Photo by Melody

High Yield Gardening: Brand New raised bed.. whare did i go wrong?

Communities > Forums > High Yield Gardening
Forum: High Yield GardeningReplies: 22, Views: 512
Add to Bookmarks
Sebastian, FL

January 25, 2009
1:56 AM

Post #6047068

Ok, in November my local garden shop was selling crook neck squash,lettice, broccli, big boy tomatoes, green bell peppers and artichokes. Yeah, does anyone really grow those things? Just seems so odd i had to have one. So i picked a good sunny spot in my yard and had my hubby build me a box well more like a triangle 8x6 about 24'' high just enough to call myself a gardener. I filled that bad boy up with the best organic "perfect for new veggi gardens" soil so the bag said' that my local home depot had to offer. I mixed in perilite and planted my newly aquired plants and have taken grate care in watering by hand daily.

Heres the question... Why wont anything grow? The squash burned out fast ,bloomed every day all blooms fell off and that portion of the plant would die. but nothing else in the garden will grow not one inch!

New York & Terrell, TX
(Zone 8b)

January 25, 2009
5:23 AM

Post #6047783

Well, veggiestarr! You're supposed to mix the stuff along with and into your Current garden soil to improve it. If you read the words on the back of the bag that says "Not suitable for Containers" it really means That.

The potent MG soil is meant to amend your poor, untreated, zonked out undernourished, over used clay laden soil!

You were not told that you should've mixed it with "Top Soil" when using it for Any Container Gardening.

It has thus cooked (killed) those poor little plants to death!
Mixing in some perilite helped, of course; but you should've used the top soil too.

So now you know the reason why.

~* Robin
Tuscaloosa, AL
(Zone 7b)

January 25, 2009
6:12 AM

Post #6047865

I have several raised beds that have produced very nice veggies. I just filled them with the $1.29/bag dirt from Lowe's. I added several bags of compost to each bed and add dried leaves and such when I get them. I side dress with 10-10-10 fertilizer a couple of times while they are growing. I don't personally see anything wrong with the planting soil you used as you're not doing container gardening. It's just too expensive for me to fill as many beds as I have.

However, if you watered them every single day, you may have watered them too much and too often. Did you check to see if they really needed water every day? In the spring and fall I only water my beds about once a week. In the hottest part of the summer I water about twice a week, if it doesn't rain, that is. Watering too much is my biggest problem. I am always sure they need watering, so I have to make myself check first. This has cut way back on my watering and also produced much better results and more productive plants.


Kenwood, CA

January 25, 2009
2:25 PM

Post #6048422

Everything you planted is a warm-weather crop. If your air and soil temperatures have ranged below 70F -- the optimal growing season temperature for these crops is 75F to almost 90F -- your crops may be simply biding their time (sort of like growth dormant) until the weather warms then they will commence growing again. (The nursery selling the plants knew this and was clearing out its inventory.) Squash blossoms will drop when the temperature dips under 70F. So if the plants have not totally departed, see how they do as the weather warms. Many plants we call warm-weather annuals originated in tropical zones where they are perennials growing year round.
Tuscaloosa, AL
(Zone 7b)

January 25, 2009
3:47 PM

Post #6048811


The lettuce and broccoli are both cool weather crops. The rest are warm weather crops. But in any event, she purchased these as plants from her local garden shop. I don't know anything about what would be appropriate for central FL in the winter, but I would think the garden shop should know.

Reno, NV

January 30, 2009
12:11 AM

Post #6068410

Keep researching and don't give up on growing Veggiestar:)
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

January 30, 2009
5:50 PM

Post #6071166

Quoting:I filled that bad boy up with the best organic "perfect for new veggi gardens" soil so the bag said' that my local home depot had to offer.

I'm amazed that NatureWalker can look at that description and know exactly what brand of soil was used and why it went wrong.

Maybe some day I'll have that gift. ;)

I'm wondering if the bags of "organic perfect for new vegetable gardens" soil was the 99 cent bags of sandy refuse I've seen at Home Depot.

As others have said, there is a season for everything, and the timing might have been off on some of those plants.
New York & Terrell, TX
(Zone 8b)

February 3, 2009
4:52 AM

Post #6086220

Hi Morgan,

Quoting:I'm amazed that NatureWalker can look at that description and know exactly what brand of soil was used and why it went wrong.

Because of Experience! = Been there; done that!!
Plus it's the only one that HD sells.

Have you ever read the instructions? Please take time to read this: Miracle-GroŽ Garden Soil for Flowers & Vegetables

"How often to apply: Amend in-ground gardens annually mixing 50/50 with existing soil."

~* Robin

Edited to say that the bags were $3.99 per 1 cubic foot.

This message was edited Feb 2, 2009 10:58 PM
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

February 3, 2009
3:45 PM

Post #6087391

Alright thanks for the insight.

