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#1 fudgey

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Posted 11 April 2015 - 02:30 PM

As the working husband of a college student, I live in an apartment for the moment and don't have space for a garden. My wife and I looked around and found a nice little community garden that rents a raised bed for $5 per season with a $10 deposit. I just went to help out getting the garden ready for the season and got my first look at my new bed. It's 12x4 so it's about 48 cubic feet +/-. The problem is that there is already dirt in it, and it sucks. It's dry and it's basically just dirt. Doesn't appear to have any nutrients, and a bit rocky. I'd like to salvage some of the soil in it and hopefully get away with just mixing some things into it to get it to a usable state. I've pulled quite a bit of dirt out already and have picked out most of the rocks. Any suggestions on where to go from here? Any advice is helpful! Thanks!

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#2 CAPCOM

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Posted 11 April 2015 - 02:43 PM

Good description but pics always help immensely. Is it dirt like top soil or something that looks like it came from an excavation site?

Are you obliged to use what is there or are you allowed to replace it? Does this raised bed appear have adequate drainage?

 

That's 48 sq feet btw. How deep is the grow bed?


Edited by CAPCOM, 11 April 2015 - 02:45 PM.

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#3 fudgey

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Posted 11 April 2015 - 02:58 PM

I'll have to post pics another time. The box looks like it should drain well. The soil is most likely came from an excavation site, most likely a habitat for humanity project. I should be okay to start from scratch. I'm just wondering if it could be salvaged. If it helps, the dirt is a really light color. It really looks like it's just normal old dirt.
The bed itself is about a foot tall, that's where the 48 cubic feet comes from. It might go deeper down, but I haven't really checked. I can probably just dog it out deeper if I want to. It's really not much for a raised bed, but it's better than nothing I suppose

#4 tctenten

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Posted 11 April 2015 - 03:06 PM

If the soil is ok to use in your opinion, I would just amend it with a bunch of compost and see how it looks and drains after that.  



#5 neoguy

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Posted 11 April 2015 - 04:00 PM

Compost, compost and more compost, even if the compost isn't completely broken down. In addition, add a lot of spent coffee grounds, rabbit, llama and or alpaca manure, these don't have to be composted. And, add any other composted manure you may find. Every year I add alfalfa meal to my beds. If you do this you'll have worms out the ying yang in a year or two. Another commercial product you may want to add if you can find it is Green Sand, usually referred to as Jersey Green Sand, though this takes about 6 months for it to start breaking down.

 

If you have the same bed next year than I suggest you dig in as much shredded leaves and grass clippings as you can into the bed this coming fall.


Edited by neoguy, 11 April 2015 - 04:01 PM.


#6 fudgey

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Posted 11 April 2015 - 09:33 PM

Compost, compost and more compost, even if the compost isn't completely broken down. In addition, add a lot of spent coffee grounds, rabbit, llama and or alpaca manure, these don't have to be composted. And, add any other composted manure you may find. Every year I add alfalfa meal to my beds. If you do this you'll have worms out the ying yang in a year or two. Another commercial product you may want to add if you can find it is Green Sand, usually referred to as Jersey Green Sand, though this takes about 6 months for it to start breaking down.
 
If you have the same bed next year than I suggest you dig in as much shredded leaves and grass clippings as you can into the bed this coming fall.


Thanks! Any word on how many cubic feet of compost to mix in?

#7 CAPCOM

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Posted 11 April 2015 - 10:53 PM

Thanks! Any word on how many cubic feet of compost to mix in?

You need three dimensions to get that answer.  12x4x?

? is what ever empty space you have left after removing what you dont want in there.


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#8 fudgey

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Posted 12 April 2015 - 12:32 AM

You need three dimensions to get that answer.  12x4x?
? is what ever empty space you have left after removing what you dont want in there.

