We've built a garden in our driveway. No, this is not a newly discovered Peter, Paul and Mary b-side, but a project where we're growing vegetables in a spot that was basically wasted space. (You can read our thinking on this here.)
Last time we walked through how to build the raised garden boxes. This time, we're dishing celebrity dirt.
*Note, we just used that term to improve our Google Search rank. ;) Our celebrity dirt is Peat Moss and composted Sheep Manure. If you got here looking for Kardashian or Rhianna/Chris Brown gossip, our apologies, but please take a moment to ask yourself what your life has come to and maybe consider starting a vegetable garden of your own.
Want more Dirt (or what to put in your raised bed vegetable garden)? Read on!
Our initial plan was to just get some top soil or triple mix. Then, Robin did some digging (puns = awesome) and found that triple-mix can mean almost anything, depending on who's selling it. And, according to Mel Bartholomew (the guru of Square Foot Gardening), topsoil wasn't really the best for container gardening anyways.
Most learned square foot gardening folks felt that if you were starting your garden from scratch, the best soil was the kind you made yourself (and strangely enough, actually contains no soil). This will make a high nutrient, weed free medium for growing.
The recipe we settled on (amounts are per 4'x4'x1' box):
- 1.5 bales of Peat moss
- 7-8 bags of composted sheep manure **
** If we had a time machine, we'd go back and buy a few different varieties of compost, vs. just sheep poop. Of course, after we were all done with this step, Robin did some more reading and learned there are benefits to variety. Our beds are done - but there's still hope for yours!
Our plan going forward is to augment with composted faeces from different species every spring.
1. The first time we Split and open the Peat Moss. It was very dusty, so gradually break it up with a garden fork or small spade. But then, we got a great tip from Margo in our comments!
|Thanks for the fabulous tip, Margo!|
2. Add bags of composted manure, one at a time, mixing as you add. Again, dust is a factor so mix slowly till poop weighs the peat down. Work carefully to make sure you don't tear the landscape fabric lining in your bed as well.
3. Water the newly mixed soil with a gentle spray. Peat expands a bit when unbaled and dampened. Giving your new soil a soak will allow you to see if you added enough, or you need to top it up a bit. (It also gave us a chance to test our lining and see if any soil escaped through the landscape fabric in the bottom of the boxes - it didn't!)
And that's it. Not rocket science, once you have the mixture down.
Final Price Talley for 1 box:
- 1.5 bales of peat moss = $12
- 7 bags of composted manure = $21
- Total Cost = $33/ box
When you add the cost of building the raised bed boxes ($50.56) - we are at $83.56 per box.
Yes, these beds are costing us a lot this year, but now they are done and every subsequent garden we plant will amortize that cost more and more.
And if you have ever weeded a really bad garden and wondered what it would be like to start with weed-free, perfect soil, you can now have that dream come true. A small price to pay, when you put it in those terms.
Manure is pretty good stuff - it's got the word "ma" which is good - and the word "newer" which is also good...
Can you name the character we borrowed (and misquoted) that line from?
Keep reading here for more of