With three new cedar beds ready to go, there was just one problem. Well, two problems, but I’ll get to the other one later. They were empty! In order to keep the probably contaminated subsoil separate from the growing medium in the beds, I first laid down a rubber pond liner as an impermeable barrier. Each of the beds is 12 inches deep, which is plenty deep for any crop I planned to plant.

Filling these beds was going to be EXPENSIVE! 32 cubic yards of organic soil (for each of the larger beds) is costly. I enquired about getting an inexpensive delivery of leaf mulch from my local yard waste recycler. But alas, my urban house doesn’t have a driveway to dump a truckload on, and the my customer serivce rep told me the city doesn’t really want the stuff dumped in the street. So with about three trips to my neighborhood Lowe’s filling my surprisingly roomy Honda Fit, I had full boxes. I used four 1.5-yard bags of peat moss, 12 40-pound bags of organic composted manure and four 40-pound bags of sand for each of the large beds, and half those amounts for the small bed.

The mix proved to be great for most root crops, leaf crops, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. Zucchini, cucumbers and cauliflower didn’t do all that well, and I have a few theories on the reasoning, which I’ll discuss later on.

The soil has compacted a bit during the past year, so in addition to turning it all over, I’ll add in more composted manure and probably a bag or so of peat moss to each bed before I plant this spring.