Modify Raised Garden Bed Soil
When you set them up for the first time, you may fill the raised garden bed with fresh and fertile soil. However, over time, the nutrients in this soil will be depleted and may lose productivity. Therefore, the raised garden bed soil must be improved regularly by adding new soil and organic matter to supplement soil nutrients. Regular use of the correct soil conditioner to refresh the soil of the raised garden bed is the key to maintain the health and productivity of the raised garden bed soil.
So, what can I do to maintain the health and productivity of the soil for raised garden beds and overhead flower pots? At the end of each winter (about the middle of February in my 7a area), the following methods are used to prepare raised garden beds for spring planting:
Step 1. Remove debris from raised garden beds
Keep the elevated garden bed free of debris and decaying plant substances, and ensure that your soil is free of unwanted pests and disease causing spores. The following is how to clean the raised garden bed:
Remove any old plants, stems or branches that no longer exist. These can be composted or thrown away.
Remove any rotten fruit or leaves. These can also be composted or thrown away.
Rake up any loose dirt, debris, and stones that accumulate between raised garden beds.
Leave old roots in the soil:
Although it may be intuitive to leave the roots of old plants in the soil, it is helpful to leave them in the soil! The soil on the raised garden bed is a living thing. It has its own biodiversity. If the root is removed, the beneficial microbial and fungal colonies developed in the root last year will be destroyed. On the other hand, if root fibers remain in the soil, they will eventually self decompose and add to the organic matter in the soil.
Once completed, your elevated garden bed will be clean and ready for the next step!
Step 2. Check and repair raised garden bed
Walk around the elevated garden bed. Check the sides carefully to ensure that the wood or panels are not loose. If you find any cracks, uneven surfaces, or sagging in an area, repair it immediately. If not repaired, the raised garden bed will sag from this area. In addition, each watering and heavy rain will cause greater damage, which may eventually lead to the soil being washed away.
Step 3. Soil ph test for each raised garden bed
Ask any horticulturist - what is the most important thing before planting anything in the garden? I bet nine out of ten will say they want to test the soil ph value. Although understanding soil ph is critical to the success of the gardening season, many gardeners skip this part and regret it later.
Soil ph value is an indicator of soil acidity or alkalinity. Soil ph affects the ability of plants to absorb essential nutrients from the ground. Most vegetables prefer soil ph between 6.0 and 6.8. If your soil is not within the required range, you can modify it with limestone or sulfur to adjust the ph value accordingly.
Testing soil ph is important because it tells you how well the soil supports plant growth. If the ph value is too acidic or too alkaline, you can modify the ground so that the ph value is close to 6-7.5, so that your plants can obtain the required nutrients from the soil.
Ask the promotion office in your county for information about soil ph testing. Most of them provide this service free of charge or at a very symbolic cost. However, it will take two to six weeks to get results from them, so plan accordingly.
Another benefit of soil testing is that it guides you in deciding which types of soil amendments need to be added to improve soil fertility.
Step 4. Add compost to raised garden bed soil
Compost is an important ingredient in any organic garden. It's also a great way to recycle kitchen and yard waste. You can make your own compost or buy it from your local nursery or garden center.
The following are examples of various composts that you can add to the soil of a raised garden bed:
Compost is a mixture of decaying organic materials decomposed by microorganisms. Most compost bags that can be purchased in a garden store contain a variety of organic substances, such as leaves, food scraps and grass cuttings, which are combined into a pile or garbage can and decomposed. Composting improves soil structure and fertility by improving soil water retention, nutrient retention and aeration capacity.
Cow dung is an excellent organic fertilizer because it is rich in nutrients: 3% nitrogen (N), 2% phosphorus (P) and 1% potassium (K). The NPK value is (3-2-1). These nutrients are essential for plant growth. Cow dung also contains high ammonia content, which helps to decompose organic matter in the soil and provide nutrients for plants. However, fresh cow dung is effective and may burn plants. Be sure to buy "compost cow dung", which has aged and inflated, and is safe for vegetables and other delicate plants.
Mushroom compost is a rich organic material, which is very suitable for use as a soil conditioner or fertilizer. It combines animal excrement, wheat or rye straw, peat moss, cottonseed shell, grape pressing in distilleries, soybean meal, potassium fertilizer, gypsum, urea, ammonium nitrate and lime in various proportions. Then let it decompose. The result is a dark, nutrient rich mixture that helps improve soil quality and help plants grow healthy and strong.
Mushroom compost is rich in soluble salts, which can kill germinating seeds. For this reason, you should not add mushroom compost to the raised garden bed where you plan to guide seed plants such as carrots, beans, coriander, etc.
For gardeners in rural areas, obtaining horse dung is not difficult. Although it contains many nutrients beneficial to plants, be careful when applying fresh horse manure to plants. The disadvantages outweigh the advantages. For best results, let horse dung age in a ventilated place for at least 4 to 6 months before applying it to the raised garden bed.
Self made compost:
You don't have to buy compost bags from the garden store. You can easily convert kitchen residues, garden waste and grass cuttings into valuable soil enhancers in just a few months. You can start composting in a corner of your yard, or invest in a tumbling composter for carefree composting.
Ensure that the organic ingredients are fully decomposed and decomposed before spreading in the garden.
When do I add compost to a raised garden bed?
Ideally, late autumn is the right time to add compost to a raised garden bed. It will give it enough time to release the nutrients in the soil of the raised garden bed before the new planting season in spring. However, it is not too late to add compost at the end of winter, about 6 weeks before planting seedlings on raised garden beds.
How much compost is added to the raised garden bed?
