pennsylvania
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Please Recommend A Raised Bed System

Hi! I'm planning my first organic veggie garden and am looking for recommendations on a raised bed system. I was going to use a galvanized steel tank but am concerned about zinc.

Due to limited time, I am thinking about getting a raised system (garden on a table) to make it a bit easier to get started. I prefer a system that has a table/legs to elevate it from the ground.

Has anybody here used a specific raised bed system that they would recommend? I'm looking for something that will provide quality and some depth to be able to grow carrots and onions.

Thanks in advance for your help and time! There is so much information on gardening that it becomes a bit overwhelming!

Susan W
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1st question....why set high on table?
If you want a smallish starter garden, I suggest a 4 x 4 or 4 x 8 type on the ground. There are several threads on this type of system. Now, if there are physical limitations, another story that can be addressed.
Hope this helps, not hampers!
Have fun!
Susan

pennsylvania
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Susan W wrote:1st question....why set high on table?
If you want a smallish starter garden, I suggest a 4 x 4 or 4 x 8 type on the ground. There are several threads on this type of system. Now, if there are physical limitations, another story that can be addressed.
Hope this helps, not hampers!


The physical limitations are based on the fact that we don't want to do anything with the physical yard at this time. The soil also has alot of clay and rock.

The table type would allow me to place it wherever and begin my adventure with gardening.

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ElizabethB
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I am an original square foot gardener. Love the system. Have been growing more veggies than I can use in a very small amount of space. Initial set up took some work but then so does any garden. Made a bed on saw horses for my niece who has CP and is confined to a wheel chair. She loves having her own garden!

Raised bed gardening has so many aspects. It can suit any space or environment. I have seen pics of raised bed roof gardens grown on high rise roof tops in Manhatten that would make a southerner drool!

I like square foot gardening.

http://www.squarefootgardening.com

If you like the idea get the book/s. I have both the first and second edition. The first edition has more plant spacing info. The second edition addresses vertical gardening in more detail and offers better garden lay out plans. I know there are some folks who do not like the square foot gardening idea. Oh well. At my age (60 - OMG :twisted: HOW DID THAT HAPPEN) I need to keep things simple. I get lots of produce from the least amount of space with the least amount of effort.

Happy gardening :!:
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

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Jardin du Fort
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Re: Please Recommend A Raised Bed System

pennsylvania wrote:I am thinking about getting a raised system (garden on a table) to make it a bit easier to get started. I prefer a system that has a table/legs to elevate it from the ground.


I can think of only two reasons to have a garden on a table. One is because the gardener has physical limitations (wheelchair?) and can not access a normal garden. Two is because the gardener lives in rented space and does want to or is not allowed to disturb the yard.

There is no good reason to have an elevated table garden if you own the property and have no physical limitations.

I have had in the past three raised bed gardens. They were loosely based on the "square foot garden" system, but highly modified. I dug out the paths onto the beds, ending with about 10" of elevation of the beds above the paths, plus mounding in the center of the 3 to 4' wide beds. I agree with you on starting small, since all three of my gardens got away from me back then. It will be easier to enlarge the garden as you gain experience than to reduce the garden and put it back to lawn.

If you are only planning on growing lettuce and leaf veggies, then a table garden would be OK. Most other veggies send down much deeper roots than a table garden can accommodate.

pennsylvania
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Re: Please Recommend A Raised Bed System

Jardin du Fort wrote:
pennsylvania wrote:I am thinking about getting a raised system (garden on a table) to make it a bit easier to get started. I prefer a system that has a table/legs to elevate it from the ground.


I can think of only two reasons to have a garden on a table. One is because the gardener has physical limitations (wheelchair?) and can not access a normal garden. Two is because the gardener lives in rented space and does want to or is not allowed to disturb the yard.

There is no good reason to have an elevated table garden if you own the property and have no physical limitations.

I have had in the past three raised bed gardens. They were loosely based on the "square foot garden" system, but highly modified. I dug out the paths onto the beds, ending with about 10" of elevation of the beds above the paths, plus mounding in the center of the 3 to 4' wide beds. I agree with you on starting small, since all three of my gardens got away from me back then. It will be easier to enlarge the garden as you gain experience than to reduce the garden and put it back to lawn.

If you are only planning on growing lettuce and leaf veggies, then a table garden would be OK. Most other veggies send down much deeper roots than a table garden can accommodate.


First round will be onions, peppers and carrots.

Poor, red clay soil with rocks combined with limited time and two kids are the main reason. I'd still like to grow some veggies and start the kids off this way.

pennsylvania
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ElizabethB wrote:I am an original square foot gardener. Love the system. Have been growing more veggies than I can use in a very small amount of space. Initial set up took some work but then so does any garden. Made a bed on saw horses for my niece who has CP and is confined to a wheel chair. She loves having her own garden!

