Planning for 2013 garden

So, I’m completely redoing my garden area. I’ve built a “rasied bed” around the garden that’s 4" deep. What types of mixes should I be looking at to fill the bed? Peat Moss, compost (mushroom, manure, etc), black dirt? What’s best? Should I create a mix?

Thanks in advance.

I suppose that would depend on what you’re growing.

Just a typical vegetable garden. It will be a mix of veggies from tomatoes to lettuce to peas and green beans.


Sandy Loam is the direction that I would head.

Check out Mel Bartholomew’s book “Square Foot Gardening” - he’s got everything you need on soil mix suggestions.

Basically: 1/3 compost, 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss
Provides plant nutrition, drainage, and does not compact so supports root growth.

Where your bed is located is going to play a big part as well. Mels mix is basically a potting blend and does well for retaining water. However, it might retain too much moisture if you are planting in a bottom that gets lots of water.

It’s just flat IL farmland. It’s a new subdivision development that used to be corn fields.

Hi Tyrius,

I highly suspect that you may have compaction and nitrate issues in your land. I would recommend working a layer of bark into the soil before adding anything to the bed. Tookalisten’s suggestion of 1/3 compost, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 peat moss is a great idea over that. I would avoid using extra fertilizer for the first two years that you plant. your plants may be a little smaller, but you will be giving the soil a nice long chance to adjust to the changes. It will also give the soil a chance to get rid of extra salts that may affect planting.
I have found that in reclaimed land, mycoremediation works very well. In fall, spread leaves over your beds and just let it sit through the winter. A nice thick layer so that fungus can find a good home underneath it. There are some products that can spur the process, but it’s not strictly necessary. Eventually you will see toadstools popping up in the garden and even in your lawn if you have one. That’s good, don’t try to get rid of them.
That layer of bark underneath your filling will allow roots to find breathing space. It will break down over time and help to solve compaction problems caused by repeated corn planting and by the construction process. Take note of any “puddly” areas and dig an extra layer of compost into them. The soil will thank you.
I hope this helps :slight_smile:

I think I’ve dealth with the compaction issues. I’ve had a garden then for the last couple of years and have dug it down 8-10 inches and use a small tiller each year to till it back up. I’ll be adding another 4 inches of “soil” on top of that.

Adding some tree bark is an interesting idea.

Since, I’m planting in an area that I have to water regularly should I just go with my own version of Mel’s mix?

That sounds like a good idea to me. Which ever mix you feel is best for the area should work. You can tweak it by adding different materials each season.

The compaction that I am referring to occurs well below the 8-10 inches you can reach. It is the result of years of machinery and fertilizer use, usually down 5 to 10 feet. The bark should assist quite nicely and as you develop mycoflora, that will help break up that compaction and change the deep soil into a more porous composition. It should happen over a number of years. Until then you may have puddling problems during rainy seasons. Your raised beds are a very good idea and should keep your plants safe from minor flooding.

You might want to consider a soil test too for your new space so you know where you’re starting. I say this as I wish I’d done it with my new beds.

I also agree that a soil test will help out greatly. Ward Labs does a great job with soil tests if you are looking for a source.