raised beds

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by blhmabbott, Aug 15, 2004.

  1. blhmabbott

    blhmabbott We're gettin' there!

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    Well my wife and I just finished 2 out of 6 raised beds.
    Me (being quite skeptical) mainly built the things to keep mt dw happy!
    But she, being very atimate and optomistic about them assured me that they will work, and that we will be eating fresh veggies all winter long.
    Now this remains to be seen........ but I hope she is right.
    If so I will never,never,never till another garden :haha: My dw is very pleased with them and will soon be posting pictures of our handywork. So pleased with them that she couldn't wait for all of them to be finished and went ahead and planted them today.
    She planted lettuce, turnips, radishes,carrots,rutabega's,broccoli, cauliflower,and brussel sprouts. All this in about 48 sq. ft.
    anyway I hope that we are not the only ones who do this.
    Any hints or advice would be greatly appriciated.
    Brett
     
  2. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    I did my very first raised bed this year (the soil here is rock and boulders, with a little dirt mixed in --- :rolleyes: ) ... and I LOVE IT!!

    I ended up doing a kind of combination raised bed - lasagna - intensive gardening thing.

    I also made it bunny proof (which actually work :confused: ) by --- well, it's got kind of a maze going around it that a bunny would have trouble navigating.

    It's not that big --- maybe 5' x 2-3'? --- but it successfully grew seven heirloom tomatoes, a mess of echinacea, thyme, sage, and Armenian basil, and I started some winter savory in it, which i now can't find, thanks to all the tomatoes and basil. Outside the bed, there's another four tomato plants and my domestic grapes.

    I'm hoping for next year to do one for my bulbs and another huge one where the barn is (if I can ever get the neighbor's horses out of the barn so i can finish tearing it down!)

    All in all, I think raised beds are the perfect solution for me, at least. :D
     

  3. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Once you have your raised beds established, don't walk in them! And you'll want to rotate crops, use lots of compost, etc. Your wife is so right about raised bed gardening. My mom has been doing it for 35+ years and her yeilds are terrific!

    My husband is skeptical about my plans for a raised bed garden, but he'll soon change his tune! I can't wait to get my garden going...it's driving me crazy! In Texas I had a small garden in the back yard, not really raised beds, but I treated it like raised beds. We rented a tiller and broke it up ONCE. After that I worked in all the compost I could get my hands on (lots of cow manure too). My husband just knew he would have to rent the tiller every year as the ground in our suburban Dallas home was hard as a rock. NOPE...I never let a foot touch the ground of my beds and could break it up with a hoe the next year. It was tiny, but I grew some great squash, peppers, tomatoes, onions and herbs in it.

    This is my husband in my first Texas garden:

    [​IMG]

    And the second year:

    [​IMG]
     
  4. katydidagain

    katydidagain Adventuress--Definition 2 Supporter

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    I have 5 4x6 beds approximately 22 years old. One is in herbs and the rest are growing (just a guestimate) 24 tomatoes, 8 okras, 4 summer squash, 10 hot peppers, some basil (tucked in), about 120 bean plants with ancient corn seeds between (3 grew!) and (vertically) 7 cantalopes (have 11 babies in various states of maturity now), 1 vining squash, 19 cucumbers and probably something I've forgotten. Looks like a jungle out there!

    Both sets of grandparents were farmers and I grew up on 3 acres but living in the city with restricted garden areas has been a good lesson. A limited arena means you can easily cover a small bed with a sheet for freak frosts and watering is concentrated to only where needed as is precious compost. Raised beds are the only way to go; even when I finally have land again, I will never waste space or time tilling! One of these days I'll post pictures...

    katy
     
  5. YuccaFlatsRanch

    YuccaFlatsRanch Well-Known Member Supporter

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    AHHHHHHH - converts to the mystical religion of the Raised Bed. Congrats to all who have disovered that gardening does not have to be back breaking. Raised beds are the BEST. Remember just keep adding to the bed each year. I go one better - I take all of my left over hay, straw, leaves etc and use them as mulch in the walkways between the beds in the garden. They compost in place and then are shoveled into the raised beds in the winter and they grow veggies the next year.
     
  6. blhmabbott

    blhmabbott We're gettin' there!

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    Heather here........

    Can I say I Told Him So yet? :p And he forgot to mention the spinach and beets I planted as well. I did the type of planting where you plant the quicker maturing veggies in with the longer maturing type (I can't think of the name of that style) so I was able to plant twice as much in each one.

