Raised beds built : How to fill them back up?

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by Rabbit Stew, Nov 17, 2009.

  1. Rabbit Stew

    Rabbit Stew Member

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    Hi Friends. I have just completed building two raised beds 10ft by 4 ft and have also double dug the ground underneath and excavated it. Im over in West Vancouver and it seem all to be clay. There is a great deal of panning in the rest of the garden that is visible when it rains. I've just read Steve Solomans growing veg west of the cascades and am now looking to refill the beds with organic fertiliser.

    Im new to town, well North America to be honest, and have popped down to Home Depot looking for Lime but they dont seem to have any and said they haven't for months! Does anyone have any ideas where I can get Lime and Seedmeal here in Vancouver?

    My next project will be buying my seeds. I've found one website " http://www.westcoastseeds.com/ " that seems local so will give that a try once I have planned my garden. Do people have other good lower mainland websites they would recommend?

    Do people recommend joining a local gardening club or is this ' virtual ' gardening club more than enough.


    Actually I just noticed thats three different questions I've asked so I best stop their before the myriad questions I have cascade out.

    Thanks help.

    Rabbit Stew
     
  2. Dana09

    Dana09 Active Member

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    Try a Nursery that specializes in plants
    or a feed store if they have such in your neck of the woods.
    Places like the one you mention are good for seasonal specials but the good stuff is usually found elsewhere.

    D
     
  3. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    If you double dug as in bringing subsoil up into topsoil and mixing them together that was a mistake. You do not want to foul topsoil with fine mineral materials that are often below the topsoil in the first place because they washed out of it originally, as a part of natural soil development processes. "Good" topsoil is often considered good in part because it does not have the heavy or airless condition caused by a large amount of silt or clay particles.

    Two basic common raised bed construction procedures are

    1) Shoveling existing soil into mounds and then installing retaining material like stones or timbers around them, at which point the mounds become raised beds

    or

    2) Installing timber or rock walls or frames on existing, otherwise unmodified level ground and then filling them with suitable soil brought onto the site for the purpose.

    With vegetables in a cool climate the main benefit of raised beds is the warming of the soil that occurs as a result. It can also be helpful to have bench-like walls around vegetable beds, on which to sit when working.

    Sample your soil and have it tested before attempting to tinker with pH and nutrient levels. Do not pour on lime and nutrient sources without having an idea what you are starting with. Also be careful with the organic matter, there is a limit beyond which that becomes detrimental also.

    You also do not want to be working damp, heavy clay-like soils when these are wet - it makes them worse. On some sites such work really should be undertaken during the warmest and driest weather, such as in July or August.
     
  4. infinidox

    infinidox Member

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    I read that book recently as well, and tried to find seedmeal with no success. Seems like it's something that you would need to buy in very large quantities, and would thus be quite expensive. I ended up using the square foot gardening recipe to a certain extent (peat moss, vermiculite and compost). I was able to fill probably a similar volume to what you have with a truck full of compost, and one bag (3.6cuft I think) each of vermiculite and peat moss. I used less of those two, as the Vancouver city compost is pretty light as it is, and still contains a lot of woody material.

    You can get the compost from the city dump in Delta for about $10 a cubic yard (basically a pickup truck full).
     
  5. April S

    April S Member

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    There are two things here: one is the growing medium and the other is fertilizer which is added to the growing medium. Solomon broadcasts 4-6 quarts of his "complete organic fertilizer" (he gives a recipe in his book) over 100 sq. ft. of bed. (I don't think it works out to be horrendously expensive, except my dogs like the canola meal in it and so dig around in the bed. Also rats will go after it so keep it in a metal can.) Anyway, you don't make the bed out of fertilizer. I'm making a new bed right now and using the "lasagna" approach: several layers of newspaper to get rid of the sod, a layer of seaweed (free at the beach), a layer of used coffee grounds (garbage bags of them are free at Starbucks and some other cafes), and a layer of topsoil (I bought a big truckload five years ago because I am gardening on shale). I'll do two or three layers like this.

    I like West Coast Seeds because they are local and sell varieties that do well in our area. Their catalogue also has a chart showing when to start which vegetables here.

    Infinidox, did you find the intensive spacing with square foot gardening worked well for you?

    I forgot to say, that the canola meal, I got from a feed store where they sell it in big bags (40 lbs? something like that).

    April
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 20, 2009
  6. infinidox

    infinidox Member

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    April,

    This is my first year of gardening as a former apartment dweller, so I haven't been able to compare results at all. I shyed away from the super-intensity of it, but definitely went a little more dense than the seed packets would suggest. My kale has grown like a weed, but the carrots didn't do as well as I had expected. I only managed to build my planters towards the end of the summer, so I haven't been able to get a good solid season worth of growing in. I suspect next year I'll have much better results, especially if I'm able to track down that seed meal.
     
  7. April S

    April S Member

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    So Infinidox, you have lots to look forward to! I too have shied away from the super-intensity of square-foot gardening. Mostly I go on instinct, but I am wanting to experiment a little more and to get more systematic.

    April
     
  8. Freyja

    Freyja Active Member

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    I have purchased alfalfa meal and alfalfa pellets from Westway Feed & Seed (in Delta, along Ladner Trunk Road) -- both were roughly $11 for a 20kg (44lb) bag. They also sell soy bean meal but I haven't bought any. I think it was a couple dollars more for the SBM for the same size bag. There are several other feed stores in the Delta/Cloverdale/Langley area that would probably sell other types of seedmeal too.
     
  9. K Baron

    K Baron Well-Known Member

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    Hi Stew,

    Not to worry, build up your beds with a mulch/manure mixed with loam...in other words add to your clay belt... Rona had tons of Lime last week... phone first for the right location...I would not be planting anything now, except garlic, scallion and kale... and leeks...or even chives... cheers from Port Moody!
     

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