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Potting soil and nematodes in a raised bed, what to do?

Jon Biddenback
8 years ago
last modified: 8 years ago

My fiancee and I discovered her mystery sprouts are tomato plants, and she wants to plant them in a roughly 1x8-foot raised bed beside the porch. We were clearing the weeds and junk (including broken glass and a freaking pipe wrench) from the bed, and discovered two interesting things.

First, the soil is better than the clay elsewhere, but odd. From the vermiculite and peat moss and general light crumbly feel of it, I'm guessing a previous tenant dumped 2-4 inches of potting soil in there, then abandoned it for years, and the weed roots and bugs have been gradually mixing it into the solid clay below. I expect this bed might need some amendment, but without the budget for a soil test, I'm not sure what I might try.

Second, while that bed is teeming with bug life, I've spotted zero earthworms, and several of those hammer-headed nematodes that are said to be earthworm predators. Is there anything I can do besides just picking out those I find, to reduce or eliminate nematode numbers, and bring the earthworm population up?

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