Soil Mix for Raised Beds

I like to use a mix of 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite and 1/3 manure or compost. When I mix up a big batch of soil for the raised beds, I use a large block of peat (107 litres or 3.8 cubic feet), a large bag of #2 expanded vermiculite (118 litres or 4 cubic feet) and four bags of manure (4×10 kg or 22 lbs). The manure or compost should be a mix of different types: steer, sheep, mushroom, worm castings, or whatever you can get your hands on. The more variety the better.

I use a large tarp spread across my lawn and a rake to mix with. Start with the peat moss, spreading it out and getting rid of all the clumps. If you value your ability to breathe then be sure to keep the peat moss moist while working with it. Next, add the vermiculite again making sure to keep the dust to a minimum. Mix them together and add the manure. The pile is getting fairly large at this point and to get a thorough blend you will need to lift the tarp from side to side to mix the ingredients.

Once the soil has been well mixed it’s ready to use.

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Sifting Your Compost

No matter how hard you try, you’ll never find that everything in your composter is ready to use at the same time.

When my composter is ready to be unloaded, I place it all in a rubbermaid container and let it dry for several days. I then sift it to make a nice consistent compost that is ready to go on the garden.

Sifting is important to get out the big chunks of material that have perhaps not fully composted yet. Putting non-composted material on your garden is not wise, as it will continue to break down in your beds and may create excess nitrogen. In addition, you don’t want to attract insects and other critters directly to your garden – or in my case my dog. I’ve actually seen her pick out bits of rotten banana peel as if they are a delightful treat I put in the¬†compost especially for her.

I use a combination of a cardboard box (the one you get from the garden centre when you buy bedding plants) and a plastic bedding plant tray with 3/8 inch holes. They fit together perfectly and by shaking the combination I get just the right size material in the bottom cardboard tray. The remaining material goes in the composter for more work.

The result is a nice fine compost that is ready to be used and full of nutrition.

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