Raised Bed Soil

by Charles Morel
(Madison Heights, Va )

Question:


Brad:

I just started a raised bed. They are 4x8; one 10 inch and the other 8 inches. I put some top soil and compost that I had from last year and black cow. Kind of mixed it up. Problem is that the tomatoes plants just don't seem to be taking off. I have already put Miracle-grow on them with a hose end sprayed one time. I am starting to see some flowering.

The plants on an average are about 10-12 inches. We have had some cool nights here in Va. and twice I had to cover them from frost. I just thought I would be seeing a darker green on them and a little healthier.

Any suggestions? This is my third year gardening... first year for these raised beds.

Thanks,
Chuck Morel


Answer:

Hi Chuck,
I'm glad you're giving raised bed gardening a "go"!! I think you'll like it.

I think I should start off saying this: The size of your tomato plants doesn't seem too bad for this time of year.

I've had mind in my raised bed for about two weeks, and they are probably around 12" tall. We've also had some cool nights and I'm sure that has slowed their growth down some.

But if I were you, at this point, I wouldn't worry too much about the size. Sounds pretty normal.

Using the Miracle Grow water soluble fertilizer won't hurt either. Just make sure you follow the manufacturers usage suggestions.

Probably one thing you can check on is... drainage. Does the raised bed seem to be draining well. It most likely is, but without
knowing the condition of the soil mixture you made, it's hard to guess if it is a well-draining mix.

A great mixture I've learned of for raised beds is from Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening method.

The mixture calls for 1/3 peat, 1/3 vermiculite and 1/3 home made compost. It makes for a very light and well-draining soil. Great for raised beds.

All in all, I would bet your mix will be fine and your plants will be fine. If no pests or fungicides have been noted, just be patient, and once the hot weather rolls in to stay... they'll start shooting up.

All the best,
Brad




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