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Building soil

    Date Posted: Sun, Feb 26 - 5:45 pm

    Question

  • We are making new raised beds for flowers and veggies. We are designing them with a wooden frame and then approaching the layers as a lasagne garden. My partner is thinking he can use only mushroom compost and cardboard to fill these beds but from what I read we need about 75% soil and 25% mushroom compost. Is this accurate for Richmond soils? Thanks for your insights on how to best lay the ground materials for thriving flower & veggie beds. Much appreciated, Jāna
  • Answer

  • Hello Jana, My go-to resource for soil building is the permaculture guide--Gaia's Garden. The recommendation for building soil through compost is to use half green matter and half brown (to attain a good ratio of nitrogen to carbon). Green matter would be leaves, grass clippings, kitchen scraps (but also manure) and the brown would be dried leaves, hay (includes weeds), straw, pruning trimmings, and wood shavings or similar. The book discusses all issues such temperature of pile, size, turning, etc. The mushroom compost is great but I think the combination of materials will lead to a longer stretch of fertility in the beds. With different materials leaching their nutrients at different times. The beds will consume a lot of mulching material. One way to deal with this is to use any brush you may have collected and build hugelkultur beds. They are basically a mound of brush (tamped down), well watered and covered with organic materials, compost and soil. So you may want to use a combination of hugelkultur and organic matter with a good topping of mushroom compost. I recommend reading Gaia's Garden's chapter 4-Bringing the Soil to Life. The author's favorite method for doing so is sheet mulching (lasange gardening). Happy gardening!