Getting some new supplies for the garden today, couple questions for the community:

cloxchulanthevegginator

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I'll try to be breif:

Dirt - So I need to refill my beds to make up for the lost/compressed basically peat moss. Does it make more sense to refill it with a couple bags of dirt mix? My thinking is if I'm trying to "grow my soil" from this point forward I basically only need to be putting in more soil and amendments, and use peat moss only when I'm noticing water retention is bad.
Mulch - Is there a difference between a "cedar mix" mulch vs normal mulch? The only real different I see on the bags are water retention (Cedar mix) and another, cheaper mix claims to last a year (cheaper brand). I'm thinking about going with the cedar because of my hot climate, ideally anything that can help my soil retain moisture should be a feature of my garden lol. does `
Seeds - does anyone know about growing tea leaves? I'd really like to try my hand at that.
* Another experienment I'm thinking about doing is growing some citronella to see if it will keep the mosquitoes away, not sure if this will work but It looks like I can grow a couple in some planters and place them around our patio and that will discourage the mosquitoes.
Worm Farm - I'm going to give these a try and was thinking about ordering from:
  • Uncle Jims - I just hear good things about this brand in the gardening community.
  • Texas Worm Ranch - I like the idea that they have classes, and I can buy prepped bins from them for 65$ a piece. so it would be a win-win for me to be able to do their course and leave with worm bins educated and ready to experiment.

and then this time around I'm planning on messing with pot-grown plants and drip irrigation. I'm still research but this time around I plan on getting drip, new mulch, amendments, some containers, and more soil for the bed. Kinda like I said in my last lessons post I'm going to focus on buying things that automate or facilitate automation of my garden and then supplies to help me experiment.
 

Mandy Onderwater

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If your bed has already been filled and just needs a top up, I would often recommend digging in compost/fertiliser. If it has sunk really far a combination of compost/fertiliser and soil.
I would say it depends on preferences and situation. I know my pots do well with soil top-up as compost at this point and time would be too much, and they don't need that amount of nutrients. But my older, larger pots that have gone for multiple seasons would do better topped up mostly with compost.

Before I start, I only have knowledge from the council near us; no practical knowledge about this. There are differences in mulch. Some woods can be somewhat water repelling, meaning your soil might actually turn out dryer. Also, wood could absorb water, meaning not all the water would enter the soil. In some cases this is what people want - in some cases it can be bad. It can also depend on what specie of wood you use as some woods are acidic.
I believe cedar mulch is a long-lasting mulch as it takes relatively long to break down. On top of that I hear it's somewhat bacteria and mold repellant.

Don't have knowledge about tea leaves, sorry. I do hear that some plants can have great mosquito repelling effects! That does not mean they stay fully away... but it can help minimize the many. Mark mentioned in one of his videos that his lemon grass had such benefits as well.

Good luck with the worm farms - I don't know but am interested to hear more about this as well!

How has the garden been going of late? :)
 

Grandmother Goose

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From everything I've ever learned about the topic, citronella as a mosquito repellent does somewhat work at repelling mosquitos when in a highly concentrated form. It's an oil that can be extracted from citronella plants that repels mosquitos, not the plant itself. But the plant does look nice and if you know how to extract and use that oil...??? Apparently growing a large field of them does have some effect though, but not many people have a yard large enough to create a literal field of citronella. I've seen claims that geranium plants, lemongrass, mint, and marigolds can repel mosquitos if you have enough of them around, but I've yet to ever find any evidence of this. I haven't grown lemongrass myself, but mint and marigolds never worked for me, in fact I used to be bitten more often when standing in my mint and marigold patches.

That being said, experiment away! There's a lot of different species of mosquitos, the ones in your area might be better deterred by various plants, unlike the ones in my part of the world.

Being on the other side of the planet I have no idea about any of the products or stores in your area, sorry. I've found sugarcane mulch to be the best and cheapest stuff available in my area, and it breaks down into compost in the garden quite well, so I don't need to do much besides keep topping it up. Given what I have to work with, that's one blessing in my garden's favour. It sounds like you have a better selection of garden products where you are. I've concluded that most people in my town don't know much about gardening. No one stocks worms of any kind except for a couple of places that stock fish bait, and mention worm farming to people here and they respond with, "oh, you go fishing a lot?" :facepalm:. And that's just the start of a long list of potential complaints I could make about my town with regards to gardening. :ROFL:
 

DThille

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As with Mandy’s suggestion, I’m curious as to how much your beds have compacted / sunk. There are at least two elements that can be at play - settling, which is physical, and breakdown of organic matter, which is the composting process. I’ve become a believer in needing living soil to grow well. Of course some of that can come from the soil you have and the microbial life moving upward into whatever you add. Depending what you have, my concern nowadays is about source / material. As per the living soil piece, I don’t want anything that has been sterilized, although I understand the appeal. In a sense, I’m more concerned about chemical residue. If I were getting from a garden centre, I’d consider a soil mix that contains worm castings as that will help with fertility and life forms. Compost is trickier as it may or may not have the life you want and it is ideal if the compost added is from a relatively local source as the species and mix of microorganisms vary by location.

As for mulch, I’m not sure I understand about moisture. Mulch sits on top, so I don’t want it retaining moisture in and of itself. However, I want to apply it thickly enough that it cools the soil below it and inhibits evaporation as well as being something organic that will compost itself in time.

I’m too late with this for your shopping trip, but hopefully this opinion helps folks think about soil amendments and mulch.
 

FarmerMark613

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If I have a lot to fill then bags are expensive and going and picking up a truck load, or you can rent a trailer for about $20 a day (cubic yard usually around $40) but if I’m just topping off I will buy bags of compost (it’s black gold) or manure (steer, cow, chicken)

I use chop straw as mulch it breaks down, blocks weed seeds and worms eat it (I can pull it back and worms are between straw and soil

i have 8 raised beds and have bought over 2000 European worms from Uncle Jim’s to divide and add into each. I have also incorporated my worm bins from my garage into each of my raised beds

This summer I have bought some grow bags from Amazon to try instead of pots
 
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Clara

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I can speak to the worm farm thing having had one for several years. Worms in a box are a bit of a waste of time and energy if I'm being honest. You're better off to foster the worm population directly into your garden beds where they can breed without restrictions. Worms will only breed until critical mass for the size of container they are in, worm farms are therefore a limited solution that takes months on end to compost anything, although it is faster than regular composting. The boxes are expensive and so are the worms. You probably already have similar varieities in your soil. Marketing worm farms was a clever business idea but it's just a way to sell ice to eskimo's. If you really can't resist then make a garden bed in the shade, put a piece of carpet over the top of it and use that for your worms. They will breed like crazy in it. No contraptions needed. Boxed worms do not produce worm juice in any meaningful quantity to bother bottling it. It takes months.

Now the tea leaves. Most camellia varieties are edible and can make tea. Camellia sinensis is just the most popular variety for both black and green tea. Your best bet for that is to buy a camellia sinensis plant from a nursery that stocks it, then multiply the plants with cuttings. If you already have a camellia growing in your garden roast the tips of it, and make some tea. If you like the flavour then you already have a 'tea' plant.
 
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