Raised garden - what kind of soil needed?
I'm putting in a raised vegetable garden this year and I'll need about 2 or 3 yards of soil to fill it. I'll have to order soil from a local garden center. What kind of soil should I look for, plain topsoil or should I look for something different?
I like to use mainly compost, with a smaller amount of peat moss and maybe a little sand or regular soil mixed in. Some people follow the Mel's mix recipe and add vermiculite. I used to include it too, but its just too expensive for me to keep using it, and it's really not necessary. The quantity of peat and topsoil I add is based on the soil structure. When I can squeeze a wet clump of it in my hand, then poke the resulting ball with my finger and have in crumble apart, I've attained the consistency I'm looking for. The most important thing though is the compost. Make it your primary ingredient and make sure it's good, finished compost, preferably made from a wide variety of ingredients. Try to get a soil analysis from the supplier to see what the NPK and micro-nutrient values of the compost are. Depending on the mineral content, you may want to add rock dust either at the time of construction or every few years. I personally haven't used rock dust before, but some people swear by it. I use lots of worm castings in my garden beds, and the way I see it, the castings contain all the minerals from the stuff I fed to the worms.
I keep the soil in my raised bed gardens very light. I think it is good for the plants to easily root without having to bust throuh hard packed soil. I use a mix of dirt, compost (alpaca poo mostly), and cinders. Before I plant I cover with shade cloth and let bake/simmer for a month before planting.
You don't have to do what I do, I'm just describing my methods.
I've been successfully using 100% compost from the twp composting facility for 10 or so years. Its working well for me!