Gardening How-To Guides

Below Matt answers some of the most frequently asked questions our readers have asked over the years.

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Vegetable Gardening

Raised Bed Gardening

What are some of the benefits to making a raised bed garden?

Raised beds are great for the following reasons:

  • Access: Gardeners don’t have to bend over as much to access plants & vegetables
  • Weeds: Weeds are generally reduced due to height of the bed and soil tends to be cleaner
  • Soil: Since you’ll be filling the raised bed, the soil is not compacted (as the ground would be) and you can control the soil mix you use
  • Aesthetics: Raised beds can be a beautiful addition to a property!
What is a good soil mix to use in a raised bed garden?

A quality mix to use in a raised bed is ⅓ top soil, ⅓ peat moss and ⅓ compost. The top soil is your base but doesn’t add much porosity (air space) or nutrition to the soil. Peat moss adds oxygen and loosens the soil to make it fluffy. This fluffy texture and porosity allows plant roots to grow through the soil well. Compost adds the nutrition plants need to grow well.

Soil Amendments

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What should I add to my soil to improve it?

Two major amendments you can use are peat moss and compost.

Peat moss helps to loosen the soil. While it doesn’t add much nutrition, it adds air space and oxygen into the soil. This helps plant roots develop by giving them room to grow and gives them the oxygen they need to carry out metabolic processes for development.

 

Compost adds nutrition into the soil and can also loosen the soil like peat moss. Good compost is a dark brown/black in color and will add all the essential elements into the soil that plants need for growth and development.

Is there any benefit to adding lobster compost into my soil?

Yes, lobster compost has many of the same benefits as adding ordinary compost- plus added calcium. This calcium is great for growing crops such as tomatoes and squash because it helps to battle calcium deficiencies that lead to stress and diseases such as blossom end rot.

Is it safe to use manure in my vegetable garden?
In general, the answer is yes. However, you want to try to used “aged” manure that has been composted or let sit for a while. Most bagged manure products available in garden centers and home stores are fine. Mix this manure in thoroughly with your garden soil and do not pile densely next to plants, especially young/tender plants.
Is it safe to use fresh chicken manure?
There is mixed information available about this. Some say yes but not on young plants. Some say no, let it age first. If given the option, let the manure age and compost for a while before using. If you have to use it fresh, mix it in completely with your soil to minimize your risk of burning plants.

Trees

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Shrubs

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Roses

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Lawns

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