Since veggiestarr is growing in a raised bed, and already has this Miracle Gro stuff, what's the solution? I don't use MG stuff.
New York & Terrell, TX
(Zone 8b)

February 4, 2009
4:17 AM

Post #6090758

Well, it depends on how many bags she used. Mine was an Octagonal bed, (6 foot all around) I used 10 bagfuls. I shoveled out 4 bagfuls & put in 6 bags of the el-cheapo soil @ 99 cents per bag. That was painful. I worked the el-cheapo soil into the MG soil in the bed with some Vermiculite (one bagful, that I found @ Loews,) and then waited till a week later and retried the plants.

It did work out better then. Everything flourished. I then used the other 4 bagfuls to amend the soil over on the daffodil bed.

That was a lesson I never want to repeat!


~* Robin
West Warren, MA

February 11, 2009
9:13 AM

Post #6123004

New to gardening for vegetables!
Want to use cow compost (broken bags from Lowes) and need to buy soil (broken bag specials).
Should I use top soil ? Soil that already has fertilizer in it?? How much cow compost per plant?? Easier for me to just dump out soil where I want it..
Read that vegetables grown in Cow or Chicken compost have lots more nutrients and do taste better..probably why my father's were so good!!
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

February 11, 2009
3:02 PM

Post #6123740

Bagged topsoil is usually filler with a lot of sand.

Is this Black Kow premium cow manure (yellow bag -- $4.50 a bag)? This is really fantastic stuff. 2-3 bags is all you need to jumpstart a 3' x 12' bed.

Or is this the 99 cent bags? Those are mostly sand. If you read the label, it will say "Contains up to 10% manure". I wonder what the other 90% is. ;)

Have you tried contacting a Soil market of some kind? They can have a garden/vegetable mix for as little as $25 for 1 cubic yard. 1 cu yd = 27 cubic feet which is enough for a 3' x 12' garden bed filled to a depth of 9 inches. A 3' x 12' bed will hold 8 large tomato plants, or a combination of tomatoes, peppers, etc.

If you go that route, you will want to ask them what percent of their soil mix is compost and what the compost is made out of.
West Warren, MA

February 12, 2009
10:10 AM

Post #6127479

Thanks Feldon, never thought to look to see how much cow manure is actually in the bag...Lowe's usually sells it for about $2.50 a bag..1/2 off if bag is ripped.
will Check it.
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

February 12, 2009
3:02 PM

Post #6128112

I don't suppose there are any horse or cow farms nearby? Perhaps they'd sell or give you some? Do you know anyone with rabbits? Rabbit manure is some of the best stuff you can use.

You might also periodically check out CraigsList:
I believe that's the location nearest you?

Have you been to any local nurseries?
Sparrows Point, MD

February 12, 2009
5:24 PM

Post #6128817

I meant to reply to your post. Get the book - Square Foot Gardening. You will find a formula for perfect soil. It results in very good production from the get go. I recommend it to anyone using a raisd bed system.
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

February 12, 2009
6:41 PM

Post #6129121

I got the impression that Geraldine was on a bit of a budget (aren't we all these days?). By my calculations, SFG costs anywhere from $5-8 a cubic foot.

Also, I find SFG to be overly optimistic on the spacing of tomato plants. I recommended a minimum of 2-3 foot spacing center-to-center for tomato plants.

This message was edited Feb 12, 2009 12:43 PM
New York & Terrell, TX
(Zone 8b)

February 13, 2009
4:47 PM

Post #6133392

Feldon says:
Quoting:Do you know anyone with rabbits?

Isn't the rabbit food just as good as a fertilizer?

Definition of alfalfa tea:

Alfalfa Pellets (5-1-2)

~* Robin

Forgot something. Alfalfa Meal Analysis (Pellets):
Something you can buy any where pet food can be bought. I got mine at Walmart 10 pounds for $4.99.

This message was edited Feb 13, 2009 10:53 AM

This message was edited Feb 13, 2009 10:55 AM
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

February 13, 2009
5:41 PM

Post #6133607

Alfalfa is indeed a good component, but since it is mostly nitrogen, you don't want to overdo it on tomatoes, peppers, or other fruiting crops. I would think only small handfuls could be used.

However the product you get from the rabbit can be used in large quantities. ;)
Orlando, FL

February 20, 2009
9:43 PM

Post #6166425

Speaking from a Florida gardener...patience and you will be surpised...I was!!! I have things popping up that I planted before Hurricane season last year that I thought had washed away...Carrot and lettuce...and my bell peppers are going crazy right now...I just put hydrated chicken manure in and stopped watering like crazy!!
West Warren, MA

February 21, 2009
12:33 PM

Post #6168753

Thanks for all the help!! Great gardening ecopepper!! I lived in Fl. for 5 yrs. til the DH passed away...enjoyed the sun AND heat!!
And the people are very friendly!!
Manteca, CA
(Zone 9b)

March 1, 2009
2:24 PM

Post #6205852

Great information here. I'll be trying out a raised vegetable bed this year.
Thanks In Advance
Orlando, FL

March 3, 2009
4:26 PM

Post #6216141

Okay now it's too dry so I put a sprinkle drip system in...It hooks up to my hose and you can put sprayers and drips where YOU want...I have been watering more with the produce getting bigger and the air dryer...but the system I got at Lowes for 29.00 is a water saver too...took me 30 minutes to set it up...Good luck to ya 3bebad2!!

