What are the best soil materials for raised beds?

I am building contained raised beds for vegetables on top of my existing vegetable garden. The existing garden has clayish soil that I amended with 2" of manure last year. I would like to add about 4" of material on top of this and do and turn it into the existing soil. I have municipal compost, composted manure, peat compost (not peat moss), and screened topsoil available to purchase in my area. What would be the best mix for the raised beds?

Also, what is the general rule of thumb for converting pounds of topsoil to cubic feet. Is it 40 lbs equals roughly 1 cu. ft.?

In case anyone is wondering, I’m building the raised beds for better spring soil warming, better drainage, to focus organic fertilizer applications where needed and to create a no-till soil structure.

I have had so much success with French gardening (raised bed). So many advantages:

>head start on growing season; heightened bed gets a week or two added to frost free season.
>ease in cultivating and weeding; less bending required
>better DRAINAGE, by virtue of the design
>aesthetically pleasing
> ready structure to attach standards, stakes and netting etc

I always used well aged cattle manure, wheel barrels full of wood ash, a few handfuls of dolomite lime (magic stuff) and clean sand (when I could get it). some friends swear by worm castings and vermiculite etc, but you want to minimize the cost all that you can.

Keep the beds lofty light and never compact the soil. Another soil amendment that I used lots was well aged kitty litter with kitties dropping of course. Coffee grounds should make it to the compost pile. So the bottom line here is to have good drainage and to incorporate inexpensive materials.

I obtained these figures from online and something interesting can be noted by comparing your 40 pounds to the higher numbers below.

The healthiest most friable soil for raising vegetables is one that has good drainage. Most plants desire this. Friable soil WOULD be far less dense than unusable soils.

So, the 40 pounds per cubic foot sounds ideal.

Earth, loam, dry, excavated – 78 pounds/cubic foot
Earth, moist, excavated – 90 pounds/cubic foot
Earth, wet, excavated – 100 pounds/cubic foot
Earth, dense – 125 pounds/cubic foot
Earth, soft loose mud – 108 pounds/cubic foot
Earth, packed – 95 pounds/cubic foot

These figures are likely for construction purposes and have no bearing on vegetable gardening. However, one can see that soil can become quite heavy, compacted and basically useless to grow most vegetables in.

Mulch? Is it best to lay it around the beds of flowers and plants in my garden?

Hello, everyone seems to say laying mulch around the beds of flowers and plants is the best way to keep the moisture in the soil? is this true, what are other benifits for doing so?

mulch is a living organism and will slowly "disolve" for lack of a better word into the ground. the vitimins and minerals in the mulch will help fertilize the flowers and plants under the mulch and enrich them.

mulch is good for keeping your roots cool from the hot sun, keep the soild moist after the rest of the soil has dried and in cooler temperatures it acts as a thermol blanket for the roots and bulbs that have just been planted.

plus it can be very attractive depending on how it is done.

How do I begin a new veg/heb garden in an already estabished gardening bed?

I just bought a house with great gardening beds. The only issue is I’m new to gardening and would like to get rid all the plants currently growing there to add new ones. I’d like to pot the rosemary instead of having it on the bed because it seems so invasive. The tomato plants seem to be done for the season. Do I pull them? There are also strawberries, thyme, and others I have no idea what they are.

Yes, you can do a make over bed. How big is the Rosemary, and any idea how old it is? If the Rosemary is large and leggy, it may not transplant well. If it is smaller, you shouldn’t have any problems transferring it into a pot.

You can take out the plants you don’t want and rework the soil. Prepare the soil like you would a new bed. If it is a large area you can til the soil over and work the ground. If it isn’t too large of an area, turn the soil over with a shovel and rake it out. Add some organic mushroom compost to the soil as this acts as a year fertilizer.
If the tomatoes are done, you can go ahead and take them. Pot the thyme and strawberries. This will give you more space to plant some things you might enjoy year around. Consider some evergreen shrubs for color as well as perennial flowers for accents.
Take a look at my website landscape solutions as there are many articles as well as tips and techniques on preparing and placing shrubs and flowers in a garden. There are also different pictures of trees, shrubs, flowers, and herbs for you to look at. I will take you to my site map page and browse through the differernt topics. I hope this has helped some and if you need some further help, please feel free to contact me. Good luck to you!

Video on Using Organic Matter To Construct A No Till Garden

No till gardening using organic methods video presented at HerbFest, 2008 by Dr. Milton Ganyard.

Duration : 0:9:41

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Neighbor-to-Neighbor Florida Friendly Landscaping: 4. Mulch

Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program and WGCU Public Media produced a series of 1-minute segments. This one is about mulch and mulching practices. Visit Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program at www.chnep.org.

Duration : 0:1:1

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Container Gardening: Container Herb Garden

Container gardening is a great way to grow plants, vegetables and herbs without needing a lot of space. Herbs do especially well and can be grown right outside your kitchen door. In this video, you’ll learn how to use an old farmer’s market basket to make a great container garden. Fill it with your favorite herbs and your cooking will be full of flavor all summer long.

Duration : 0:6:7

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