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I am just finishing building a 42' raised garden in the backyard, and need to fill it with about 10 yards of some premium organic soil.  Does anyone know of a quality and reputable source?

 

At our last house I also built a raised garden, and simply had 9 yards of the 'sandy loam' from Pioneer delivered.  It was lousy soil, and the vegetable garden yield was pretty pathetic.  This time around if I'm going to pour my heart, soul, and sweat into my garden, I want to make sure I only fill it with the best soil!

 

I know that Singh Farms sells it by the bag, but not sure by the truckload.  I've also been in touch with a couple outfits on Craigslist that claim to sell a 'premium organic mix' claiming to contain worm castings and guano and other good stuff, but I have no idea how reputable these guys are.  Prices seem to range between $65/yard up-to well over $100/yard.

 

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

3/17/2016:  I got a great referral from Greg Peterson (www.UrbanFarm.org):  "Always get the Premium Potting Soil from Western Organics.  Best stuff I have found.  602-269-5757 - Tell them Greg Peterson sent you.  It runs around $33 a yard and is great quality."

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Hi SkinnyBytes,

There was a recent discussion on this forum about where to buy soil: http://www.phoenixpermaculture.org/forum/topics/where-is-the-best-p...

I have purchased compost (not garden soil) from Singh Farms by the truckload in years past, but it is BYOT - they do not deliver.  You may want to buy garden soil and then enrich it with a good quality compost. 

Congratulations on that new garden bed and get that compost bin going!

HL

I just bought a scoop of garden soil from Singh's for 60 bucks.  They have compost, screened fines, and garden soil now.  They actually gave me a full truck bed which was more than I asked for.

Thanks!  I had come across the recent post about bulk soil in the west valley, but most of the suggestions indicated using Pioneer.  I used the Pioneer sandy loam for my last garden, and it was really just sand and dirt with some compost mixed in; not what I would consider a 'premium' garden mix.

 

I found a farm in San Tan Valley that offers a premium garden mix, but at over $100/yd it is pushing me over my $1k budget.

http://phoenix.craigslist.org/evl/grd/4309904480.html

 

I found another on CL that claims to offer a premium garden mix at a much more affordable $65/yd.  

http://phoenix.craigslist.org/nph/grd/4268381677.html

 

The stuff sounds perfect, but these days you have to be leery of what some stranger on Craigslist says is 'Premium Organic' mix; they could just mix some dirt, steer compost and sewage sludge and call it 'Organic', and next thing you know you've got a smelly heap of dung in your backyard and nothing grows in it  ;-)

 

I also found there are some commercial companies in the area, but I think they only sell by the bag through retail channels.

http://gro-well.com/contact/

 

I was hoping someone knows of a reputable farm that I can get some premium garden mix for a raised garden (besides Pioneer).  In the meantime, I'm waiting to hear back from Singh Farms, and perhaps I'll rent a truck and pick it up myself.

from another board:

http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/azgard/msg0112362411949.html?2

Where in the valley are you located?  I happen to like Pioneer sandy loam but also use a place in Sunnyslope....can't remember the name right now.  Are you near Sunnyslope?

Thanks!  I'm out in the east valley in Gilbert.  Since 10yards is a full dump truck full, I'm hoping to have it delivered.  Although, if I have to I'll rent a truck and make several trips if I find a good source.

Thats it SkinnyBytes.

The sunnyslope location you're talking about Mary is probably Preach Building Supply on Hatcher around 15th avenue. I use them for dirt and sand but have never tried their soil mix.

That's it Steve.  Thanks.

This is an interesting conversation (as always with soils) and I often wonder what people are envisioning when they are looking for a premium organic garden soil. I think what is really very common with buying bulk soils to fill a large area is that there is still a lot of processing going on in the soil so it isn't always the best environment for vegetables. 

AZ soil is actually a very good balance of minerals, it is just organic matter that we lack the most. We have used Singh Farms compost (the one type that many consider unfinished compost due to the larger bits of material) but only did a 3 to 1 ratio. 3 parts native soil to 1 part Singh per Ken's recommendation. While other people have had mixed results, we had a really great growing season. I must also point out that this was done in sunken beds rather than raised. 

It is exciting to see that other people in the valley are offering compost on CL, that means there are more and more people building soils out there, and that is always a great thing. We have only used our own compost after that initial infusion of Singh compost. We collect coffee grounds at a local coffee shop and the baristas always ask if we sell our compost. We can't, as soon as the compost is ready, it goes into the gardens and we use it all. Compost is KING! I hope this bit of info is helpful in the quest for great growing mediums :)

 Ericka - I have to agree with you.  Just add some organic matter to our soils, otherwise they are pretty awesome.  In fact, the most nutrient dense foods in the world (as measured with a brix meter) are grown in drylands.

I, too, started off with Ken Singh's mix but added it in too high a ratio and got some nitrogen leaching (yellowing leaves) the first season.  However, from then on out, it was great.  I've made my own compost ever since then.  I see Don Titmus is teaching a class on compost soon: Feb 19th compost class

Soils are kept "active" (microbes, bacteria, fungi, bugs) through interactions with organic matter, water and exudates from plant roots amongst other things.  Because of our climate, holding moisture in our soil is key - hence the efficiency of sunken beds.  Sunken beds also serve another function, they naturally harvest nutrients in them like leaves, which blow in and tend to remain there and break down into rich humus.

A cheaper alternative to buying compost or premium soil is to build a "Berkeley Method" compost pile.  This is an 18 day compost pile that will give you a cubic yard of finished material.  We will build one of these during the PDC class I'm teaching when we get to the "soils" section.  (I'll post pics here).  There are several videos on how to do this on YouTube.  You can use materials that are easy to scavenge in your average neighborhood, like shredded paper, woodchips and leaves for the "carbon" material and kitchen waste (or similar from grocery store produce sections - ask the produce manager about this), coffee grounds and green waste (NOT Bermuda grass) as the "nitrogen" sources. 

Here's an awesome breakdown on how to do this:  18 Day compost

Keep us posted on what you do!

Best,

Jen

I can see that I have a LOT to learn :-)  I'll try to attend the compost class on the 19th, since it's right up the road here in Mesa.

I guess since this will be an 18 inch raised garden, I was imagining that I would use a more soft, airy, nutrient dense mixture similar to a "square foot gardening' blend that contains little or no actual 'soil' in it.  I would also till some compost right into the underlying native soil bed to give the roots a little extra reach.

I'll keep you posted as the project unfolds.  I'll have the composite raised beds finished this weekend, and plan to have them filled next week.

Thanks!

Hey SkinnyBites:

Trust me, it's a learning process - I'm experimenting to this day!  I still have two raised beds in my backyard - they were my first two beds when I started my veggie garden in 2007.  I keep them solely to compare how they do with my sunken beds in terms of water use (raised beds use about 5-8 x more water according to my measurements), microclimate (raised beds tend to heat up more in our climate) etc. 

Another thing we'll be doing in the PDC class is building a wicking bed - a type of raised bed that uses water sparingly and is less affected by heat.  I'll get pictures of that too and post them (probably in May).

I love sunken beds for many reasons (conserve water, build soil, provide cooling microclimate), however, as I get older, I find bending down to be more difficult.  Wicking beds are probably the next best kind of bed for our climate.  

Keep a ton of "before" and "in progress" photos.  I always regret not taking more.  You never realize what your first garden bed may lead to!  =)

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