Raised Garden Beds

Discussion in 'Fruit & Vegetable Growing' started by PlaneDriver, Jan 3, 2019.

  1. PlaneDriver

    PlaneDriver Member Premium Member

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    Hi All,

    My first post so please be gentle.

    As a city boy, I am very new to gardening! Pretty well everyone I know is very unhelpful in the garden so the internet is now where it turn to! Been following Marks youtube videos and they're absolutely gold!

    Been trying to use gardening as an approach to help family members get out of the house and benefit from the extra activity rather than being parked on the couch day in day out and have caught the gardening bug myself. Started with some small seedlings in pots from Bunnings which consisted of chilli and tomatoes then onto planting a lemon tree in the backyard. Gone from a backyard with absolutely nothing in it to a few pots and a tree now hoping to make the next step..

    Looking to get a bit more adventurous now and impulse bought a raised garden bed from Bunnings with dimensions 200 x 100 x 41cm.

    Question is, what soil would I use? I have tried to look around for different answers but most of them are for raised beds that are a bit taller. As this one is only 41cm tall, I've read that most veges will have their roots in 30cm of soil anyway so would it be right just to use a garden mix from the local supplier and that's it?

    I'm planning to sow radish seeds into the bed to begin with as I understand they germinate the fastest and also are good for the soil as well

    Any help will be really appreciated!
     
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  2. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Hi there PlaneDriver, welcome.:wave:

    So I first thought to see what part of the world you live in because we have members from all over, but your little box on left side of your posts says you are in a very cold region, arctic. mmmm I don't think there are any Bunning's up there. :) :think: I'm guessing you haven't gotten around to filling in that part of your profile yet?

    So that means you are in Australia? Knowing what part of the world helps provide usable answers to questions.

    Something many gardeners in Australia have discovered about 'soil' purchased from bulk garden centres is it is less soil & more rubbish such as bark fines.

    This often dries out & goes hard very quickly so a new gardener can be put off by the added effort to keep the rubbish 'soil' in good condition.

    On the other hand there have been a few members here who have struck it lucky & got good soil & compost but they are in the minority.

    However, filling almost 1m3 (1 cubic m) with bagged potting mix & compost is a very expensive exercise. I think it works out to 40bags so you can do the math if you frequent B's.

    So basically your only option is to buy bulk 'compost' or 'soil' from a garden centre & add bags of bought potting mix, along with Searles 5in1, Searles organic compost with added liquid 5in1, or similar which all have a very high nutritional value & will 'fix' bulk garden centre soil or compost. Always add a couple of large blocks of coir (called 'garden soil' rehydrated in a large barrow and mixed through the growing medium as it provides far more in benefits than its $15/block cost from B's.

    So a good ratio might be half a metre of bulk compost, 2-4 blocks of rehydrated coir fibre, 5x30lt bags 5in1, 5x 60lt bags best grade organic compost. This will fill your raised bed with ready to grow medium that won't burn your seedlings. Then each fortnight apply Searles 5in1 liquid at the recommended rate of foliar feed.

    As you get your own compost going you can begin harvesting some liquid from that but be aware that household compost is generally not well balanced so always add it to the 5in1 liquid.

    Vegies are mostly hungry feeders so they deplete their growing medium within weeks. Its then a constant round of fertilization using liquid, pellets, chemical prilled fertilizer or just simply good old blood & bone with added 'K' every 2wks to get a good crop with few pests.

    30cm is the absolute maximum depth vegies need to have. They are happy to grow in less provided you keep the water up to them. The added coir will help immensely with moisture retention. I grow most of my veg in those colourful plastic containers from B's with potting mix & coir 50/50 plus a few other things. Since I can no longer dig, bend or carry etc, I sit my containers on old garden chairs so they are at waist height. Its amazing just how much you can grow in a 60cm wide x 30cm deep $4 bin! I drill a 12mm sized drainage hole 3-4cm up from the bottom so the container has a 'well' which I firmly pack with woody mulch, then top up the container with my best quality potting mix/coir mix.

    If you are lucky enough to have good soil where you live then by all means take advantage of that blessing & make extra compost for it. Add lots all the time, side dressing you veg as they grow.

    I hope these suggestions get you in the mood for more gardening.
    Yes it takes considerable effort to get the kids faces out of their devices.
    I've heard that turning off the house internet often solves the problem too! ;)
    I know of one mother who offers internet at the rate of 1:1; one hour of gardening or household chores before one hour of internet access! I think that's fair. :)
     
  3. PlaneDriver

    PlaneDriver Member Premium Member

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    Hi ClissAT,

    First of all, thank you so much for your input! That was very informative.

    Yes I haven't got round to updating all the details of my profile yet. But I'm from down in Melbourne in the South Eastern suburbs.

    That was a great tip! Looks like I will follow your soil recipe and give it a go. Basically dump everything into a pile and mix it all together before shovelling into the garden bed i presume? Going on a holiday next week but will be back into the week after. The local garden world recommended to use a garden soil bought from the local supplier but I had no idea that it was likely bad. Quite glad I digged around a bit more now.

    Definitely in the mood for a bit more gardening now thank you so much again for the help!
     
  4. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    G'day @PlaneDriver and congrats on getting into food gardening!

    I agree with everything Clissa wrote (she's quite the gardening guru here on SSC).

    Basically, if you make a mistake in the garden regarding soil such as buying poor quality medium or over fertilising the garden bed etc it's not the end of the world because you can always rectify it.

    That said, if you buy the soil in bulk have a check of it first and try to source good quality crumbly dark medium that's not too sandy. This is easier said than done because good soil like this has to be made/grown by a retailer who knows what they're doing or mined from an area that has naturally good quality soil.

    At the end of the day, if you have no choice but to buy an average soil mix (which is most landscape mixes) then leave room in the top of the bed to add good quality bagged commercial compost or soil and mix this in so at least you get off to a reasonable start.

    Over time you can make your own compost and add manures like chicken poo and your medium will develop into a rich soil full of life and that's what plants love!
     
  5. PlaneDriver

    PlaneDriver Member Premium Member

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    Hi Mark,

    Thank you so much for that info as well! It’s so great to see such a lively forum and your YouTube channel is fantastic! Keep up the great work!

    Can’t wait to get stuck into it!
     
  6. Bea

    Bea Active Member Premium Member

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    I think we are talking about bagged soil that can be suspect. There was a nursery near where I lived in Canada that huge bins, I mean huge, of soil, compost, sand, potash, and bark mulch, etc. Most of us backed our cars up to the piles and shoveled what we needed into bags already in - lined - trunk. As much as we could get into one bag closed or not as we paid by the bag not the volume. at home the bags were rolled into a wheel barrow. then I joined a community garden that used raised beds. I contacted a local fellow who was selling truckloads of fine composted organic soil. I told him my cubic dimensions and for $60 Canadian I filled my plot - (192CU' minus a 4x4 ushaped cut out on one side).and had lots left over for other gardeners. You should look for something like that. Everything grew amazingly well my first season.
     
  7. Mark Seaton

    Mark Seaton Member Premium Member

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    I see I am late to the party, but for a first time small raised bed (and large pots) I was buying the cheap $2.80 bags of soil mix from bunnings, then also buying the cow manure and we always have someone selling sheep manure then adding pelleted chicken manure. I would blend it up and when I plant out would mulch it. Radish are the fastest easiest to grow and you could grow them in almost anything. start with easier fast growing plants and turn the green waste in and keep building by turning in the mulch each season and adding greens. It takes a while, but you eventually build up a good soil.
     
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