Gardening, Kim's Journal

Kim’s Garden Soil Recipe

I am often asked about the soil in my raised beds.  What do I use? How much? Where do I buy it?

The last two years I’ve attempted to garden directly in Germantown’s hard, unforgiving clay.  Even after adding lots of compost I still had low yields.

This is the first year that I’ve used raised beds, so I did some experimenting.  The nursery blend didn’t appeal to me because it lacked the high levels of compost and manure that I was looking for.  I decided to blend my own based on what I was learning from Patty Moreno, the Garden Girl, and the Square Foot Garden technique.  I couldn’t afford to follow their exact recipe so I improvised within my budget.  I’m not sure how many bags of soil I purchased from Lowe’s and local nurseries but it was a lot!  I tried to use 3 equal parts Pete moss/garden soil, compost/manure and top soil (instead of top soil, the square foot garden experts recommend vermiculite). In some beds I was able to use a higher percentage of compost/manure than the other ingredients.  It’s more expensive if you have to buy it but the results are excellent.

My garden soil ingredients: Top soil, Black cow composted manure, organic garden soil, Pete moss, Nature’s Own garden blend, cotton burr compost, worm castings, a few have chicken manure and most have some rabbit manure. All of my beds had a layer of fall leaves at the bottom that I raked in last winter.  One had homemade compost from my backyard composter.

This year I plan to do more aggressive composting so that next spring I can rely on my own animal manures and compost to enrich my soil.  Buying all of this can be expensive so my goal is to build a self sufficient and sustainable system in my backyard.

I’m still experimenting with plant food.  I love the tomato tone and garden tone the best.  The liquid seaweed is still in the experimental stage.  I use the tomato blossom spray only when the blossoms are falling off or are slow to set and grow tomatoes. When my rabbit manure catcher is full I empty it right into whichever bed looks hungriest. I also use my worm castings around a plant’s roots whenever the leaves start to yellow.

One very important ingredient that I always add to my beds after they’ve been planted and everything has grown to at least an inch, is mulch.  I use hardwood mulch around every plant to inhibit weed germination and growth, to hold in soil moisture, protect my plants from drying out quickly, moderate soil-temperature fluctuations, and add nutrition to the soil. There are many different types of mulch to choose from including straw, hay, grass clippings, leaves, wood chips and Pete moss.


About Kim Martindale

Mother of two, wife of one, home manager, gardener, student of health and wellness, world traveler, nature lover, researcher, Jesus follower, community builder. I'm seeking to become resilient and to live sustainably. I desire to give back and share what I'm learning with others.


2 thoughts on “Kim’s Garden Soil Recipe

  1. KIM!!! Love it!! I came to the right source for getting the right soil!! I’ll send pictures once I get it started. Love you! julie

    Posted by Julie | June 6, 2011, 12:54 AM

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Kim Martindale

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