I plan to plant fruit trees, primarily apple, apricot, and peach, in a raised...

Asked September 6, 2020, 11:07 PM EDT

I plan to plant fruit trees, primarily apple, apricot, and peach, in a raised bed. What are my best options for obtaining a growing medium from a store like Home Depot or Lowes? I will probably use raised beds for strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. Will a similar growing medium work well for them?

Allegheny County Pennsylvania

4 Responses

Thanks for your question. I need a bit more information to properly assess your situation. Exactly what type of raised beds are you considering? For example, will they be located on existing soil and if so, what are its characteristics and has this soil been tested? How deep can you make them? How large? You will need at least 4 trees; while there are some self-pollinating apples, most require two types to pollinate properly. How do you plan on placing the trees and the raspberry and blueberry bushes? This is important for several reasons, one being that some different fruits require soils that have different pH values (measure of acidity). So ideally you need to plant the different groups of plants in different beds with soil that has different characteristics. If you could provide some pictures, or even a schematic, of your proposed set-up, it will be easier to determine what soil compositions you will need. You should be able to buy the components at any garden center or box store and then mix the appropriate combinations.

I forgot to say anything about the raised beds. At the corners, there will be concrete blocks slotted to hold 2x6 boards, stacked two high (5.5”+5.5”) secured by a two foot 1/.2” metal rod. I’m inclined to use fir-pine-spruce instead of pressure treated wood although I would probably stain and seal it to get a few more years usage. Ultimately, if the espaliered trees are successful, I would replace the wood with brick or stone.

Thanks for your response. From the dimensions you provided, the raised beds you plan will have a depth of less than one foot. It is recommended that fruit trees have a planting bed of at least 2, preferably 3 feet of top soil This means you should make sure that the ground under the raised beds is of good quality and loose enough not to inhibit root growth. For the raised bed itself, a combination of 70% garden soil and 30% compost is a place to start. Both of these can be purchased at a garden center or box store. However, it is advisable that you get a soil test done once you have made up the mixture. The fruits you plan to grow all have pH ranges that are best for them, so you need to know where you are starting from in order to amend appropriately. The soil test information is provided at this link https://extension.psu.edu/soil- testing. The cost is $9.00 per crop; however, you can get the same sample evaluated for different crops by paying a $2.00 rerun fee. Fill out a form for each crop, and for the additional crops, write $2 rerun fee next to the crop number. If you have any question, you can call the lab at the number on the form or send another email here.. I have spoken to them about this and they can clarify any issue. What you should receive will be recommendations for each crop as to amendments that will provide the appropriate pH and nutrient levels.

Thank you, Virginia. You’ve been a great help.