Raised bed gardening has so many aspects. It can suit any space or environment. I have seen pics of raised bed roof gardens grown on high rise roof tops in Manhatten that would make a southerner drool!

I like square foot gardening.

http://www.squarefootgardening.com

If you like the idea get the book/s. I have both the first and second edition. The first edition has more plant spacing info. The second edition addresses vertical gardening in more detail and offers better garden lay out plans. I know there are some folks who do not like the square foot gardening idea. Oh well. At my age (60 - OMG :twisted: HOW DID THAT HAPPEN) I need to keep things simple. I get lots of produce from the least amount of space with the least amount of effort.

Happy gardening :!:


Thanks so much for the recommendation. I just ordered the book and look forward to reading it. It seems pretty straightforward and like a great place to start.

Thanks again!

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applestar
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How many plants are you thinking of growing?

If only a small number, it may be easier to plan in terms of "containers".

This post contains photos of my patio container peppers from last year:
http://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/v ... 121#258121

This thread contains photos of carrots grown in 1/2 whiskey barrel:
http://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/v ... hp?t=49015

Onions are relatively shallow-rooted so should be OK in containers as well. I grew leeks in a large container last year, and I have green onions growing inside all winter from onion bottoms planted in pots. :D

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rainbowgardener
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"Poor, red clay soil with rocks combined with limited time and two kids are the main reason. I'd still like to grow some veggies and start the kids off this way."

Those are great reasons to do raised beds. Still not particularly reasons to do table beds off the ground, which are much more expensive and difficult and prone to have the bottoms rotting out.

I have raised beds on top of my concrete patio. Make them deep enough and it doesn't matter what is under them. Just poke some drainage holes in to your clay before you put the bed on top of them.


Image

This was a fall photo after everything was finished.

Mine are made of 4x4" (treated) pine fence posts, sealed and they are in their 11th season.

Applestar's container suggestion also makes sense. I grow a ton of herbs in containers on my deck.

It is a wonderful gift you are giving your children, getting them interested in gardening and growing food!
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

pow wow
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I miss having a veggie garden in my backyard. I had to make room for the camper. This year one of the seed companies that I buy from is advertising a veggie trug. I ordered one yesterday. I haven't decided what to grow in it yet but am looking forward to some veggies this year. I'll put it on the cement pad in front of my greenhouse. If it works well, I'll buy or build another.

Image

pennsylvania
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Starting

Square Foot book is on the way. Is it ok to start seeds with basic, organic potting mix?

Susan W
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Just to throw out another possibility... I have containers, lots of them, and most are on pallets. I am using the side drive, back drive, back yard areas where there are roots, and one area that is a semi-ditch with heavy rains. The larger the container, the better moderation for temps and moisture, and you have more area (duh!).

If you peruse through the threads will get many ideas on dirt to use.
Have fun!
Susan

pennsylvania
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Susan W wrote:Just to throw out another possibility... I have containers, lots of them, and most are on pallets. I am using the side drive, back drive, back yard areas where there are roots, and one area that is a semi-ditch with heavy rains. The larger the container, the better moderation for temps and moisture, and you have more area (duh!).

If you peruse through the threads will get many ideas on dirt to use.


The container thing is definitely a nice option. I'm going to keep that in mind!!!
Right now I'm looking at
http://www.vegtrug.com/

or

http://www.gronomics.com/products_elevated.html

On one the depth goes from shallow to 19 inches and the gronomics it is 10" across the whole table. Can I grow peppers, carrots, onions, green beans in 10"? I guess I'm wondering what I would be limited to with 10".

Thanks again for everybody's help!

pow wow
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I bought my veg trug through vesseys seeds if you want to compare prices.

pennsylvania
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pow wow wrote:I bought my veg trug through vesseys seeds if you want to compare prices.


Do you use the square-foot gardening technique with the vegtrug?

pow wow
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Hi, I just ordered it so what exactly I plant is still on the drawing board. It will be against the garage in front of my greenhouse so I'm thinking, because the way the trug is shaped, that I would plant snow peas at the back and build a little trellis for them. A root veggie in the middle and some kind of leaf veggie or perhaps herbs in the front. Not sure yet.

pennsylvania
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pow wow wrote:Hi, I just ordered it so what exactly I plant is still on the drawing board. It will be against the garage in front of my greenhouse so I'm thinking, because the way the trug is shaped, that I would plant snow peas at the back and build a little trellis for them. A root veggie in the middle and some kind of leaf veggie or perhaps herbs in the front. Not sure yet.


That sounds like a solid plan. I'm totally new to gardening so its alot at one time. I was going to start with the smaller one (I think).

Good luck with your gardening! It's snowing in PA right now so maybe I shouldn't feel so behind.