    We were able to build them out of totally FREE materials, which I think is the best part! Brett was weedeating along the fence and found piles of timbers stacked up there and raised beds was the first thought through my mind :D . We had to use some free pieces of 2/4's we found for some of the end pieces, so it's not "professional" looking, but we did it ourselves, it's going to produce for us this winter (our grocery budget is SOOOOO tight!), and all it required was some time. And let's face it, we have more time than money! :haha:

    I even painted them white since we're in town and Brett was concerned about keeping the yard looking nice. And the paint was free! An exterior latex paint that we found in the shed when we bought this place about 6 weeks ago. And, like any good homesteader, I already had plenty of seeds saved!

    I have to brag on Brett for a sec. We needed 6" pole barn nails to nail some of these timbers together, but we're just to cheap to spend $12/box on them. So he had the bright idea of countersinking screws (which we already had). There for awhile it was looking like we were going to have to wait a couple weeks to finish the beds, and then he had this great idea and we were able to get these two finished in a weekend. All about the attitude of working with what you've got! I'm going to finish working on them as much as I can today. We have to buy the dirt to put in them because we've only got red clay here, so I'll have to wait on that. But I've got all those veggies planted already in only two of the beds and will have room for succession planting as well! Life is good!
    Heather
     
  7. blhmabbott

    blhmabbott We're gettin' there!

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    Oh....forgot to mention that they are 4'x8' so we can reach out the middle on each side......so no walking in them! :D I started a compost pile as soon as we moved in from the yard clippings and have convinced Brett to build me one for the kitchen scraps (since I don't have my chickens anymore :( ) so that stuff will be going on also. We even moved our compost pile from our other house when we built this one!! Daddy was so proud of me! :haha: :haha: Said he raised his girl right (I was raised by Carla Emery's book lol).

    And beautiful pictures Ravenlost!! Thank you so much for sharing those! Brett was amazed when he saw those squash plants.....oh, he wants to know if you remember how many squash plants that was because he's never seen squash that tall before ( ;) ).

    Heather
     
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  8. Kev

    Kev Member

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    hi all,
    Just a couple of quick questions, Did you remove the sod under your beds? and how tall are they or doesn't it matter?
    Thanks Kev
     
  9. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I had four squash plants that year. When I pulled them up after they stopped producing they were over six feet tall!

    I don't know why, but I have always been able to grow any type squash. I just wish I was as good at getting my family to eat them!
     
  10. katydidagain

    katydidagain Adventuress--Definition 2 Supporter

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    Ken,
    I've done it both ways, kinda.

    1. My baby beds in the city were built with 1x6 decking lumber. (Yeah, pressure treated but I live on a busy road so what's a little arsenic along with the emissions? I still don't spray or fertilize and have praying manti galore.) They were laid over negligible sod growing in white clay and, after 22 years of amending with leaf mulch (heaping), now have black gold 18" deep or more; the paths are woodchips which get recycled into beds every few years then get "rechipped".

    2. Having nothing but a cranky ancient tiller to turn 1/2 acre, my Bambi desecrated herb farm at the folks' house involved moving low, covering with 7-8 sheets of newspaper and then topping with 6" to 8" of wood chips. Not really raised but the same concept. Easy pull weeds few and far between.

    After abandoning the deer haven for 10 years, I've recently been reclaiming my parents' 3 acres and woodchipping garden/specimen tree areas. Those I weeded well or didn't but laid newspaper over first are not in need of weeding after 2 months; the rest need a day or more of selective plucking. Can you tell I'm an "old" newshound?

    Bumping in hopes that the experts answer. :)

    katy
     
  11. blhmabbott

    blhmabbott We're gettin' there!

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    We didn't dig up the ground or put anything down to cover the grass. We just dumped the dirt in over the grass. Probably was a mistake, and I will definately put down some kind of barried in the other beds. I've never built, or used, raised beds before so was just going by this plan in my head lol. I've got some that are about 8 inches deep for the lettuce, radishes, spinach, etc. In the spring, these will get another timber or two added for extra height, more dirt, and then replanted for spring and summer. We also have some that are about 1 foot deep for the root crops....rutabags, turnips, beets, etc. and those will also get another timber or two in height in the spring.

    I got the garlic bed done day before yesterday while Brett was at work. And he finished putting the rest of the beds together last night, so we have 6 now that I can play in! :D

    If I can figure out how to take and post some pictures, I'll try and get that done today. They're not as fancy as some, but we can't help but be proud of them :)
    Heather
     
  12. Karen

    Karen Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Being kind of set in my gardening ways, and since it took me most of my life to even accept wide row gardening, let alone to even consider raised beds; well, I was the worlds biggest skeptic. Life ended up making the decision for us. With severe arthritic knees and back, our raised beds are a God sent! We did till up the sod and spent the money to fill in with improved soil. Now we just add compost every year and have the finest soil you ever saw! Due to our physical limitations, ours are pretty high (a good 2 feet); but we figured it was a one time expense and worth every penny. We just keep adding a few more raised beds every year and the expense is more manageable. The great thing for us is that if our limitations get worst and we either can't bend at all, or when I eventually get have to go to a wheelchair, we can always go "up" and both of us will still be able to garden.