Experts recommend adding a 2-inch thick compost layer to the soil of the raised garden bed every year. This means that,
Add 2 cubic feet of compost for a 3 foot x 3 foot garden
For 4ft x 4ft gardens, add 3 cubic feet of compost.
For a 4 foot x 8 foot garden, add 6 cubic feet of compost.
For 4 ft x 10 ft gardens, add 7 cubic feet of compost.
The best results will be obtained by mixing various composts into the soil of the raised garden bed. For example, for a 4 foot x 4 foot raised garden bed, a bag of cow dung, a bag of mixed compost, and a bag of mushroom compost will add more kinds of nutrients and beneficial bacteria to the soil than adding 3 bags of the same compost.
Step 5. Modify raised garden bed soil
Soil conditioner is different from compost and fertilizer. They "correct" the soil, which means changing the texture of the soil, correcting the quality of the soil, and adjusting or changing the value of some minerals in the soil.
Soil improvers are substances added to soil to improve its physical and chemical properties, such as soil structure, drainage, aeration, water retention and nutrient availability. They can also help reduce soil erosion and compaction, and inhibit plant diseases and pests. If you follow this routine, you do not need to consider how to modify the soil around existing plants.
Common soil amendments include peat moss, rock powder, worm castings, lime and sulfur.
Lime and sulfur:
As mentioned above, most garden vegetables prefer slightly acidic soil, with a ph range of 6.0-6.8. If the soil ph test results are within this range, there is no need to add lime or sulfur to the soil.
If your soil is too alkaline or acidic, you can add garden lime or sulfur (garden acidifier) to adjust the ph accordingly. Lime makes the soil more alkaline, while sulfur makes the soil more acidic.
Study and find out which and how much you need to add to the soil. Do not apply lime and sulfur on the soil of the same raised garden bed at the same time. Based on your soil PH test results, you only need one of them.
Lime shall be added in autumn or winter before planting new plants in spring. Sulfur can be applied at any time during the growing season. Be sure to read and follow the instructions on the product label to obtain the correct application rate.
Adding worm castings to soil is a good method to improve soil structure. They help the soil ventilate by making the soil lose and fluffy, so that the plant roots can more easily transmit and absorb water and minerals in the soil. Worm castings also improve drainage and reduce soil compaction.
Worm castings are rich in nutrients and can be used as slow release organic fertilizer. They help plants grow healthily by providing long-term nutrition.
When do I add a worm pour to the soil of a raised garden bed?
You can add worm castings to the garden soil at any time during the growing season. However, applying them early in the spring will give seedlings a quick start. You can also side mount plants in the middle of the season to provide them with additional nutrition.
How many worm throws are added to the raised garden bed?
At the beginning of the season (early spring), sprinkle 1 cup per square foot on the surface of the raised garden bed. This means
For a 3ft x 3ft garden, place 9 cups of worm casting.
For a 4ft x 4ft garden, lay 16 cups of worm castings.
For a 4ft x 8ft garden, spread out 32 cups of worm castings.
For a 4ft x 10ft garden, place 40 cups of worm castings.
In the middle of the season, you can add about 1/4 cup of worm castings around the bottom of each established plant.
Rock dust mineral:
Carbohydrate, protein and fat are the main nutrient blocks of human beings. Nevertheless, they do need vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K as well as iron, magnesium, calcium and other minerals for optimal health. For plants, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are the main components, but they do need other minerals to get the best health. Unfortunately, compost and other organic matter cannot make up for the lack of minerals in the soil.
When to add rock dust to the soil of the raised garden bed?
Ideally, late autumn to mid winter is a good time to add rock dust to the raised garden bed. Although it may take several years for some minerals to decompose in the soil, it is better to add rock powder to the soil before planting time than at planting time.
How much rock dust is added to the raised garden bed?
For vegetables, it is recommended to apply about 1 pound per 10 square feet. This means
For a 3ft x 3ft garden, sprinkle a pound of rock dust.
For a 4ft x 4ft garden, sprinkle 1.5 pounds of rock dust.
For a 4 foot x 8 foot garden, sprinkle 3 pounds of rock dust.
For a 4 foot x 10 foot garden, sprinkle 4 pounds of rock dust.
Rock dust is a very fine powdery material, which cannot be well mixed with water. Wear a mask when scattering rock dust, as it may enter your respiratory system. In addition, avoid using in windy days.
Mix compost and conditioner into soil
Whether you are just adding compost or adding all the improvers at once, be sure to mix them 4 to 6 inches on top of the raised garden bed soil.
Use a large garden fork to break down the compacted soil. Next, mix the top 4-6 inches of soil so that the newly added compost and conditioner can go deep underground. Combining the top layer can aerate the soil and add more oxygen deeper into the raised garden bed.
When mixing, remove any stones, acorns, or pinecones you find. Break up large pieces of soil, if any.
Mix the raised garden bed soil and water thoroughly. The best way to water the raised garden bed is to install a drip irrigation system for the elevated garden bed and let it run to wet the top 6 inches of soil.
When you set up an elevated garden bed, you may have filled the raised garden bed with the best soil. However, even the best soils deplete nutrients and organic matter over time. In addition, vegetables and other fruit plants grown on raised garden beds need fertile, well drained soil. Therefore, it is essential to improve the soil of the raised garden bed regularly to maintain the fertility and productivity of the raised garden bed.
Remember to test the soil ph every year and adjust it as needed. Adding different types of compost and amendments is a good way to refresh the raised garden bed soil and prepare for spring planting. Investment soil; Your plant will thank you and reward you!