Comment: Here's What I Used

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Here's What I Used

I used the Mel's Mix recommended by the Square Foot Gardening technique which uses raised beds.

1/3 Perlite (Vermiculite Wasn't Available and I probably didn't use a full 1/3 of perlite, more like a 1/4 or maybe slightly less)
1/3 Peat Moss
1/3 Compost/Gardening Soil
I also used 2 bags of cow manure into each of my two raised 8X4X10.5 beds. (This offset the cut back on the perlite in terms of total volume needed to fill the bed).

I would up your perlite/vermiculite amount if you're in a hot area/area that doesn't get tons of rain. The perlite/vermiculite absorbs water and releases it slowly into the garden as it dries out plus keeps the soil aerated. The 1/3 of compost/gardening soil I'm sure would be fine to use worm castings, mushroom compost, etc. You just want nice, rich organic soil in there.

According the SFG, you don't need to really add any fertilizer but simply add rich compost every so often. I have a compost bin that all food scraps and leafy yard debris go into, turn it a couple times a month and keep it slightly moist.

My beds are doing great with only about 4 hours of direct light. I have spinach, leaf lettuce, sugar snap peas, zuchinni/squash, swiss chard, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, beets and radishes. My tomatoes, cucumbers, iceberg lettuce and zuch/squash may not do that well because of the light hours but I'm putting in two more 8X4X10.5 next year in a spot getting 7 - 8 hours of direct light.

Best of luck and remember to enjoy the garden. I tend to obsess with projects like this so have to stop myself and be proud of my bounty so far from my first garden.

Enjoy! We may be adding chickens next year.

P.S. We have moles here so I put hardware mesh underneath each of my raised beds to keep the little buggers from getting in there and eating my roots. I put this in an area where grass was growing but didn't use any newspapers or landscape cloth to keep the grass from coming through, I think the 10 1/2 inch depth of soild keeps them from coming through but you probably don't need it.