So I have raised garden beds (not touching the ground) and other garden beds that WILL touch the ground. what is the best mix for BOTH of these beds? most beds will be 3ft x 2ft to 5ft x 3ft

I have came up with

  1. 50% kellogs raised bed soil/potting mix 25% peat moss 25% compost with Fish meal and spread it out on the soil

  2. 50% raised bed/potting mix soil 50% compost with fish meal spreading out

  3. 50% top soil mix with 50% manure compost with fish meal and perlite

what are your thoughts? Thanks!!!

  • 1
    Please send pictures. I am glad you are putting the compost on the top of the beds? Raised planters off the ground qualify as a pot. All pots should only have potting soil for a medium. Sounds like you've used sterilized potting mix? Peat moss, albeit an endangered resource, is very acidic. Great for potatoes and blue berries. Need to test the pH for sure. Easier to raise the pH towards neutral than making acidic. Do your raised beds have holes in the bottom of the structural material? Did you add rocks or gravel beneath the soil?
    – stormy
    Commented Sep 12, 2018 at 22:18

1 Answer 1


These are my raised beds in pumice soil from a Lodgepole Ponderosa Pine forest association. Second year after adding lots of decomposed organic matter to the surface. Soil organisms came up to eat the decomposed organic matter because it was decomposed. Then they went back into the soil 4 -6" deep to poop it out mixing into the soil perfectly. I dig out the trenches and throw the soil and organics back onto the beds. These trenches make for great drainage; as water has a place to go and collect the water in the trenches facilitates sucking out more water.

This is the only way I have done my gardens; double dig with a shovel one time down at least one foot. I would never use wood or concrete blocks to make these beds when this works far better. And I don't use potting soil for these beds.

raised beds in pumice soil, second year

I would use plain potting soil for your 'planters'. No compost, no nothing until the plants have at least 3 sets of leaves. Stay in touch with whatever you add that has some fertilizer such as fish emulsion, organic and limited resources such as manure.

Manure is either decomposed (only compost to use) or hot. Raw, undecomposed manure. That has quite a bit of Nitrogen involved but guess what? The plants won't be able to use that nitrogen until after decomposition. The little dudes that do the decomposition only use nitrogen for 'food' for 'energy'...and they get it first before plants, before soil organisms who eat only decomposed organic matter are able to have food. Plants make their own food. They are never ever 'fed' nutrients because they make their own via photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is a chemistry LAB taking nitrogen from the soil, phosphorous, potassium, bits of boron, magnesium, manganese, iron, sulfur, calcium, zinc and at least 6 or 7 other elements to use in that lab to make carbohydrates the plant uses for repair, growth and reproduction. Raw manure can kill your plants. Compost is rarely sterilized so should not be used in pots or planters in the sterilized potting soil.

Compost is only used for the garden in the ground like mine where one has balance of organisms both beneficial and the prey/baddie insects, bacteria, fungus that without the beneficials will cause major problems for potted plants.

I do this once. Once only, not every year. I will never plant in the hard cold undisturbed ground. This No Till fad is totally nuts. My soil is very very happy whether it is volcanic pumice, a nice loam soil or 'caliche' clay (that can be made into bricks and when wet turns into a slippery snot).

raised beds early spring with mostly potatoes

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