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Preparing soil for a Florida herb garden

We just finished building a frame for our raised garden bed and now I'm trying to figure out what to do for soil.  The plan was originally to take the dirt that we're digging up from another project and use that as fill dirt in the bed and then just add a good layer of topsoil.  The bed is HUGE, spanning the width of our yard so I was hoping that we wouldn't have to purchase too much to make happy soil.  Will doing something like that work or do I need to buy all kinds of additives to play with the nitrogen, alkalinity, etc?  It's pretty typical Florida soil in that it's largely sand.  Any advice would be *greatly* appreciated.

 

Thank you!

Janine

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  • kiki

Hi Janine,

We have some great growers on the site who may have contributions but manure comes to mind. Often you can connect with  free :) sources of horse or rabbit manures that would work well to richen up that sandy soil. It does need to be aged of course......

Let's see what else comes up through the forum.....

Kiki
~bring people herbs~
poppyswap.com

Hi Janine,

When I make new garden beds for myself and my clients, I do several things that seem to work very well. First of all, I layer instead of tilling. Tilling in general does more harm than good to the biological makeup of your soil. I wrote a post on this a while back if you're interested, it can be found here: http://gardeningfornature.blogspot.com/2009/10/earthworms-are-natures-best-rototillers.html. Sometimes it's necessary to till in your amendments but it's best not to do it on an annual basis. Most of the time I simply add a mixure of 50% topsoil, 25% manure and 25% compost. If you buy commercial compost try to find out if it has bio sludge in it. If so, get something else. If you're growing root vegetables or herbs you need a depth of at least 10 - 12" of new soil mix to have the best growing conditions. Also remember that in general soil will compact by about 50% in 1 - 2 years as it settles, so what seems like a lot at the time won't in the future! Fill dirt in general is very questionable for gardens, as you never really know what's in it. Finally, if you're building a new bed on top of grass or weeds, a 1/4 inch deep layer of wet newspapers (overlapping 100%) will help decompose the grass/weeds and prevent them from growing into your soil. The newspapers have to be wet when laid on top of the grass to work well.

I hope you find this helpful! 

Kathy

For gardens and gardeners, nature lovers and earth sustainers ~ http://www.gardeningfornature.com
Dragonfly Dew at Poppy Swap ~ http://www.poppyswap.com/shop/DragonflyDew

Thanks, Kathy!  I've found so many different options out there that I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed.  I really appreciate the input!

-Janine

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