    I am amazed at how high the yields are and how much more you can fit into raised beds. With the improved fluffy soil, there is nothing to weeding. Drip irrigation is also a breeze because it can stay put year to year or adjusted with very little change and effort.

    Why I fought the raised bed theory is beyond me! :eek: I could kick myself a hundred times over because we should have done this years ago!!! If you have any doubt at all, just try one. You'll become a believer before the first bud is on the vine!
     
  13. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

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    Hubby built me a raised bed of a different type. Since I've got a couple things that cause joint problems, and we know it'll get worse as I get older, he built mine out of cement block. It's 4 by 20 feet, and is at the same height as a chair, so I can sit on the edge to plant, weed, or gather.

    He just built it over this winter, and we only did tomatoes in it this year, but it's been lovely not having to bend for those cherry tomatoes.

    The rest of the garden will going in the ground, for now, and he'll build me more raised beds if I want them. We just have to figure out how much space is really needed to grow food for two!

    Meg :)
     
  14. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'm also a big fan of laying a layer of newspaper down. Most definitely helps keep down weeds and grass!
     
  15. jassytoo

    jassytoo Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We've had raised beds for many years and love them. We have 4 beds each 4 foot wide and 20 foot long. That way it is easy to reach into the middle without stepping inside. When we put them in we lined them with layers of newpaper then put good soil and compost on top. Each year we put on more compost. The veg. grow great and are easy to harvest, they just pull right out of the ground. We have a hoop system set up so we can cover the plants when we need to. We put landscape fabric in the walkways around the beds and covered that with bark, it seems to help keep slugs off the plants. We have a big slug problem here.
     
  16. blhmabbott

    blhmabbott We're gettin' there!

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    Question: Do ya'll find that you have to water your beds more than a "normal" garden? I've had to water mine everyday since we built them because they dry out so quickly. Maybe I'm just used to the red clay I've been gardening in for the last 20 years. It doesn't drain and just turns to goo. Is the constant watering a good thing ie, they have good drainage? Or a bad thing like TOO much drainage??
    Heather
     
  17. DayBird

    DayBird Big Bird

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    Use rain barrels with your home's guttering system. Attach a faucet to the bottom of the barrel and run a hose to your garden area. Use soaker hoses in each of the beds. When they need water, turn on the faucet and let the soaker hoses run for a while. You'll need to get the ones that will work with low pressure. Make sure to put mosquito dunks in the barrels.
     
  18. blhmabbott

    blhmabbott We're gettin' there!

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    What is a mosquito dunk? Thanks for the idea....I'll have to check into that!
    Heather
     
  19. DayBird

    DayBird Big Bird

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    A mosquito dunk is a little donut looking thing that is impregnated with the bacteria Bascillus thuringeninsomethingorother. There are lots and lots and lots of naturally occuring strains of this bacteria, each targetting a specific pests. Some for grubs, some for caterpillars. The ones in mosquito dunks target mosquito larvae and are perfectly safe for you or any bird or rodent or any pets to consume. We've used them for years and never have problems with mosquitos.

    I highly recommend rainbarrels. Use them on every roofed structure you have.
     
  20. gardengirl1021

    gardengirl1021 Member

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    "We have to buy the dirt to put in them because we've only got red clay here, so I'll have to wait on that. But I've got all those veggies planted already in only two of the beds and will have room for succession planting as well! Life is good!
    Heather"

    Before you truck in soil--I recently attended workshop 'Homesteading from Scratch with Permaculture" at a NOFA New England conference, and this amazing homesteader, Susana Lein from Kentucky, MADE topsoil on her rocky mountaintop--she had NOTHING to grow in, but by layering LOts of cardboard, which she got from furniture stores, with other natural and FREE FREE FREE ingredients which I can't remember! she, I think within a year, MADE topsoil. I am trying to find my notes which had her exact "recipie" for making topsoil from nothing--and she did NOT till first. . . and will post back when I find it. . . here is her farm's website, which I have not visited, but maybe she has a link to her email if her "recipie" which I gather is quite popular, is not on site:
    http://www.localharvest.org/farms/M5606

    She has made this beautful and productive homestead using VERY little capital, and many "found" resources (TRASH).