Making a raised bed on other side of pool 2 triangles for taller plants that need lots of sun...any ideas?? I have to do triangle because of the pool light wire holder...thinking corn and companion planting maybe...there's another thread for companion planting and they have some great ideas!!

Oh well back to laundry!!


Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

May 16, 2011
6:04 PM

Post #8567938

How well did roots penetrate down into the soil? Vigorous root balls going down 12 or more inches? Or spindly things that kept to the surface?

Infrequent watering encourages ropots to go down to find water, where they also find more minerals. Shallow surface watering (or "wet feet" due to poor drainage) keep roots near the surface, where they don't find as many minerals.

I have not been impressed with most bagged soils from HD. They even had one brand of "cattle manure compost" with around 10% coarse gravel. Most soil I have bought there, even "potting soil" was way too heavy and water-retentive.

Without knowing anything, i would ask if the soil and the bed have good enough drainage. If it really needed to be watered every day, I guess so! But ideally, one would not water until at least the top several inches were pretty dry . When the plants pull the water out, or it drains by gravity, air can get down into the soil. Roots need air just like we do (other than some bog plants' roots.)

The question is: what was the soil like down deep where the roots wnat to grow? If it was gooey and wet, instead of open and airy and moist, consider improving your drainage.

I have always had soggy and poorly draining clay soil, until I mixed in enough compost, grit, coarse sand and fine pine bark mulch. So I'm obsessed about drainage.

There can be bad drainage because your Home Depot RB soil is too fine and not "open". A mix high in peat moss would be like that. Rich, but soggy. Too easily compressed. Roots need air like us: you don't worry about malnutrition while you're drowning!

There can also be bad drainage because the soil UNDER your bed is impervious and you haven't arranged a slope to carry excess water away.

Was there much coarse stuff in your bagged soil? That helps to create and maintain channels and voids that let water out and air in.

If you dug a hand or trowel down 6-10 inches, is it nice and loose and crumbly, with clods plus air spaces? Or is it gooey and sodden like pudding? Add perlite, crushed rock, grit, very coarse sand or very fine gravel. Add coarse compost, e.g. with fine twigs or chips. Medium pine bark mulch is good. Maybe coir chunks.

If the base soil UNDER your raised bed drains well straight down, you have good drainage.

If not, for example if you have clay soil, look at the slope or grade that your raised bed sits on. Find the lowest edge or corner - where the base soil or "floor" of the bed is lowest. That is where any water you add is going to pool and drown roots.

Lead the water away from that low point, and all the excess water will follow it. That's a good thing because it lets air into the soil.

Next time there are no plants in that corner, dig out the soil and cut a trench down into the base soil. Cut the trench deep enough that the floor of the whole bed can drain DOWN towards that trench. Backfill with whatever soil is in the bed, plus very coarse sand or fine gravel, grit, bark, wood chips, or anything coarse to keep it draining as well as possible.

The important part is that the floor of the trench be lower than the floor of the bed.

Then extend the trench down the slope so that any runoff keeps running off!

Never build a bed in a low spot unless you have very permeable base soil! Roots will drown when they reach the water table.

Ideally, extend the trench to some place where water can drain away, or where you want a pond or puddle or big.

But it might be informative to temporarily dead-end the trench at a hole you dig. After a rain or heavy watering, does that hole fill with water? If so, you may have just kept your roots from drowning.


You cannot post until you register and login.

Other High Yield Gardening Threads you might be interested in:

SubjectThread StarterRepliesLast Post
Plant spacing jkehl 25 Apr 26, 2011 11:01 AM
How can you tell if you have enough space? sowersjoy 12 Mar 5, 2007 2:32 PM
Designing Raised Beds for Veggies CultivatingKate 24 Mar 25, 2013 1:20 PM
Container growing vs. raised bed growing yields silverglow 63 Dec 1, 2011 7:34 PM
Square Foot Gardening (SFG) construction pics 1_Lucky_Texan 55 May 20, 2013 7:02 AM

Overwhelmed? There's a lot to see here. Try starting at our homepage.

[ Home | About | Advertise | Media Kit | Mission | Featured Companies | Submit an Article | Terms of Use | Tour | Rules | Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy | Contact Us ]

Back to the top

Copyright © 2000-2015 Dave's Garden, an Internet Brands company. All Rights Reserved.

Hope for America