Tapla - 5-1-1 in raised bed - what mineral to add?

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Tapla,

I have about 4/5ths of my raised bed filled with the 5-1-1 mixture, with about 1/3 of it left over from last year.

GymGirl told me you mentioned to her that you regretted not adding (or adding enough?) of some mineral to your raised bed soil.

What mineral were you thinking you should have added? Sand? Chicken grit? What should I add before I start planting my seedlings? Or should I go with what I got?

Also, should I really add a bunch of the 1/2 - 1" pieces of the pine bark fines back into the bed??? I had sifted them out.

Thank you,
Gilraen

Bay City, MI(Zone 6a)

My raised bed soil (picture below) is very productive. It holds water & air well, and is full of soil life, but there was a LOT of shrinkage in the first years because it was mostly organic components. You can see some sand & Turface in it, but I think I'd be sure to try to have at least 75% mineral (inorganic) content that won't break down. For you, that might be fine sand, or even some/one of the Turface products that is finer than Allsport/MVP. Over the years, I increased the mineral content by adding the fines left over after screening Turface Allsport/MVP for the gritty mix. Topsoil would work just fine, if it's decent.

I mulch my raised beds every year with pine bark. I don't till/trowel it in - the soil life just seems to break it down slowly. That's what I would do with the larger pieces after you have your plantings established.

Watch out for some N immobilization the first year (with that high a % of organic components). You'll probably need to water a little extra, and use a high N fertilizer, but after the first year you won;t need to watch so carefully. Keep an eye on leaf color, & when things start looking a little chlorotic, it's probably time to fertilize.

Happy Valentine's Day, J. ;o)

Al

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