Raised bed advice


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I built a 4x16 raised veggie garden where i plan to grow peppers, tomatoes, and a variety of other veggies. i'm good with sunlight, when to plan, etc...but i'm looking for some advice on how to maximize the garden's success. Any help is appreciated
  1. Should I put mulch down? I understand the benefits of mulch on soil but wasn't sure if i should do it in the veggie garden. If so, when should I put it down? After I plant everything (different things are planted at different times)? After the seedlings sprout? What type of mulch would work best?
  2. I built my base soil out of topsoil and compost (about 85% of the bed) and will use potting mix for the remainder which ill lay out when I plant. I'll also add fertilizer at that point. But how often should I use 'plant food' throughout the process? Growing peppers in pots last year I fed them regularly using the veggie blend from the store mixed with water and they turned out great. Should the same process be followed with raised beds, or should I just rely on the organic material?
  3. Lastly how often should I "update" the soil by adding additional compost throughout the season?
 
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I prefer wheat straw as mulch because of the ease of handling with a pitch fork on large areas, but in your beds possibly a small 4 tine hand held fork. I mulch anytime I get the urge. If I plant seeds I just pull the straw back and plant. If setting plants out, pull the straw back and plant then pull the mulch back up around the plant. If wind is a problem, which it is often for me, I pull the straw up higher for protection.

I don't do fertilizer when plants are in the dirt. If I fertilize it's done in the off season because if a plant struggles or even dies I know I can rule out a mistake of my fertilizing.
 

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1. Should I put mulch down? I understand the benefits of mulch on soil but wasn't sure if i should do it in the veggie garden. If so, when should I put it down? After I plant everything (different things are planted at different times)? After the seedlings sprout? What type of mulch would work best?
I mulch my veg beds with shredded fall leaves. These are shredded with a bagging lawn mower and piled on the raised bed at the end of the year before putting it to sleep for the winter. I don't mix the leaf mulch into the soil each year but just push it out of the way to plant in.

I don't like putting wood chip or shredded bard in my garden beds anymore as they always work down into the soil and end up ruining carrots.

2. I built my base soil out of topsoil and compost (about 85% of the bed) and will use potting mix for the remainder which ill lay out when I plant. I'll also add fertilizer at that point. But how often should I use 'plant food' throughout the process? Growing peppers in pots last year I fed them regularly using the veggie blend from the store mixed with water and they turned out great. Should the same process be followed with raised beds, or should I just rely on the organic material?
My mulch is my fertilizer for the most part. I will add worm castings / compost to holes when transplanting.

3. Lastly how often should I "update" the soil by adding additional compost throughout the season?
My leaf mulch is my compost. Over the year it breaks down significantly.

This is what has worked for me. I don't 'till my garden. I don't bring in much compost. I do compost all kitchen scraps with a worm bin compost system.
 
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Mulch is more important on raised beds than in your garden in general, because it will drain more quickly.
My own opinion is that 2" of woodchips are best, as that will help to suppress weeds & is a reasonable amount to rot down every year.
Provides excellent home for beneficial fungi, & worms, beetles etc. like to live underneath it.
 

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