raised bed "components?

mitch landen

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I'm doing a small raised bed (for the 1st time) this spring; I've filled the huge "bowl" with store-bought potting soil, "mulch" -- which I think is only ground-up limbs -- and so-forth. I'm considering planting a few tomatoes in this. But now, I'm thinking I don't really want "natural" soil from my veg garden placed into the bowl -- my tomato harvests in my standard veg garden have gone down lots over the years (despite some rotation; it's a small, 1200 sq ft plot). Part from nutrient depletion, part from wilt, nematodes, etc. I've had issues with blossom-end rot, despite adding several calcium sources, so I think we"re talking pH inadequacies.

SO .... what to do? I don't wanna add nematodes into the bed, don't want wilt viruses introduced, etc, and I doubt the "soil" I'm using will be best insofar as texture, nutrients, pH, etc for the plant roots and nutrient uptake. On the other hand, a normal soil flora could be a good thing -- and something potting soil wouldn't sport.

Any suggestions, anecdotes, warnings, etc would be appreciated!

Mitch
 

digitS'

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My compost has a fair amount of soil in it. There is not as much as in years past when probably 50% was made in a "bin" at a garden where the property has been sold and I'm no longer in the backyard, side yard, and across the driveway ;). The policy at the big veggie garden is to leave it as bare ground for the winter - not my property. So, I have to deal with all the composting here at home and there just isn't all that much room to shovel on the soil.

Be that as it may, I steadily increased the percentage of compost in my potted tomatoes over several years until it was 100%. The more compost that I put in those big pots, the better the tomatoes grew and produced. I even add more compost thru the growing season to "top up" the pot as the content settles and decays further. A simple compost of plant wastes for the most part - no fertilizer added.

Anyway, the bagged material that I have seen hardly rates what I would call compost. There is so much wood in it! The neighbor had a couple of new raised beds filled with "garden soil and compost," in 2020. I realize that products differ but she had very minimal growth and production from her tomatoes especially.

Steve
 

heirloomgal

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But now, I'm thinking I don't really want "natural" soil from my veg garden placed into the bowl -- my tomato harvests in my standard veg garden have gone down lots over the years (despite some rotation; it's a small, 1200 sq ft plot). Part from nutrient depletion, part from wilt, nematodes, etc. I've had issues with blossom-end rot, despite adding several calcium sources, so I think we"re talking pH inadequacies.
I can'r speak much to the wilt or nematodes as I don't have those issues in my northern climate, but tomatoes are depleting to soil nutrients in my garden too. I've grown about 150 tomatoes in my (smallish) garden every year for several years and the production started to decrease as well. But I've found a really excellent way to respond to that - granulated chicken manure and a fertilising liquid made with worm castings (which you mix with water), I think the one I tried was called annelid cycle. This was a miracle formula for boosting production back to normal, or higher. In terms of BER, it actually isn't a calcium or pH issue, though it is commonly thought to be. It's a lack of calcium delivery due to uneven water delivery to the plant, not a lack of calcium in and of itself. I was growing lots of tomatoes at one point so I did quite a bit of research and experimentation in regards to this. The brown spot is the plant sacrificing older cells (hence the end of the tomato) to the save the newer cells experiencing feast and famine water levels. However, the other significant factor with BER is variety; all tomatoes can get it, but paste types tend to suffer the worst because of the longer shape, and being bred to have lower moisture content already. Any elongated type is more prone to it. Hot, dry conditions, packed soil and any other factors that might cause water delivery to the plant to fluctuate considerably create conditions for BER to occur. The good news is that a BER problem won't transfer in your soil in that way. If it is a packed soil issue, one of the solutions to that is mix in an aerating component, like straw. After incorporating many bales over the years, my soil never packs. It's created a texture that holds water well and deeply.
 

mitch landen

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I can'r speak much to the wilt or nematodes as I don't have those issues in my northern climate, but tomatoes are depleting to soil nutrients in my garden too. I've grown about 150 tomatoes in my (smallish) garden every year for several years and the production started to decrease as well. But I've found a really excellent way to respond to that - granulated chicken manure and a fertilising liquid made with worm castings (which you mix with water), I think the one I tried was called annelid cycle. This was a miracle formula for boosting production back to normal, or higher. In terms of BER, it actually isn't a calcium or pH issue, though it is commonly thought to be. It's a lack of calcium delivery due to uneven water delivery to the plant, not a lack of calcium in and of itself. I was growing lots of tomatoes at one point so I did quite a bit of research and experimentation in regards to this. The brown spot is the plant sacrificing older cells (hence the end of the tomato) to the save the newer cells experiencing feast and famine water levels. However, the other significant factor with BER is variety; all tomatoes can get it, but paste types tend to suffer the worst because of the longer shape, and being bred to have lower moisture content already. Any elongated type is more prone to it. Hot, dry conditions, packed soil and any other factors that might cause water delivery to the plant to fluctuate considerably create conditions for BER to occur. The good news is that a BER problem won't transfer in your soil in that way. If it is a packed soil issue, one of the solutions to that is mix in an aerating component, like straw. After incorporating many bales over the years, my soil never packs. It's created a texture that holds water well and deeply.
Thx much -- I've heard of the water-uptake issue but thought it was just another facet of "the syndrome" of poor performance by the tomatoes. I'll check into the fertilizers you cited. That said, I understand that here, nematodes are a big problem, and I lose plants every year to wilt (late and/or early varieties) no matter what. It's always something ...
 

ninnymary

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My compost has a fair amount of soil in it. There is not as much as in years past when probably 50% was made in a "bin" at a garden where the property has been sold and I'm no longer in the backyard, side yard, and across the driveway ;). The policy at the big veggie garden is to leave it as bare ground for the winter - not my property. So, I have to deal with all the composting here at home and there just isn't all that much room to shovel on the soil.

Be that as it may, I steadily increased the percentage of compost in my potted tomatoes over several years until it was 100%. The more compost that I put in those big pots, the better the tomatoes grew and produced. I even add more compost thru the growing season to "top up" the pot as the content settles and decays further. A simple compost of plant wastes for the most part - no fertilizer added.

Anyway, the bagged material that I have seen hardly rates what I would call compost. There is so much wood in it! The neighbor had a couple of new raised beds filled with "garden soil and compost," in 2020. I realize that products differ but she had very minimal growth and production from her tomatoes especially.

Steve
What size pots do you use to grow tomatoes in?

Mary
 
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