annafaie
Cool Member
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Dec 08, 2008 3:40 pm
Location: Richardson, TX

1st time vegetable garden in TX - I've got questions!

Hi everyone! I live in North Texas just outside of Dallas. I am building my raised bed this week to prepare it for planting in the spring. So, I've done a bunch of research and I still have tons of questions. My most pressing and urgent ones are:

1. In a raised bed what (if anything) do I need to line it with? I've read to line the entire thing with plastic but that seems like it would not allow proper drainage. It will be 12" high built up on the sides with pressure treated wood. It will only be 8' x 8' to start so it's little...

2. I'll be using soil from my backyard and I've got a whole heck of a lot of goat manure. I plan on tilling the 2 together and let rest for the winter. Is there anything else I need to do? Do I need to add anything else to the soil during the winter? Should I put any other organic matter into the bed all during winter or do I just leave it alone (coffee grounds, veg clipings, mulched leaves, etc)?

3. I want to also start a compost pile. Can anyone point me in the direction of a good thread for newbie composters or can anyone tell me exactly what I need to start? Like, what kind of "structure" do I need to build? Can I just start with garden/yard clippings, mulched up leaves and kitchen scraps (I know enough to know the "right" kind of scraps to compost so no need to go over that part ;-) OR do I need to start with a good amount of dirt in addition to the other stuff? Also, doyou have to water your compost pile? If so, my neighbor has a koi fish pond and the water he pumps out of the filter is loaded with lots of rich nutrients from the fish poop....can I use this water for my compost pile or could I use it to water my garden? Or is that just a gross idea? We're both starting garden's together and he mentioned the use of the poop-water.

I am VERY new to all this. I have always wanted to have a veggie patch so I'm really excited and I'm also a knowledge junkie so fire away...I'm ready for your knowledge :-)
Thanks! Anna

annafaie
Cool Member
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Dec 08, 2008 3:40 pm
Location: Richardson, TX

No one? :( Well, I got the answers to my composting question (#3) so I guess if anyone out there can help me with the first 2 questions I would really appreciate it :D

Hi everyone! I live in North Texas just outside of Dallas. I am building my raised bed this week to prepare it for planting in the spring. So, I've done a bunch of research and I still have tons of questions. My most pressing and urgent ones are:

1. In a raised bed what (if anything) do I need to line it with? I've read to line the entire thing with plastic but that seems like it would not allow proper drainage. It will be 12" high built up on the sides with pressure treated wood. It will only be 8' x 8' to start. Little, I know.

2. I'll be using soil from my backyard and I've got a whole heck of a lot of goat manure to fill it with. I plan on tilling the 2 together and let rest for the winter. Is there anything else I need to do to the bed Dec - Feb?
Thanks! Anna

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Gnome
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Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

Anna,
I've read to line the entire thing with plastic but that seems like it would not allow proper drainage.
A few things that might help. The only reason that I can think of to line your raised beds would be to keep weeds down. So unless you have a bad crop of perennial weeds I'd skip this. You could use several thicknesses of newspaper as a barrier to weeds but I'd think twice before using plastic.
It will only be 8' x 8' to start. Little, I know.
If the shape of your plot permits it make the bed/s longer and more narrow, perhaps 4FT wide. This way you can reach to the center from either side and will never have to walk on the soil which will tend to compact it.

I know this does not answer all your questions but it's a start. Have you found the [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=35]Compost Forum?[/url]

Norm

cynthia_h
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7501
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 11:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

I often answer the questions about raised beds, filling 'em, and composting, but it's being a "wall-to-wall, air-tight" week.

So here's my equivalent of a drive-by response:

1) Yes, raised beds are great! But...as Gnome has recommended, make sure you can reach into the bed WITHOUT stepping in it. Stepping on your plants' roots suffocates them and undoes all of your work. It compresses the soil, making weeding--if needed--more difficult.

2) Mel Bartholomew (of Square Foot Gardening) recommends a MAXIMUM of 4 feet for raised beds. John Jeavons (of "More Vegetables") recommends a MAXIMUM of 5 feet for planting beds dug into the earth. In either case, 8 feet wide will not allow you to reach into the bed; you'll have to stand in it. Think about it.

3) I have raised beds. The bottoms have several layers of newspapers. I wage constant war with oxalis, kikuyu grass, and the like. Only a few bold examples of these nasty plants have grown through the newspapers this year. Other people with raised beds put landscape fabric on the bottom of the bed. I haven't read about lining the sides. Plastic, in any case, would inhibit drainage--counteracting one of the terrific advantages of raised beds.

Please read the Stickies and other threads in the Compost Forum. There is No One True Revealed Way to Compost; everyone's set-up is different; everyone's access to "ingredients" is different.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

cynthia_h
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7501
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 11:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

Also: go visit your local public library. Most public libraries in the U.S. use the Dewey Decimal System. Gardening is subject 635. Specific gardening topics will have call numbers like 635.1 or 635.9986 or something in between. (Cookbooks--a very related subject, in my opinion--are subject 641. Not too far away on the shelves!)

There are entire BOOKS written on ways to make compost. Ways to make raised beds. Recipes for planting mix.

The library is free. Mistakes, esp. when purchasing wood and other building supplies, can be $$$.

See what the library ***and the librarians*** can help you with.

Cynthia H. (a library volunteer; can you tell? :lol:)
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

annafaie
Cool Member
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Dec 08, 2008 3:40 pm
Location: Richardson, TX

Thanks so much Cynthia!! Great idea and I LOVE going to the library so I'll take are of that this weekend.
Thanks! Anna

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