Soil composition for raised beds

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Old 05-07-13, 05:36 AM
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Soil composition for raised beds

OK. So I'm doing my best to keep you updated on the progress on my new beds. I installed the soil last weekend in the beds and it came from a good source / Mixed. Combination of a very good loam, sand and compost ( leaves, grass, etc. ) It was 50% compost, 30% loam and 20% sand. A soil scientist who consults for NY arboretums said this is the formula they use. Yeah, he probably has a bridge to sell me also. Any way, it's what I have and if it's not optimal, I'll have to change it over time. So here's my question. I tested the above mentioned soil for PH, Nitrogen, Phos, and Potassium. PH= 7.5 / 8.0, Nitrogen = Low, Phosphorus = medium, Potassium = medium low to low. I used a LaMotte soil test kit that I had. Do these levels sound abnormal for this soil composition or is this typical ? What should I add at this point before setting out the transplants ? All vegetables and berries. Thanks so much. You folks have been great. Photos to follow as I continue to progress. I'm finishing up the irrigation now.
 
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Old 05-07-13, 06:32 AM
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I would water once a week with fish emulsion. Some have added kelp. This is all I use in my garden...I use either but like the added kelp.

There are other brands out there but I like the cold processed stuff.


Neptune's Harvest Organic Fish Fertilizer
 
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Old 05-07-13, 07:01 AM
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One drawback to so much compost is the low nitrogen so like Lawrosa mentions a mild fertilizing at regular intervals will help. Luckily your ph came out to almost neutral. You can tweak it if you want for specific plants but your in a range where most anything can work.

Another drawback is as the compost continues to break down you may notice the soil level in your garden going down. I have a similar blend in my raised bed gardens and have to top them off every season. Knowing that it was coming I was able to get good topsoil ready for the topping off which we mix with additional compost.
 
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Old 05-07-13, 02:17 PM
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I'm surprised that the nitrogen level is so low. Any chance the compost that you got is very old? I remember reading an article on composting that said the nitrogen content decreases significantly as the material ages.

You may have to add nitrogen this year. I used to use soybean meal (before I downsized) each spring when I turned my garden. Its a good, cheap source of nitrogen. Don't buy it at a garden store. I used to buy 50# sacks at a feed store for just a couple of dollars.
 
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Old 05-07-13, 05:06 PM
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Hey, first and foremost, thanks so much for all your input ! It's a very fine compost, not chunky at all and at most a season old. I will say that the LaMotte soil test kit is very difficult to gauge when it comes to the nitrogen. It could have been more medium to medium high. I just didn't know what to expect nitrogen wise with this much compost. Any suggestions on a better and easier test kit ? I was thinking of using a fertigation system, EZ flow. It constantly fertilizes every watering cycle but at extremely low doses so one gallon of fish emulsion can take up to 6 weeks to fully dispense. It depends on the setting you use. Any draw backs or thoughts on this ?
 
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Old 05-07-13, 05:31 PM
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Oh,... One other thing. Here in southern NY, do you think it would be a bad Idea to transplant my blackberry and raspberry plants into two of the new raised beds now? I'd love to move them into full sun and take advantage of the season and not have to wait until fall. How do you think it will affect them ? The voles got to the roots last year and did some damage but the buggers bounced back great! They are doing fantastic already.
 
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Old 05-07-13, 08:21 PM
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I have about 20 raspberry canes left. One thing I have learned from 20 years of growing raspberries - they don't need much help. I probably spend more time trying to keep them from spreading throughout the garden than anything else.
If they didn't produce such great fruit they woiuld probably be considered a noxious weed.

IMO its very easy to overthink and over complicate gardening. Watch how your plants perform and adjust your fertilizer as needed. After spring planting I spend more time fighting weeds and insects than I do feeding plants.
 
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