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How to Have the Best Soil in Raised Beds

Hello Joel-

This year I want to create a garden out of raised beds using concrete blocks (about three or four high).  Besides using earthworms, do you have a good recipe for the soil to use?  About how many earthworms per foot would you start with, or is there a formula?  Also, which seeds would be best to plant in this type of “garden?”  I live in Wisconsin.

I thank you for your thoughts,

Darla

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Darla-

Plants in a bed like this are generally very productive just because of the aeration and elevation.  You can always create good soil with enough carbon.  A good formula is two parts soil and one part compost.  There are plenty of recipes out there for this kind of thing from folks who are smarter about this particular question than I am.  Some people like to put in vermiculate to create more looseness and water retentive capacity.  You probably should put in some crushed stone or raw mineral, like Planters II or Greensand.

As to earthworms, I wouldn’t worry about them too much because they won’t do well until you have a fertile habitat for them.  And if you have a fertile habitat, they will naturally be drawn to the bed and proliferate on their own.  Unless the beds are completely sterile, I wouldn’t worry too much about trying to seed earthworms.  They’ll come naturally as you get the habitat full of organic matter for them to eat. Remember worms like to be fed on top of their heads, so always practice minimal tillage, or gentle tillage, like with a spade rather than pulverizing.

As to seeds, plant what you like to eat.

-Joel

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