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ElizabethB
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Raised bed, square foot or container gardening is no different than row gardening except fo the confined - easy to work space and plant spacing for mature size - no thinning. If your seeds are best sown directly into the soil then do so. I direct sow my cucumbers, bush beans, mustard greens and turnips. I just space them. I plant 9 bush bean seeds in each square foot. I grow the cucumbers vertically and plant 4 along the back side of the box. Peppers, tomatoes and eggplants are best started from seed then transplanted to the garden - my experience. My herbs are in containers. I started the basil and dill from harvested seed in starter pots then transplanted to larger pots. The book will answer most of your questions. Hopefully it comes in quickly.
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

pennsylvania
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Cubic foot

I'm trying to create Mel's mix and have found 4 cubic foot bags. The problem is, I need 2.5 cubic feet! What is the best way to pull out 2.5 cubic feet?

Sorry for the voter on this. I figured it all out in my head relating to 5 gallon buckets but think I'm confusing myself.

Does anybody with a bit more experience have a good idea on how to measure this?

cynthia_h
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Which ingredient is packaged in 4 ft3 bags?

Cynthia

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Jardin du Fort
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I don't think you need to obsess about this. Close is good enough. Half of your 4 cu. ft. bag is 2 cu. ft. and about 1/4 of what's left will give you your remaining 1/2 cu. ft.

:)

pennsylvania
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cynthia_h wrote:Which ingredient is packaged in 4 ft3 bags?

Cynthia


Hi Cynthia,
It is the vermiculite. I'm seeing that a 5 gallon bucket is .67 cubic foot. This should mean 3x5 gallon buckets = 2 cubic ft.

Then, since 3.74026 = a half a cubic foot, I'm guessing I could do 3 and 3/4 gallons to measure the rest.

Does this logic makes sense?

Thanks!

cynthia_h
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I like jardin's suggestion of approximating by halves and quarters, so follow him before taking off on my wild goose chase; I used to teach math....

and, yet again, I will inveigh against the "customary system" of measurement and say that this entire situation would be so trivial an 8-year-old could figure it out in the metric system.

OK. Breathing normally again. :oops:

1 cubic foot = 7.48 gallons (but we'll call it 7.5 gallons). Therefore,
4 cubic feet = 30 gallons, or six 5-gallon buckets full of vermiculite.

Since you only want half of what's available, you only need three 5-gallon buckets full of vermiculite (pretty close to jardin's recommendation and your own arithmetic! :) ).

Be sure to work with the vermiculite in a wind-free area; the stuff is very light and fly-away. If you can't find a wind-free area, or if the wind comes up while you're working, tie a handkerchief or scarf around your nose and mouth or wear a surgical mask (a la serious allergies) while working with it. It can make a lot of dust.

What we did was to mix the compost, potting soil, and vermiculite together on a tarp. Rolling the stuff by using the edges of the tarp was quite easy, and everything got thoroughly mixed together. Then we used--yes--our 5-gallon buckets to transfer the mix into Bed #1--the cement block bed. By the end of the process, we were using trowels to fill the buckets, but the whole thing was fairly quick once we got the "tarp-mixing" moving along.

BTW, back-calculating from your total of 6 yd3 of materials (vermiculite + peat + potting soil), it looks as if you plan to make a 4'x4'x6-inch container; correct? My experience in Spring and Summer 2008 with the 6-inch depth was pitiful. My bok choy, chard (!), peas, zukes, tomatoes, leeks, carrots (oh, my, the poor carrots), beets, and parsnips were uniformly un-impressed with 6 inches of "improved" planting medium. Only the lettuce managed to grow to a normal size. Since the newspaper to block off weed development was new, the veggie roots had trouble penetrating it that year at the tender length of 6 inches. :(

As we "harvested" the very small collection of plants, it became clear that a greater depth was needed for basic root development. I measured the cement blocks again, and confirmed that they could hold 10 inches' worth of planting medium. I added a boatload of compost--couldn't afford vermiculite that fall, and haven't purchased peat again--and mixed it in as plants came out, building up the depth over a few weeks.

The fall/winter plants were much happier: more chard, kale, fava beans, cabbage, broccoli romanesco, and similar veggies. Thus my recommendation for 10 inches minimum.

Even the carrots were happier with 10 inches than 6, but now I plant them in the 12-inch box we have. I have a grand total of 92 square feet in veggies, all of it in raised boxes. There are a few containers (fewer after the house-painting of the last while) with herbs and other veggies; those containers need revamping for the Spring....

Cynthia

pennsylvania
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pennsylvania wrote:
cynthia_h wrote:Which ingredient is packaged in 4 ft3 bags?

Cynthia


Hi Cynthia,
It is the vermiculite. I'm seeing that a 5 gallon bucket is .67 cubic foot. This should mean 3x5 gallon buckets = 2 cubic ft.

Then, since 3.74026 = a half a cubic foot, I'm guessing I could do 3 and 3/4 gallons to measure the rest.

Does this logic makes sense?

Thanks!


Doing a small Vegtrug which hits 12" in the center.
Slopes upward to more shallow on the sides.
http://www.williams-sonoma.com/m/produc ... -farm-kit/

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