organic gardening: re-using last years vegetable soil…

It’s almost (kinda) spring and all I can think about is getting my garden in order! Last year, I built 3 elevated raised beds that are waist high (I have a family of groundhogs that love tomatoes and testing eggplants) and it was super empowering to build something that is actually still standing! 🙂 Also, I decided not to do indoor seedlings since I can easily cover the raised beds- plus I want to compare the difference (trial and error).

Unfortunately, my pretty new raised beds did not have it’s normal bounty last year. One thing I forgot to do was drill holes in the bottom of the raised beds for drainage, but I think the real problem was the amendments I added to previously used soil (even with “crop” rotation).  I really hate not reusing my soil because I spend soooo much on it – which includes compost, amendments, fertilizers, etc.. plus, that doesn’t really fit well into the sustainability model (creating my own compost is on this years list).

Soooo… I spent the last few days removing weeds, breaking up older soil, adding Bumper Crop soil builder, Peat Moss and Vermiculite. I’m going to test the “re-worked” soil in 2 raised beds and use fresh Bumper Crop (my current favorite) in my other beds.

This year, I’m doing a quasi version of the square foot garden method because I built my raise beds 4×2 as opposed to 4×4. I’m growing some heirloom items (tomatoes and lettuce), beets, peas, peppers and garden beans. This is my 4th year, but I’m still learning! Every year (except last year) has been great, but I love it- the learning process, hands in dirt, watching the seedlings grow and eating the fruits of my labor (clean, organic deliciousness- no comparison to store bought vegetables).

This is my little start to self sustainability… one veggie at at time.

Oh!! I decided not to use cedar when building my first raised beds because cedar is too expensive to mess up (for 3 beds). They’re a little beat up from the weather, so I just purchased some milk paint (safe/non-toxic) to beautify them this year. You can buy small sizes from Michael’s (Folk Art) or make your own using Martha Stewart’s or Bob Vila from This Old House recipe.

My Re-Use Soil Mix: Equal parts of Bumper Crop Soil Builder, Vermiculite, Peat Moss with about 1 cubic foot of Last Years Garden Soil (break up/weeded/remove big roots) for fullness (see above photo). We shall see how this works out.. lol



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