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New gardener shares worrisome photos of newly constructed raised garden bed: 'Debating on if I should start over'

"It all works fine once you amend the soil."

"It all works fine once you amend the soil."

Photo Credit: Reddit

A new green thumb took to Reddit for advice about a slow start with their raised bed garden.

The poster wrote in r/vegetablegardening that they used "local store bought compost on bottom with top soil mix on top." They shared two photos that seemingly showed sandy soil with lots of wood chips on top. There were sprouts from pepper, tomato, and other plants but nothing substantial.

"It all works fine once you amend the soil."
Photo Credit: Reddit

"Debating on if I should start over with raised garden bed soil from Lowe's and already started plants," the Biloxi, Mississippi, homeowner said in a comment.

There are many ways to start a raised bed garden, but the method requires careful consideration no matter what.

You can't, for example, dump in leaves recklessly to form a base of organic matter. You have to work in layers, tamping them down and adding water before getting to the soil and compost. You can also use logs and sticks to take up room in raised gardens, which will save you money with particularly tall beds.

This poster, though, had a relatively short raised bed that was only about eight inches deep. 

Commenters agreed that the soil was likely the issue.

"Top soil isn't meant for growing vegetables," one wrote. "If they're [planted] straight in top soil with compost inaccessible at bottom to short rooted seedlings, they probably need nutrients."

The solution was to add compost and aerate the soil.

One Redditor advised seeking out tips from local gardeners: "I made the mistake of buying lots of bags from lowes etc and found out later there is a great source for cheaper compost in my area that will deliver it for a fee. I got 4 cubic yards delivered (good sized pile of dirt on the driveway to fill my beds) for $150. It was way cheaper than the bags."

"Lowe's or Home Depot will work fine for getting started," another user said. "Getting the bed started will be the most expensive part. As previously mentioned, look for a local source of quality compost/dirt. I've had success using 1/3 garden soil, 1/3 peat moss and 1/3 compost (black kow, scott's humus and manure or that mushroom compost Lowe's sells)." 

They added: "Don't get too caught up in the potting soil, raised bed soil or garden soil labels that you'll see, it all works fine once you amend the soil."

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