raised-bed Loosing my mind with my raised beds.......

I have been getting my raised beds ready tilling weeding etc..It rained for 2 days here I was bummed because I wanted to have them done before the rain, Well today it stopped the Sun was out I go out start tilling up the dirt and WTF it was wet on top bone dry 2 inches down- The dirt is not compacted because I have been tilling it up. "I did let it dry out to the point it sucked in a few inch's along the edges formed bricks last year I have not planted in them for a year or longer."
 
I take the water hose water the living hell out of one of the older beds (3 years old) watch the water puddle up on top sink in -I dig down and WTF again 2 inch's down it's bone dry am I going crazy?    Should I remove the soil and place plastic liners in ? The only thing I can think of is the water is some how draining though I don't know what because I tilled it up..  Please help me regain my sanity......... 
 
 
The soil is the stuff they sale at Home Depot as raised bed mix, Its old but each year I replace what has dried up blown off and ran off through watering- I have been replacing the old with a decent soil mix and mixing it in .   
 
Not the question you are asking, but the raised bed mix at home depot is composed of a 1:1:1 mix of compost, vermiculite, and sphagnums peat moss.  When it drops in level that is from the compost being used up.  All you need to replace is with more compost, not entirely new dirt.
 
With that being said, could the moss have gone hydrophobic and is not soaking up water any more?
 
Scuba_Steve said:
Not the question you are asking, but the raised bed mix at home depot is composed of a 1:1:1 mix of compost, vermiculite, and sphagnums peat moss.  When it drops in level that is from the compost being used up.  All you need to replace is with more compost, not entirely new dirt.
 
With that being said, could the moss have gone hydrophobic and is not soaking up water any more?
 
Thanks that makes sense and yea it was pretty much bone dry when I started with it this year.
 
I just read the remedy for this.  Heavily water using warm water and add a wetting agent to the water.  This will force water into the peat, and it will loose its hydrophobic nature.  Then water as normal afterwards.

For a cheap wetting agent, you can use a few drops of detergent per gallon of water.  From what I read, it shouldn't harm future plants.
 
Scuba_Steve said:
I just read the remedy for this.  Heavily water using warm water and add a wetting agent to the water.  This will force water into the peat, and it will loose its hydrophobic nature.  Then water as normal afterwards.

For a cheap wetting agent, you can use a few drops of detergent per gallon of water.  From what I read, it shouldn't harm future plants.
 
I agree both that peat moss gets really hyrophobic if it dries out completely, and the solution is to add detergent (make sure it isnt antibacterial... the cheapest dollar store dish detergent will do the job)
 
The second thing: is the water running off horizontally and soaking into the ground around the bed instead of soaking into the bed... is the dry layer 2 inches down still higher than the ground around the bed?
 
Adding compost, decayed leaves to build humus and mulching to minimize evap. Organic matter in your soil acts like a sponge. The more the better.
 
Here in CT, every Autumn, leave are beyond plentiful and I do my best to mulch em and add them to the soil annually.
 
I've been doing some reading on the benefits of using ramial wood chips (wood chipped from branches, twigs less than 4"). By laying a 6" layer of decomposed wood chips OVER your soil will keep the soil moist, and insulated from extreme temps, and create very fertile soil over time. DO NOT MIX INTO THE SOIL. Just clear woodchips away from the area to be planted and prep the soil for your planting hole as usual. 
 
It makes sense. Just look into the woods. Giant trees lush woodlands and the ground is always covered. Creates a worm farm too
 
I'm going to give mulching with wood chips a try this season in my community garden plot and see what happens.
 
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