Top Soil Purchasing

We have been advised by the Environmental people to make raised beds with a membrane to not disturb soil that may be contaminated by asbestos (this was one of the options.) However I have been looking online to buy topsoil and have found a few sites that look o.k but I am wondering if anyone has any recommendations. It will be to grow crops in and we grow organicly. Any advice would be appreciated as I don't want to find I have wasted a lot of money that we can ill afford to loose.
Hope there is someone out there who can help. Jinkie.
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Jinkie


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Jinkie wrote:

This is an international group, you need to give your location to get a sensible answer to this. Secondly buying online is not a good idea as you need to see and feel what you are buying. Soil varies very much in content and price, to a degree you pay for what you get but there are cases of bargains and of rubbish that you don't want.
David
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Find an organic farm near you (look on Craig's list or at the farmers market selling fruit or veggies). Call them and tell them you would like to buy some of their "amended" soil to fill your boxes. It is the best way of knowing that the soil has not been contaminated with anything. Ingrid
wrote:

Somewhere between zone 5 and 6 tucked along the shore of Lake Michigan on the council grounds of the Fox, Mascouten, Potawatomi, and Winnebago
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So, Jinkie, putting the 2 previous posts together, you get don't buy topsoil on the internet (unless you can get a "certification of organic" for it which I imagine would be very expensive), and seek advice from organic gardeners. Even the organic farmers, needed to wait 3 or more years before they are certified organic.
Do you have local landscape businesses? See if you can't get one recommended by a local organic farmer. Once you have reasonably clean soil you can amend it to taste. ===== A sample should be taken with surface organic material scraped aside. Sample should be taken from a hole 8" to 12" deep (the material from that hole is your sample).
If you put the sample in a large jar with water and shake the sample until it forms a slurry, the sand will fall out after five min. or so, the silt after 20 min., and the clay after 24 hours (descending particle size). The height of each band in comparison to the total sedimentation will give you the approximate composition of your soil. Good soil will be 20 - 30% clay, 30-50% silt, 30 - 50% sand. Bring this soil to 5% by weight, or 10% by volume of organic material, and you are ready to start growing. ===== Treat the soil organically, and 3 years later, you will have organic soil.
As far as I know, there is nothing dangerous about growing in asbestos tainted soil, you just don't want to inhale the asbestos particles. With that in mind, I'd suggest that you practice, no dig, lasagna gardening.
NO DIG GARDEN BEDS (from Esther Dean's Book "No Dig Garden")
A No Dig garden bed is made on top of the ground.
It can be built over existing garden beds, lawns and even hard or rocky ground.
It should be situated in a sunny area that receives morning sun and that has good drainage.
It can be any size or shape, depending on the space you have and the materials to hand.
It is best to start with a small bed, (2M x 1.5M) but plan it so that you can expand when you want to.
When preparing the site it is not necessary to pull up the lawn or existing garden. However if the ground is very uneven or rocky, it should be levelled off by raking in coarse mulch (leaves, twigs etc.)
BUILDING THE GARDEN
1. Form the outside wall of the garden. For this you can use logs, old planks, tiles, bricks, stones etc.
2. Lay down a thick layer of wet newspaper (soaked) making sure it completely covers the enclosed area. It should be at least 6mm. thick and overlap. This kills off any weeds and stops new ones growing. Do not use glossy or coloured paper. (Only plain newspaper)
3. Lay down pads of lucerne hay (no gaps).
4. A 20 mm layer of good organic fertilizer. (chicken manure is great)
5. Cover with about 200mm thick of loose bedding straw.
6. A 20 mm layer of good organic fertilizer.
7. Finish off with a top layer of compost, about 100mm thick.
8. Water well and allow to settle.
9. Plant out seedlings. ( not seeds )
One bale of lucerne hay and one bale of straw make a good -sized garden.
In a new garden the best plants are potatoes, lettuce, brassicas, cucurbits. Root crops are better when the bed is mature.
It is better to plant vegetables in small blocks of different varieties than in long rows or a whole bed of one thing.
Keep your beds topped up with compost or mulch. This prevents weeds, retains moisture and promotes steady healthy growth. ===== I start my plants in trays that have 1" by 1" cells, and when they are ready to plant, I use a sharpened shovel handle (dibble) to poke holes in the garden bed where I want to put the plant.
Good luck
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