The Southern Agrarian

Southern Agrarianism and the culture of the Old South

Mixing The Growing Mixture

In our raised bed garden, we use a growing mixture (not really “soil”) made up of several components, so they must be thoroughly mixed before adding to the garden. Since we’re dealing with a couple hundred pounds in each batch, mixing take a bit of planning. Here’s how we do it:

A large tarp is spread out on the ground. The components are added and mixed one at a time. (Components are shown for illustration only - they are added one at a time.)

A large tarp is spread out on the ground. The components are added and mixed one at a time. (Components are shown on the tarp for illustration only.)

We always start with the Peat Moss. It comes in a compressed bale, so it has to be broken apart until it is all the same consistency. The flat side of a rake is used to spread it out, then just stepping on the chunks breaks it down.

We always start with the Peat Moss. It comes in a compressed bale, so it has to be broken apart until it is all the same consistency. The flat side of a rake is used to spread it out, then just stepping on the chunks breaks it down.

As the rest of the components are added, one at a time, the flat side of an iron rake is used to mix it well before the next component is added. It should be pretty well mixed before the next step of rolling it in the tarp.

At this point, it takes two people. Each holds one corner and then the tarp is folded back onto itself, rolling and thoroughly mixing the components. Go back and forth a couple of times until it is all looks thoroughly mixed.

At this point, it takes two people. Each holds one corner and then the tarp is folded back onto itself, rolling and thoroughly mixing the components. Go back and forth a couple of times until it is all looks thoroughly mixed.

I use a large grain shovel to move the mixture into the raised bed. A 2×4 is dragged across the top to level it out.

Don’t plan on doing more than a couple of batches a day – it takes longer than you might think to do a batch, and it’s pretty heavy work.

2 Comments

  1. Robert Scarborough

    April 19, 2014 at 11:58 am

    What are the ingredients and mix ratio? Or is that a family secret?

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      April 19, 2014 at 12:08 pm

      Hi, Robert.

      No family secret at all. Here’s the mixture I was using here. I’m afraid that I’ve become rather lax in the mixtures now that the main garden area is filled. When I need something for a small project (like the mini-mint gardens, and a fig planting project), I often just use some potting soil such as Fafard 3B, and then mix in some composted cow manure, composted chicken manure, and maybe some mushroom compost.

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