxes with it, load it up with organic matter, and mulch the heck out of the very top. In 2-3 months you'll have a soil so rich you won't need much maintenance through the years to come. An occasional regular dry fert and AACT, more compost, and fogeddaboutit. Just add dechlorinated tap water.

    Go with the compost and definitely check for a local ag office. You can also email universities and they'll sometimes be able to help you locate such connections. Great idea and though you won't need any, good luck and have some fun with those raised beds. If you get it right the earthworms and other critters will find their way to the new spaces and they'll set up homestead. Treat 'em right and they'll stay their entire carbon cycle just to help you out :)
  5. This is the company close by that has a range of products to choose from.
    St. Louis Composting, Enriching the Soil - Naturally - Since 1992. 636-861-3344

    Im thinking I'll buy some topsoil, some of their premium compost, and maybe some leaf mulch to top everything with. I'll hand mix it like you suggest that way I can avoid the pine fines. I've already got 50# bags of kelp, alfalfa, and azomite. I make my own EWC. I will put that in the planting holes, because I don't have enough for the entire mix. Thanks for all the help guys!

  6. I use the same mix for everything, so not super hot.

    It doesn't get added to the garden/raised bed till the peat is totally broken down after ~3 years. Trying to make raised beds from a mix from the git go is an expensive proposition. Add it as you can afford to.

    A tip with the cinder blocks. Use the cells to grow herbs, onions, whatever. The cell on one block holds about 1 gallon of mix and works great. Leave some vacant so you have a place to put your foot for reaching into the garden.

    Why not go only 1 high to start, use a bale of peat moss/perlite/amendments and go from there? Just getting enough 'stuff' to come up to one course of blocks is a lot.

  7. I didn't even want to buy cinder blocks. I lined my raised beds with an old bed post frame, and covered it with the gravel I dug up.
  8. A friend of mine has an old horse barn that I found a bunch of alfalfa bales and 40 pound bags of molasses beet pulp. These items are at least 7 to 10 years old. Will these be good for my raised beds and compost pile? Will they be less effective because of their age?
  9. it depends on how they were stored.

    if the manure is totally dry, than it will be nutrient rich but it may not have a very active microbial population.

    not too sure about the beet pulp, never had any experience with it over here.

  10. Irie, if nothing else you can at least compost them. If they are free you will only have some time and sweat invested.
  11. A heavier clay-type soil went in the bottom layers, covered in green mulch (mine was fresh cut alfalfa), layered again, green mulch, layered again, etc.[

    I was trying to follow this advice from possum while building these beds. I will definitely compost the leftovers. They were stored dry. There is no mold or anything. The bales are still wrapped in twine and are pretty solid and the bags of beet pulp mollasses were unopened. I guess i'll just go for it. I cant imagine it would do much harm. Thanks for the advice here guys. Im so fucking excited about these beds. I just got done tilling about 3 inches of compost into the area. Then im gonna put the raised beds on top of the compost enhanced ground. Should be good.
  12. Im so fucking excited about these beds.

    Spring Fever Irie! Woo-Hoo!

    Best of luck man. Good vibes all around!

  13. Sounds great irie. I'm just now settling into a new enivronment and I'll be getting my new raised beds kicked off post haste. You're on the right track mate. Just keep working the organic matter in, use a turning fork to keep it areated (no tilling) and keep it mulched up real good. don't know if I threw that in on the previous post but keeping a 2"-4" layer of fresh alfalfa hay on top as mulch means weed free gardening all year long along with all the other goodness that comes from composting alfalfa. Just keep it "balanced" and not too much of one thing or the other. That's it!

    You're going to be posting some snaps of outrageous vegetables this summer LOL! Maybe even a GIANT crook neck squash (only if you use Mycos LOL ;) :rolleyes: :smoke:)

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