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A garden is only as good as the ground that it's planted in. Discussion forum for the many ways to improve the soil where we plant our gardens.

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Old February 23, 2016   #1
My Foot Smells
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Default Soil ?

About 5 years ago I made some raise beds (20" high) and filled with a "super soil" mix of 30% sand/silt & 70% compost. Every other year I have topped them off with the same mix, as I have a supplier that I get the stuff pretty cheap. This maybe a "rookie move," as I now am seeing a lot of the sand silt - but haven't tilled or anything.

The soil has lots of life and have no problem growing anything. The loose composition helps drain. Previously I used a top soil mix with bad results (thus the move to the super soil), as we get a heavy wet spring and things became too damp for too long - producing lots of disease - esp. w/ tomatoes.

It is that time again to do a light "topping." Thinking about mixing it up, but then again, the super soil has been a great performer and can just add another layer.

Has anybody here ever just gone with the supersoil? It does breakdown some, but drains well. I live on about 2 acres of heavy clay in the river valley where water can pool - thus the raised beds.

Figure it would be a good time to ask before I add, LOL. TIA
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Old February 23, 2016   #2
Worth1
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If you are happy and it is working why mess with it.
My beds have decomposed granite mixed in them.
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Old February 23, 2016   #3
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If you are happy and it is working why mess with it.
My beds have decomposed granite mixed in them.
Worth
True. But you always think "something" could be better. I do compost in small batches and add periodically (couple of tumblers). The sand is a river silt.

IDNK that granite decomposed, but guess there are a lot of fillers to create air space. Did you just put a headstone in a paper shredder?
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Old February 23, 2016   #4
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True. But you always think "something" could be better. I do compost in small batches and add periodically (couple of tumblers). The sand is a river silt.

IDNK that granite decomposed, but guess there are a lot of fillers to create air space. Did you just put a headstone in a paper shredder?

We have granite quarries here and it is the sawdust so to speak from sawing the slabs.
It is loaded with minerals.
They sell it in the nurseries for a crazy high price in little bags.
I buy it from the landscape stone people for around $32 a cubic yard.

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Old February 23, 2016   #5
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That's awesome. Have a friend who pays an arm & leg for azomite, but swears by results.
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Old February 23, 2016   #6
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It's that way here with Limestone. My next door neighbor who works at a quarry comes home from work white as a ghost because he's covered in Limestone dust.
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Old February 23, 2016   #7
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the organic material breaks down but the sand stays. Maybe add just compost?

that being said its hard to argue with good results.

I used mels mix which is 1/3 peat 1/3 vermiculite 1/3 compost. His instructions are to add compost only going forward. Very happy with results
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Old February 23, 2016   #8
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That's what I was thinking, tightenup; as we are only talking about a 4" layer. Maybe till it in on top to mix it up a bit. always scared of straight compost coming in too hot, but the years show more sand in the mix, like grey hairs on the head. Don't see how that would screw things up too much...... thx
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Old February 23, 2016   #9
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You will be fine adding more compost and mixing.
Just remember it is a wives tail that compost is fertilizer it isn't, it is a soil builder.
Also compost is a generic term for anything broken down.
If it is wood and leaves you are going to have almost zilch nitrogen.

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Old February 23, 2016   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Worth1 View Post
You will be fine adding more compost and mixing.
Just remember it is a wives tail that compost is fertilizer it isn't, it is a soil builder.
Also compost is a generic term for anything broken down.
If it is wood and leaves you are going to have almost zilch nitrogen.

Worth
AMEN, Worth!
I can't tell you home many people I consult with think the opposite.

MFS, if you wanna geek out a tad, and layering on top has worked for you over time, I'd keep doing that. Reason is, you are gonna destroy the soil food web that has been building in this existing bed all these years. Plus the second you till/turn/ dig into it, you introduce oxygen. This burns up any organic matter that is still in there.
Just something to consider.
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Old February 23, 2016   #11
PureHarvest
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Also, do you fertilize at all at any point?
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Old February 23, 2016   #12
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Also, do you fertilize at all at any point?
Yes, tomato tone several applications.

If no nitrogen, what is best way to boost. Meant to do a cover crop, but did not.
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Old February 23, 2016   #13
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Yes, tomato tone several applications.

If no nitrogen, what is best way to boost. Meant to do a cover crop, but did not.
Here I go again with my speech but I will continue to do so.
Switch from tomato tone to Plant tone 5-3-3.
Shallowly mix this with the soil and spray with an organic liquid fertilizer of around the same ratio.
Just about every one that has done the low nitrogen high p or k has came back after years of doing this with a low Nitrogen and an almost too high of the other.
By pumping K you wont get anymore blooms you need them all to grow and starving them of nitrogen wont get it.
This comes from people using straight nitrogen and no P or K in the soil.
Worth
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Old February 23, 2016   #14
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I'll give plant tone a try, not greatly impressed w tt. Definitely want healthy plants above all, which has not been a problem. Have a bee hive that helps w pollination. Trying to k.I.s.s. it, simple recipes are usually the best.
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Old February 23, 2016   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Worth1 View Post
Here I go again with my speech but I will continue to do so.
Switch from tomato tone to Plant tone 5-3-3.
Shallowly mix this with the soil and spray with an organic liquid fertilizer of around the same ratio.
Just about every one that has done the low nitrogen high p or k has came back after years of doing this with a low Nitrogen and an almost too high of the other.
By pumping K you wont get anymore blooms you need them all to grow and starving them of nitrogen wont get it.
This comes from people using straight nitrogen and no P or K in the soil.
Worth
What he said.
Worth should work at my parent's garden center.
It was always hard to steer people away from the tomato tone. Confused the heck out of them when I rec'd plant tone, or tree tone (the highest N of all the tones) when they were buying tomato plants.
Still tell my dad he should be stocking small bags of calcium nitrate to go with the small bags of Epsom he already carries.
Anyway, an interesting view into the mind of he consumer. Packaging and marketing gives that sense of trust over someone who's been there and done it.
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