Shifting Sands

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Should I use sand in my raised bed soil preparation?

Shifting Sands

Heavy soil is better, right? You prefer a heavy down comforter packed full of feathers. Heavy on the mustard. But heavy on the soil? Forget it. Heavy, crammed-together soil compacts more easily and doesn't work for planting. When deciding how to plant a garden, you start with the soil, and healthy aerated soil is one of the advantages of raised bed planting.

There are many excellent soils that are a mix of silicia, sand, loam, and topsoil. If you can't find one of these for your soil preparation, mix your own when gardening raised beds. You need a mixture of 3 parts garden soil, 3 parts organic matter, and 1 part sand or perlite. The full list of ingredients includes:

  • Washed sand such as coarse river sand
  • Loamy soil
  • Limestone with the right pH balance
  • Organic material for compost--bark, peat moss, leaves
  • Nitrogen to make the compost break down faster

Layer the soil together with the compost ("Gardener's Black Gold") in another raised bin. Some soil amenders and compost materials require that you keep the mixture on hand for several weeks or even months.

Learning how to garden with this loose soil mixture is not a heavy responsibility and doesn't take heavy reflection--just some careful planning and soil preparation. After all, you need to lighten up sometime.

   

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