Raised bed prep


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We live in Ohio, clay soil, deer, turkey, groundhogs, etc. We are putting in a raised bed U shaped vegetable garden with deer fence. It will have a planting depth of 20 inches. I hate to bother everyone with lots of questions but yikes! I have so much to learn so I appreciate any help I can get.
1. What ratio of top soil, fertilizer, compost or what ever else I should use.
2. We don't have a level piece of ground so we will have to level it. We know we need a slight slope so the walking area can drain. Correct?
3. Would you use cardboard, limbs, leaves at the bottom with hardware cloth?

Thanks so much I know I will have a million more questions but this will help us get started.
 
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We live in Ohio, clay soil, deer, turkey, groundhogs, etc. We are putting in a raised bed U shaped vegetable garden with deer fence. It will have a planting depth of 20 inches. I hate to bother everyone with lots of questions but yikes! I have so much to learn so I appreciate any help I can get.
1. What ratio of top soil, fertilizer, compost or what ever else I should use.
2. We don't have a level piece of ground so we will have to level it. We know we need a slight slope so the walking area can drain. Correct?
3. Would you use cardboard, limbs, leaves at the bottom with hardware cloth?

Thanks so much I know I will have a million more questions but this will help us get started.
When I did raised beds I tried to maintain 25% manure based compost and 75% soil. I found by trial and error that about 30% was maximum without fungal problems appearing. One would think that the more compost the better but that is not true. As far a drainage is concerned you want everything to drain, walkways and rows. On the bottom of the beds I wouldn't put anything. Many folks have tried a weed barrier on the bottom with hardware cloth and fabric weed barriers. They both end up a disaster in the long run. When you put leaves or any uncomposted material into a garden it actually reduces the available nitrogen. When you set out your transplants do so with a shovel. Take a couple of big shovel fulls of the soil and put it into a wheelbarrow and mix that soil with your fertilizer (organic) and replace it into the hole. Then plant your transplant. When doing row crops scatter the fertilizer on top and then get a hard rake and rake the fertilizer into the soil. Then sow your seed.
 
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I wouldn't use landscape fabric or anything under your raised bed. Just clean the area very well remove all the weeds and roots and then install your raised bed and add the mix Chuck is talking about.
 
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As usual @Chuck is right, too much love in the form of compost is common amongst gardeners. Shoot for 10%, you will add some every year anyway, even in the form of nursery plants. I read a paper where someone made a point to examine yield which went down as 30% levels were breached. It kills me he got that number on his own. He is very smart. :giggle:
 
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As usual @Chuck is right, too much love in the form of compost is common amongst gardeners. Shoot for 10%, you will add some every year anyway, even in the form of nursery plants. I read a paper where someone made a point to examine yield which went down as 30% levels were breached. It kills me he got that number on his own. He is very smart. :giggle:
Could you please point me to the paper ?

Thanks.
 
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This is explaining some of the reasons less is more. Imbalance as a theme is one way to describe the underlying idea.

That's interesting: the problem is the high phosphorus included in the animal manure that's preventing absorption of other nutrients.

I'm planning to make fast compost (Berkeley method) and incorporate some 2 year old cow manure in it: it's for my young grape vines and blackberries straight in the ground, to spread this October.

Should i thus use cow manure sparingly in the mix ? Maybe incorporate more wood chips ?
 
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I would not use manure products without sobriety. Here is why.

I totally agree, herbicide residues in manure are the bane of every gardener.

But in my case, the cows come from my distant relatives who don't use pesticides on the fields being grazed by their cows. I'm assured at 100% of pesticide-free manure.
 
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This post is for ALL of the gardeners who use either/and manure or plant based compost. This is a simple and easy test to determine if your compost is safe. Put a couple of shovels full of the compost into a 5 gallon bucket and fill it up with water. Stir it all up. Let it sit for 24-48 hours. Longer is better. Pour this over a broadleaf weed such as a dandelion, thistle etc. Check the weed in 48 hours. If there is ANY change in the weed the compost is NOT safe. More and more hay growers are using these long life herbicides. If you don't grow it yourself be wary. If you use Weed and Feed on your grass and save the clippings, do the test. If you use ANY herbicide do the test. Once you use compost with these herbicides it will take years for it to go away. There are companies that specialize in soil remediation and sell products to clean up the soil. The best of these companies is Medina Products located in Hondo, Texas. They operate world wide and specialize in Toxic Waste Sites. Everything from radiation to chemicals. Depending on your specific problem they also market the remedial products to the general public.
 

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