what soil to buy?


Old 09-29-16, 11:32 AM
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what soil to buy?

Hello, I am building three backyard raised beds, 4'x7' each, for growing some vegetables and herbs, and also planting echiums and different Ceanothuses (California lilac) in front of the house. The soil is very hard: partly because of the drought, but mostly because it's what looks like clay. When digging holes for plants I had to use a crowbar. With a crowbar, the soil breaks into big chunks and barely soaks any water. Please see the pictures:

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Was wondering about the type of this soil, is it anything close to sandy loam? Can I improve this soil by breaking it and adding a good fraction of compost, or potting soil, or potting mix? Or should I just remove the current soil and fill the beds and holes with potting soil from the landscaping yard?

Would appreciate any comment or reference. Best wishes, h.
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Old 09-29-16, 11:41 AM
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You would have to add a lot of organic material to make that good growing soil, so it might be simpler to buy all the soil you use for planting.

Sandy loam? I don't think so, seems more like clay.
Old 09-29-16, 12:14 PM
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Thanks Stickshift! Would what's called "top soil" or "sandy loam" be acceptable for raised beds or should I use richer "potting mix", or "potting soil", or "nursery mix", maybe after adding some sand?
Old 09-29-16, 12:27 PM
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I'm not that familiar with sandy loam, potting soil would be too expensive. I'd opt for a truck load of top soil. My garden has poor soil, while I have tilled in top soil and manure I usually add potting soil to the plants when I dig the hole.

If you don't want to bring in a truck load of top soil, I'd till the garden well, remove any hard clumps that won't pulverize and then just add potting soil to the individual plants as you put them in.
Old 09-29-16, 12:30 PM
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Buy topsoil for your front bed and raised bed garden. Potting soil/mix is almost completely organic matter and you want something more long term and stable. Good, real topsoil is hard to find/buy so you may end up getting something a nursery blends together and sells as topsoil. So you may be able to shop around and find a blend you prefer.
Old 09-29-16, 12:32 PM
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I don't see sand benefiting you, it just allows water to drain. All the rest are pretty much undefined, so you'd want to look at them and judge for yourself.

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