how high should my raised beds be? I have really crappy soil and i've
decided that i will be growing my tomatoes, carrots, and snap peas in a
raised bed. Now, i don't know deep the roots will grow, but i need to
know how deep to make the bed.
If I can't make the bed high enough, what kinds of supplements should i
put in my soil? I live in the Bay Area, California and my soil is
sorta rocky and has lots of clay. What should i put in it to be
nutritious for my plants?
Tomatoes and peas don't have incredibly deep roots - obviously,
carrots are another story. My beds are only about 9", but that's more
for drainage than anything else.
Hey, it's the same as anywhere: Lots of organic matter. Loosens clay,
feeds sand. Get a garden supply place to dump a cubic yard or so of
mushroom compost on your driveway, and turn it in, along with some
steer manure. It'll make a huge difference. Compost everything you can
and turn it in every spring, along with more steer manure, and after a
few years you'll have nice light soil that doesn't clump and is full
I make a mix of top soil, sand, and compost to fill in my raised beds. I
make mine only high enough to get them off the ground 8 to 10 inches, and
still be able to get my tiller up into it. I raise onions, asparagus,
carrots, squash Japanese radishes, and sweet potatoes.
I have a friend who always puts any grass he mows in his garden area. He
lays it between the rows of veggies to keep weeds down and moisture in.
Then during the fall after the garden is done, he plows/roto-tills it all
together. He can grow the biggest butternut squash I have ever seen.
6in will help, 12in would be better. More than that will be more costly and
not much help except for the most deep-rooted plants, although it would be
nice not to have to bend/kneel to work your garden if you can afford it :-)
If your bed is only small you can be extravagant!
I have really crappy soil and i've
If your soil is crappy just building the beds will not do very much for
nutrition but it will improve drainage (which is good) generally you need to
improve the soil anyway.
Things to add
(1) Plenty of organic matter, this will be what you can get access to and
afford to buy. For example; prepared compost, spent mushroom compost, leaf
mould, fine rotted mulch (not wood chips), rotted grass clippings, manures.
If buying fresh manure make sure it has a couple of months to rot before you
plant. Organic matter will improve texture and nutrients. In the long term
it is very handy to make your own compost continuously instead of buying it.
(2) Gypsum will help break up the clay, this is good as it improves
workability and drainage and allows plant roots to penetrate.
(3) Garden lime if the soil is too acid. Get a pH test kit, the dye
indicator sort are cheap and accurate enough for the purpose. Clay soils
are often quite acid and so is compost unless it is already limed by the
You cannot build good soil overnight, start soon and be ready for next
yes around 10"s is sufficient.
With peace and brightest of blessings,
"Be Content With What You Have And
May You Find Serenity and Tranquillity In
A World That You May Not Understand."
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