Replenishing soil in raised bed : is blood, fish & bones a good option

Discussion in 'Edible Gardening' started by Aldo, Mar 30, 2019.

  1. Aldo

    Aldo Super Gardener

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    Last year I made a raised bed (2 feet by 8) and a few smaller ones, used for cordon tomatoes and courgettes with good success, and for a bit of rocket and radish (which was a success with the slugs mainly, but anywyay).

    All plants were grown "ring culture" style, in bottomless pots, with tomatoe rings on top (thanks for the advice here on the forum, it worked really well in terms of both irrigation and pest control) and growbag rings on top, for good measure.

    Given sunny spots are very few in our small garden, I cannot really rotate cultures. I will plant again tomatoes and courgettes in the same bed.
    I removed the top soil, and most the soil from the last year ring pots, to reduce the chance of pests having overwintered there.

    I was wondering how to replenish the soil.
    I will anyway fill the pots with new compost, and add Mycorrhiza to the roots, given it has worked very well in the past. But the cordons I am growing go quite deep, and the courgettes spread a lot once they reach the bottom of the pot.
    I made a composting area last year, but it is in shadow and I probably fed it the wrong stuff, so I have no compost.

    Is blood, Fish and Bones a good option to mix with the soil?
    If it is, how much would I need for an area that size?

    Are algae extracts or other seaweed based products any better?

    Thanks for any opinion and advice!
     
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    • Spruce

      Spruce Glad to be back .....

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      Hi Aldo

      May I ask the soil mix that you made up for the raised bed ?
      you cant go wrong with Vitax Q4 fertiliser as it contains everything a plant requires , I asked what the raised bed is made out of as if multipurpose it runs out of food very quickly ie 6 weeks plus with all the rain over the winter washed the nutrients out of the soil ....


      Spruce
       
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        Last edited: Mar 30, 2019
      • Aldo

        Aldo Super Gardener

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        Hi Spruce

        The soil was 50% from my garden, which is sadly clay.
        I added some vermiculite and perlite, but in very little proportion, and mixed in a few wheelbarrows of soil from the back of the garden, a very shady area which stayed under horticultural fleece for 4 years. This is better quality soil, with much less clay and lots of happy worms.
        I think my landlady bought that soil when she tried to grow vegetables in the back of the garden years ago, but because of the shade it did not work out well, so she covered it up with fleece.

        So, I am not quite sure what the mix exactly is, unfortunately.
        After making the bed, I tried to go for a 'permaculture' approach of sort, areating the soil with with a fork, rather than turning it.
        I also fertilized it once per month with a solution of sugar cane molasses, plus epsom salts on the occasion, which seems to have worked well for tomatoes and courgettes.

        Thanks!

        Aldo
         
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        • Spruce

          Spruce Glad to be back .....

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          "sugar cane molasses" is a intresting read , if that works for you stick with that ... you can always top up the feed in the summmer with a general tomato food ... Nothing wrong with clay as its full of plant foods and you adding the perlite will help with drainage , I find vermiculite goes a bit sticky so I dont use that any more ... but it does help in retaing water and in a raised bed can only help ...

          Spruce
           
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          • Aldo

            Aldo Super Gardener

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            I found out about the molasses in James Wong's book, "Grow for flavour". Accordingly to him, aside of feeding the plants, it helps beneficial bacteria too.
            Having no experience with other products, I can only compare with some expensive strawberry feed I bought a few years ago, and molasses seems to work at least just as well.
            Molasses fed strawberries actually tasted much better, but then, I also used better soil for new plants, sprayed them with aspirin solution, and last summer weather was unusual, so it is hard to tell what made a difference and what did not.
            Costwise, molasses is hard to beat. Specialized food shops charge a lot for it, but fortunately horses owners feed the organic variety to their animals. So it can be had for cheap from veterinary suppliers.
            A 20 liters order set me off less than £30 and it is probably enough for 10 seasons.

            However, something I read online gave me the impression that slow release fertilizers, such as blood and bones, might work differently, because they do not get washed out by rain so easily, so they can help plants bridge between feeds . But perhaps it is just a bunch of nonsense..

            Good to know that clay has some positive sides. My lawn struggles a lot with it, and I will probably spend some time tomorrow lifting the soil to let it breath a bit. But the mixed soil in the raised bed is much softer.

            Thanks so much for all the advice Spruce, much appreciated !
             
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