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what earth for raised beds

finally have a garden, with raised beds as my husband is in a wheelchair and i find bending difficult.
the 2.5 ft tall beds are half filled with the earth (and rubble) that existed before, then quarter of same that was sived to remove large stones and broken glass [house was built on old allotments], top quarter is wickes top soil
BUT, when i water the beds the water sits ontop of the soil creating a mud.
what should i add to the top soil to make good planting soil for my 13 raised beds.
i grow herbs and sented or tactile plants as this is a new disabled accesible garden.
any help appreciated, thank you


  • Janie BJanie B LincolnshirePosts: 781
    Welcome to the forum! Can't really help with soil types, as I've never had raised beds (but I'm sure others on here will be able to), just wanted to wish you luck... looks a fantastic and interesting project. Hope you can post some more pictures when you've done a bit more planting...
  • DampGardenManDampGardenMan Posts: 1,054
    top quarter is wickes top soil BUT, when i water the beds the water sits ontop of the soil creating a mud.
    Assuming that the soil isn't saturated, i.e. has nowhere to drain to, then one must suspect the "top soil". Squeeze some of the top soil in your hand to see if it sticks together to make a ball, rather than falling apart. If it does, then it's clay and you've been short-changed.

    If it is clay then it would be best to remove and get some genuine top soil (loam) from somewhere, else you'll be forever fighting against it. If you really can't do that then try to add lots of organic matter to help open the clay up a bit.
  • DampGardenMan :it does, then it's clay.

    If it is clay  add lots of organic matter to help open the clay up a bit.
    Thank you, it seems it is clay so NOT recomending Wickes top soil if you have 13 raised beds to fill, so now going to add orgainc matter as advised to improve the soil.  thank you for your advice.
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 4,127
    The usual test for a really clayey soil is if you can roll it into a sausage shape, and then bend it round into a ring without it breaking.  If it's not that bad (will form a ball but not a ring) it should benefit from mixing in plenty of compost.
    The "jam jar test" is also quite a fun thing to try - put some soil into a straight-sided jam jar or similar (pick out any pebbles and bits of root, twig etc), add water to cover the soil, put on the lid, give it a really good shake up to mix thoroughly then leave it undisturbed for a few days.  The biggest particles (sand) will settle to the bottom first, medium particles next, the tiny clay particles will eventually settle into a layer on top of the larger ones, and organic matter will float to the top. Here's a pic from when I did it as part of an Open University science course years ago. Mine is mostly sand with not much organic matter, and you can just about make out a very thin light-coloured clay layer in each jar!

  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 16,445
    My veg garden raised beds have earth and manure topped with a lot of compost, which, hopefully will keep weeds down and make weeding and planting easier. I mixed blood, fish and bone fertiliser in to the compost. The intention is to add more compost every year, home made and bought, and not to dig.
    Dordogne and Norfolk
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