With the lack of access to my back yard to get soil or any machinery down there I decided a few years ago to build a down and dirty wicking bed by converting my poorly performing raised garden bed to a wicking bed. But I'd be filling it with just dirt and manure as opposed to the perlite/sand/vermiculite/compost/coir combination that seems to be standard media components in wicking beds. I then planted two tomato plants. One in the standard wicking bed and one in my ghetto one. I didn't expect much to come of it but the results were in stark contrast to each other.
My Mel's Mix recipe is basically coir vermiculite and compost along with a little bit of potting mix and composted manure. My experimental bed is filled with dirt/ clay and the top 30cm is just layered fresh horse manure and sugar cane mulch with some newspaper. So anyone thinking of what soil to put in their raised garden bed. I highly recommend just manure and sugar cane mulch and newspaper. Pretty much a lasagne no dig type setup.
Full details here.
Naturally you need to top up the beds as the manure and sugar cane breaks down but that's par for the course with most garden beds.
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