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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Dirt Basics: Preparing a Raised Bed for Transplants

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I don't want to even pretend there is a set way to prepare your soil. What is important is that you add some organic matter and fertilizer if fertilizer is even needed.  And the biggest key is turning it and loosening the soil. I am trying something different with fertilizer this year and that is a few pinches in a planting hole rather than handfuls in the whole bed.

Fertilizer has its uses. I buy a bag of 10-10-10. It is cheap and basic enough to cover the ranges.  I also use composted manure in the planting holes. My compost is close to ready and I will be using that too at times.

One year I got great radish TOPS and little radish roots. Yep... too much nitrogen.

This garden bed was used for two videos. It was double turned about a week ago and I only added peat moss. It is now ready for planting and I needed to take care of the top 4-6 inches of the bed.

I have clay soil. It is still problematic at times but I decided along time ago that I would fix it slowly over time.

A Turned Raised Bed Hard as Dried Clay: Gary Pilarchik

Now my beds are by no means pure clay and they do well but because I double dug this bed again, a week ago, I brought up some clay chunks from the bottom. Clay dries hard! Soak your raised bed before you go into work with it with your hands. The clay crumbles when damp!

Soak Clay Soil  Down Before You Break It Up: Gary Pilarchik
Added Peat Moss and Lime - The Rusted Garden: Gary Pilarchik
I added about 5 shovel fulls of peat moss to be worked in the top of the garden and 4 handfuls of lime. The peat moss is acidic and the lime is not. It is a way to gently balance the two so the garden stays closer to neutral. If you want to know exactly what you soil needs in way of PH, you have to test your soil. Lime also adds calcium which is good in the prevention of tomato blossom end rot.

The lime was pelleted but it got rained on and well, I broke up the clumps in the picture to spread it as best I could.

Work Over and Mix the Top 6 inches of the Bed: Gary Pilarchik

I used my hands to mix in the top of the soil together to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. It is actually really good exercise. After it is mixed, soaking your soil will hyrdrate the peat moss and turn the lime to liquid. The peat moss and lime will begin their mix. Don't over soak.  In about 30 minutes you can go plant. The crumbled clay will also mix with the peat moss and make it a bit more friendly for planting.

Soak it Down a Bit Before Planting: Gary Pilarchik

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