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Raised Garden Beds- Properly Compost Your Beds

Tomatoes growing in raised garden beds
Tomatoes growing in raised garden beds

When starting seeds in a garden or planting transplants, you always want a nice seed bed. Compaction of the soil is the enemy in your garden, so remember that when making your raised garden beds. There is no right or wrong way of making raised garden beds, some vegetable growers prefer to make raised beds from wooden frames and others simply mound the soil and compost.

If you need to bring compost into your raised garden beds to fill them, make sure you are using compost that has been properly composted. Compost is not always ideal for growing vegetables, if it was not properly composted it may cause salt and disease problems. This type of compost is toxic and often kill or slow the growth of your plants.

What is compost? -Oxidated decomposition of a mix of organic matter

Using a thermal compost pile is the best compost for growing vegetables in raised garden beds. The compost pile should not reach high temperatures and be turned on a regular basis. When the temperature of the compost pile heats up the organisms are going so fast they will consume all of the oxygen. When your turn the compost pile you will slow the organisms down by keeping temperatures down.

“If the compost pile is not aerobic the entire time, don’t use it”

Using aerobic compost will help build soil structure by increasing water holding capability, preform proper nutrient cycling while suppressing insect and disease causing organisms. If the compost pile is not properly managed with the right amount of moisture (50% moisture) and oxygen it is of no benefit for gardening. When you purchase compost for your garden notice most places will have compost with many dark areas. This is an indication that the environment in the compost pile was anaerobic, we want soil life and dead compost is not going to cycle nutrients to the plants as they need it.

 All of the greenhouse tomato growers we work with grow tomatoes on raised beds and cover the soil with black plastic. The loose soil in the beds allow the plants to start out vigorously for many reasons, soil without compaction is aerated and that means soil life. The soil is doing the proper nutrient cycling and feeding the plant what it needs with available nutrients at the right times.