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I moved into a new house where there was an aluminum raised bed. Let us call this bed A. I made a wooden bed 10inches deep. Let us call this bed B.

Bed A was there before I came and the soil looked bad, sandy, tough and full of cacti.

I filled bed B with 10 bags of expensive best organic raised bed soil (and just that - nothing else).

I planted same species of tomatoes, spinach, and peppers in both beds. It's been 2 months since planting.

To my surprise, bed A plants grew up to 3-4 feet and ready to bear fruit. On the other hand my bed B which I was proud of, the plants are only 10 inches high, leaves turning yellow and I feel like they'll die before bearing fruit.

Where did I go wrong? Is my bed B soil too lose and not holding much water? I live in desert area of south USA.

Is there something I can do to fix it now? That is by layering it with water holding materials like coconut coir etc.

Any help would be appreciated. Willing to provide more details if needed.

  • I'd like to know precisely what 'organic raised bed soil' is - never heard of a specific soil for raised beds. Any more details on who produces it, does it have a name, what does it say on the bags, and how do they explain the tag 'organic', that is, what makes it organic? And how deep are the beds? – Bamboo May 3 '17 at 12:04
  • Thanks for the comments. I used this: m.homedepot.com/p/… – user1669710 May 3 '17 at 13:03
  • Looks like many others have the same problem as me as I just saw from the reviews. Either they are doing the same mistake as me, or the soil is really bad. – user1669710 May 3 '17 at 13:05
  • The beds are 10-12 inches deep – user1669710 May 3 '17 at 13:05
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Thanks for the link to the product. It does seem that it should be quite free draining, so living in an arid climate might mean that's a problem. There appears to be absolutely no loam or soil content in it, but the amount of fertilizer within would only be sufficient for up to 4 weeks, maybe a bit more. If you've not used any further fertilizers, then it's more than time to use some now, depending which vegetables you're actually growing. Tomatoes like a higher potash feed, but the mixed nature of the planting within your bed means you'll have to stick to something more balanced and general. Whichever product you decide on, follow the application and timings shown on the pack.

I'd certainly work in or add some humus rich material later in the year, after you've finished growing in it, or add as a mulch if you're still cropping something - good garden compost, leafmould, composted animal manure or the like. You could mulch over now to conserve moisture, once you've applied a fertilizer and made sure the bed is good and damp throughout. Not sure I'd recommend bark chips though - there's already a high ratio of wood fines in the mix, I'd choose composted animal manure, but I'm not sure what products are available where you are, nor what they're like. Composted animal manure in the UK is slightly fibrous and peatlike in nature, has no offensive manure smell after 24 hours and makes a reasonably good mulch, though a thin 1 inch layer disappears within a month or two. If you choose to mulch now, then consider carefully which fertilizer to use - if it needs re-application quite frequently, a liquid feed would be easier or you'll be disrupting your mulch layer every time you need to apply.

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