Many thanks for joining in the discussion on Workshop. We're really pleased to have you join the community. Are you planning on building your own raised garden beds?
Let me tag @hoppi65 so they are alerted to your question about the soil mix and keeping pests at bay. I will also tag some of our helpful resident horticulturalists who also might like to give you some tips as they are often very generous in sharing their time and expertise with others - @Noelle and @Adam_W.
We look forward to reading more about your projects and plans very soon. Please feel free to post anytime you need a hand.
Crops are looking awesome @hoppi65
Just a little input if I may...
- When you're starting from scratch with raised-beds & you're using treated pine make sure you do not use CCA treated pine. It is technically illegal to use in a situation where food is grown or contact with the timber is likely. Reason for this is the risk of exposure to the preservative ingredients, mainly arsenic (CCA = copper chrome arsenic). Risk is low but it is real. Instead use ACQ or micronised iron (sold as MicroShades) treated timber.
- Soil mix for bigger raised-beds - unless access is difficult & you need to bring it in bagged look to get it in bulk from a local landscape supplier. Chances are they’ll have a suitable mix, possibly even organic, just tell them what you need it for. Personally I like to get them to add extra coarse (sharp) washed sand to the mix.
A lot of mixes these days contain too much organic matter which is good and bad. The bad is that it breaks down and your soil levels drop too quickly meaning every season you’re topping your beds up.
- Keeping the pests at bay is a two-stage process – first thing is vigilance. Check your beds daily for any pests and treat them as soon as they’re seen.
Second is how you treat them. Physically removing pests is always the best option but if you have to treat them use organic-type products that have short withholding periods . Withholding period is the recommended time between treatment and harvest and is a good indicator of toxicity.
- Keep them well feed. Healthy plants can in-fact ward-off many pests and diseases. They will also, if grown well, have a higher nutritional density. You know all that flavour you find in home-grown? A large part of that is because of the higher nutritional density of the harvest.
- Plant for rolling harvests. You are quite right in saying it's excessive when everything comes ripe and ready at once. Best thing to do is plant what are often called succession crops. Simple as every week or two weeks plant more of the same plant to extend your harvest.
Anyhews… just a few titbits for you to consider. Hope this is of some help!
And if anyone’s looking at building a raised-bed here are a few videos I’ve made on the topic;
Hi Adam. Thx for that.
I have quite a few raised beds. No veggies just shrubs and flowers.
I still struggle with the soil though. We get very little rain. I have completely changed the soil in the beds twice. The first time I realised I was delivered sand + grit. It was awful! Got rid of that and dodged that supplier, and asked another supplier for soil to grow flowers in. It looked great when it arrived. After 6 months or so I realised they had sold me chocolate sand! No clay. I find it very hard to keep the soil moist except by every day watering. The flowers grow because I have layered on lots of compost/manure, but now the beds are full to the brim and I can't add more manure. I get no worms. If I dug it all up and began again, I would not order more soil, but use layers of compost and a couple of different manures topped with mushroom compost and let it settle for a while, but..... I really don't want to dig it up again. Any ideas? Thx
Hi @Oopsee best thing to do is just to 'build' the soil. The fact that you have no earthworms says a lot, basically the soil is lacking in biological activity and organic matter both of which are essential for plant growth.
If I was trying to bring these beds to life I'd be forking through some quality home-brewed compost or good quality bagged compost. I'd also be adding some well-composted manure or mushroom compost. Then I'd mulch it really heavily with lucurne or pea-straw. They are both fast breakdown products that add lots of organic matter to the soil. I wouldn't plant into it while doing this. Just let it do its own thing, lie fallow as the farmers would say.
You can then 'inoculate' the soil with some beneficial bacteria by adding vermipost or worm-tea if you have access to them otherwise look at using something like GoGo Juice as this will really get the soil cranking.
Then just keep it all moist, not wet (aim to not let it dry out totally) and in six-months time the soil will be awesome.
Thx again Adam. Is this what I should add first https://www.bunnings.com.au/pinegro-50l-compost-and-soil-improver_p0056003
or would I be more likely to benefit from another product in order to get the soil improvement done faster? (I would still add the mushroom compost and pea straw as you suggested). Thx
Oh, and thx for the videos earlier. They were excellent!
Hi, I have found foot by foot gardening works well in planting so you don't have a crop excess, great for crop rotation and you can prepare the soil for the specific plant type.
Good stuff @April1, many thanks for joining in the discussion and sharing your experience. It sounds like you have a lot of knowledge to share with the community so we are looking forward to reading more of your posts soon. Feel free to post about your projects and plans anytime.
Welcome to Workshop, and please let me know if you ever need a hand getting the most from the site.