We built six raised beds as our starting point for growing vegetables next spring. Each bed is 4′ x 12′ and 8 inches tall. The math works out to about 32 cubit feet of soil per bed, with a cubic yard being 27 cubic feet, we need over 7 cubic yards of fill material.
I wanted to get a good head start on organic material as increasing soil organic matter over time can take years, but I did not want to put all my eggs in one dirt basket, so I went with two different compost options, one a commercial blend and the other a municipal yard waste blend. We used the municipal blend here at the Children’s Educational Garden at the fairgrounds and while it is a dynamite additive to soil, when I planted into it straight away, some plants did not look happy, showing a symptom called chlorosis, or yellowing of the leaves. That means the product needs something done to it to smooth out any rough edges. That is my main concern, making sure I correct any needed deficiencies before planting season.
The first was the compost created at Athens-Hocking Recycling Center. Sam and I wanted to purchase from them as they have been so gracious with donations of mulch for this project as well as the What a Waste Project. This material is made from food scraps they collect regionally from homes and businesses that keeps this waste from a landfill and turns it into a salable product by mixing it with wood mulch, turning it, then shredding it down.
Here is a close up of the finished product, some cover crop seeds are visible:
You know me, I have to soil test it:
Pretty impressive numbers. High organic content, lots of nutrients. You can still see some wood pieces as well as some egg shells if you look close. It is an excellent soil amendment The problem with using it straight is the alkaline pH of 7.7 can cause some problems with certain nutrients being available right away. The soil test states to add sulfur to combat that.
Next up is municipal yard waste from the City of Logan. They very graciously donated to this project and Sam and I are grateful. They take collected yard waste and pile it up and it sits there for years, slowly breaking down. Here is a close up:
Not bad looking stuff, still some bits and pieces. The soil test results:
Very similar numbers noted here. High organic matter, lots of nutrients, same alkaline pH. I did the same with both. Added ammonium sulfate fertilizer then sowed cover crop seed.
Ammonium sulfate has both sulfur, to correct the pH and some nitrogen to help both the cover crops grow and help the soil bacteria break down the residual carbon bits. My hope is that the fertilizer, the cover crops and the winter will combine to help both of these growing media get to a good point for vegetables by April.
Sam and I want to say THANKS!!!! to the City of Logan for generously donating a huge dump truck of compost that we will be able to use to grow vegetables for years.