I said in an earlier post, but it's 12x4x1, but I could go deeper if you guys think I should. I've never grown in raised beds before, so I'm a bit of a noob. So basically, if I'm going to keep addy at least some soil that is in there, how much should I pull out and how much compost/other material do I add? Or do I pull it all out and start from scratch? That is a ton of work and probably more money than I'd like to spend, but I'm willing to do it of you all think I should.

#9 CAPCOM

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Posted 12 April 2015 - 12:50 AM

I said in an earlier post, but it's 12x4x1, but I could go deeper if you guys think I should. I've never grown in raised beds before, so I'm a bit of a noob. So basically, if I'm going to keep addy at least some soil that is in there, how much should I pull out and how much compost/other material do I add? Or do I pull it all out and start from scratch? That is a ton of work and probably more money than I'd like to spend, but I'm willing to do it of you all think I should.

ok, that is indeed 48 cubes. and no need to go deeper.

I would add some sand, peat and maybe some perlite along with some cheap top soil and mix it real good. The neuts you can add later.


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#10 fudgey

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Posted 12 April 2015 - 12:57 AM

Thanks! Any recommendation on how much of each? Should I keep, say 50% of the current soil? More? Less? I'm just looking for all the help I can get

#11 CAPCOM

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Posted 12 April 2015 - 01:02 AM

40%top soil, 40% peat, 10% perlite and 10% sand. Thats what I would go with


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#12 filmost

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Posted 12 April 2015 - 02:04 AM

don't forget to either use PH adjusted peat or add lime to the mix. either or, not both
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#13 Pfeffer

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Posted 12 April 2015 - 02:27 AM

Their are plenty of mixes that will work. Just make sure it's a mix of the following components (some ingredients are multipurpose);

Nutrients; Manure, Coffee grounds, worm castings, calcium.

Soil loosener; Rice husks, composted hay/horse manure, shredded leaves, a little scoop of course sand.

Moist retainer; Vermiculite (will get squashed after a season), peat, compost, composted woodchips.

Drainage; Rice husks, perlite


Just make sure to get or lend a pH tester so that you can test the soil. To much calcium can make your soil alkaline, where peppers thrive in a slightly acidic soil.


The other easy option is to buy a few bags of fertilized garden soil, a bit of perlite (3% volume would be enough) and a few bags of compost and simply replace the first foot of soil. Mix the garden soil and compost in a 60/40 ratio. Add two cups of lime on the area and you should have sufficient calcium to prevent blossom end rot.


If you are inexperienced and need to work without soil testing, blindy adding loads of manure, coffee grounds and shredded leaves is bond to get you in trouble.
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#14 Genetikx

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Posted 12 April 2015 - 06:30 AM

It sounds like you have grown in containers before? Are you able to use them in the garden plot? Some people might think that's weird but all you need is their space not their crap dirt.

#15 Dulac

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Posted 12 April 2015 - 12:52 PM

I have a similar problem. I'm growing on what used to be a parking lot at the college I graduated from. I dug out tar and all sorts of trash. I amended fixed the soil with horse manure and Starbuck's coffee grounds. Check your local Starbucks for used coffee grounds (they often give them out to gardeners). I know someone that lets me have free horse manure. If you don't know anyone, you might be able to find some cheap in your area. I'm adding bone meal this year. You might want to try adding bone meal and egg shells (I always throw in egg shells!).


Edited by Dulac, 12 April 2015 - 12:55 PM.


#16 fudgey

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Posted 13 April 2015 - 12:21 AM

thank you everybody! This has been incredibly helpful! I will be investing in several things, including a PH tester. I talked to the manager of the garden, and he's okay with me using some grow bags, so I'll likely be doing some of both. Thanks again!

#17 Geonerd

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Posted 13 April 2015 - 02:45 PM

If you're near a large city, look for an outfit that sells composted organic trimmings.  The stuff is usually quite inexpensive and should do good things for your 'dirt.'

 

I just bought 14 CF / ~100 gallons of this stuff for a dollar a CF.   http://tanksgreenstu...cape-materials/


Edited by Geonerd, 13 April 2015 - 02:48 PM.

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