Raised bed soil quality

Asked February 15, 2019, 12:14 PM EST

I've been using raised beds for several years to grow veggies in the summer. I used to fertilize every spring with a 2-2-2 organic chicken manure but over time the soil got too "hot" and if affected my yield. The past 2 years I mixed in plain peat moss to tame it down a bit, but then this past summer most of my tomatoes and quite a few bell peppers suffered from blossom rot. I understand that lime should help the rot, but I'm also wondering if I should be adding nutrients of some kind now so that they can fully leach into the soil before planting time arrives?

Multnomah County Oregon soil raised bed gardening tomatoes

1 Response

Thanks for your question. Although you're already probably past this stage, here is an OSU Extension article on the topic of raised bed gardens generally: https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/fs270_1.pdf

As to soils (and I appreciate this is long), here is an article explaining soil texture, acidity and soil amendments, whether in raised bed gardens or native soil: http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/EM063E/EM063E.pdf

Although blossom end rot has a soil acidity component to it, many gardeners experience this problem more due to inconsistent watering than calcium uptake. Here is another article that explains the phenomenon: http://extension.missouri.edu/phelps/documents/Horticulture_News/BlossomEndRot.pdf

S, you are correct that applying chicken manure that has not been adequately seasoned (from 6 to 12 months) adds too much nitrogen to the soil, and can cause soil acidity. The addition of fully aged organic material will provide a balanced, time release of nutrients to your garden. I suggest you get your soil tested by a testing lab before applying anything more. A & L Western Agricultural Labs has a modest fee for the testing and recommendations, and you can find their information here: http://extension.missouri.edu/phelps/documents/Horticulture_News/BlossomEndRot.pdf

I hope this is helpful. Good luck!