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Best soil for new box garden

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#1 gary


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Posted 24 April 2016 - 02:48 PM

I just converted a firewood storage rack into a 2x16-foot box for a garden, just under 2 feet tall. We hope to grow veggies in it and wonder whether we should just fill it with finished compost or mix the compost with other substances. How should we start this garden's soil?

#2 Janet Macunovich

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Posted 25 April 2016 - 02:31 PM

You can grow vegetables in compost-alone, if it's finished compost with detectable mineral content (soil, enough to feel the grit; this soil might have come from bits of sod you've composted, or soil you've added to break up and activate thick leaf layers).  Without mineral content the plants may lack for micronutrients and drainage may be slow.


Trouble with growing in compost alone, even the gritty well drained stuff, is that even finished compost keeps breaking down and settlin. So even if you fill and tamp the box at the beginning of the growing season the level may drop by late summer and the crowns of the plants may descend into poorly ventilated area prime for mildew development. We've frequently used a mixture of compost and screened (rock free) topsoil for flower and vegetable gardens, about half-anf-half. It settles, too, but not so quickly as compost alone. If you're growing an annually-replanted crop of flowers or vegetables, it'll work but for shrubs, trees and perennials (including perennial edibles like asparagus and rhubarb) you can expect to have to lift and replant down the road.

#3 Janet Macunovich

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Posted 30 April 2016 - 08:53 AM

Member Robin Macson recommends this article on soil for a raised planter:



(Robin we cannot allow copying of information from other sources without credit. And in the case of what you posted and we replaced with this note, if it's worthwhile to wholesale copy an article we think it is far better to direct readers to that other source. The reader will then be able to say "Ah, this info comes from a person who raises goats and makes her own compost, that counts for something." Also, if the original author chooses to revise an article, or links change, the gardener you've helped with your referral will have the benefit of that update. Credit, and reproduction only as quotes, is also the only fair thing when it comes to the author, who should have credit. Steven and I may make it look easy or maybe we are setting a bad example by making our website free, but there are hours and hours of work and investment including money behind every article. The source you referenced has advertisements on her site, and deserves the income any click-throughs from those ads may bring.)

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