Adding vermiculite this fall or spring with cover crops in compacted raised beds??

Asked September 19, 2017, 9:10 AM EDT

Good morning, I have raised beds and when I installed them I purchased raised bed compost locally and over the years it has become very compact. I would like information on the procedure and order of making it more fertile and what cover crops to use. I have used Fava beans in the past and they are easy to cut down and fork in the soil in spring. I wonder if I should dig in vermiculite or ?? Now before cover crops or wait till spring when I cut back recommended cover crop and dig all into the raised beds then. I also believe I use to much fertilizers so could you recommend a simple organic mixture to add to my beds to increase yield. Joy in the garden, Jeffrey Bellamy (Grants Pass)

Josephine County Oregon cover crops horticulture

1 Response

I hope your raised bed contains a porous soil purchased for raised beds (usually not native soil unless your soil happens to be exceptional). Adding compost to that yearly will help drainage as well as enrich the soil. You can add perlite too.
If you are going to plant a cover crop, that should help alleviate some of the compaction. Compacted soil can come from hard-driving winter rains and snow build up. (You should not be walking in your beds.) If you are planting a cover crop, then fork the compost and perlite into the soil this fall. Otherwise, leave the amendments on top of the soil to protect it from rain and snow, and fork it in in the spring.
The following publication has information on fertilizing raised beds, page 5 has information on the type of soil to use in raised beds and the types of fertilizer you should use for heavy-feeding vegetables.
https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/fs270_1.pdf