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raised beds

hi all
I had landscapers' help last year to build me some more attractive raised beds. They dumped a lot of stony soil into the beds and I didn't get time to deal with removing them all. End result was fewer beans than usual on 1st bed and only chard/lettuce on the 2nd bed. I want to grow parsnips and other root veg so would be grateful for advice on the soil. Do I empty the bed, sift it, improve what I've got? I don't have huge amounts of spare time!



  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,855
    Hi and welcome to the Forum.
    How deep are the beds and how much room is there top put good stuff on top of the stony stuff?
    Parsnips will fork hideously in stony soil
  • Thanks! It's 25cm deep and directly on top of clay soil but not much spare space at top. I had previously (several years ago now) grown semi-decent parsnips in the diy raised bed there before. Admittedly they forked a little but  I could live with it.
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,855
    I suppose it depends on which you'd prefer: removing stones or forked parsnips.
    The other thing to consider is what to do with the stones.
  • True! The soil before wasn't as stony as it is now so maybe I'll have another go at removing some of the bigger stones and see what kind of parsnips emerge. Could be interesting :smile:
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,855
    gardening is a series of challenges and options. ;)
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,007
    I would fork over the bed to remove as many stones as possible and then rake it level and top it with some well-rotted garden compost or a bag or two of cheap multi-purpose compost.   You'd only need to do this on the bed allotted to parsnips each year so it won't take long. 

    You could encourage straight parsnips by using a dibber to make deep holes at regular intervals and fill those with more compost before sowing a parsnip seed or two at each station.  That way they'll have a smooth run before they hit harder soil.   

    For the other beds, I'd put down a layer of cardboard now and hold it down with a good layer of well-rotted garden compost or manure, depending on your crop rotation.   The worms and winter rains will work that down into your soil ready for your spring sowings and plantings.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • actually I have a load of cardboard from Christmas boxes etc so timing on that is good. Thanks for the tip.
  • The best parsnips I ever grew were using @Obelixx's method, suggested to me by a friend who grew them on an industrial scale in his allotment.  Holes made by a crowbar, filled with multi-purpose compost, 3 seeds sown in each station, thinned to one.  Worked a treat.   :)
    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
  • I have a broken spade handle which might sub for a crowbar...
  •  :) 
    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
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