User avatar
Sienna Dawn
Senior Member
Posts: 131
Joined: Sun Oct 12, 2008 6:25 pm
Location: Pensacola, FL

Speaking of Raised Beds....

My DH built 3 lovely planting boxes for me last week!

They are each 3' wide, 6' long and 18" deep. I'm thrilled with them and excited to get started, but not sure I'm going the right direction.

They are open on the bottom, so today I lined them with a thick layer of newspaper (my usual weed barrier for the garden) and covered that with a layer of pine straw. Now, for what to fill it with. As much as I would like to buy the lovely bagged stuff to start, I can't afford to fill 3 large boxes with the stuff ( so my thought is this...

Topsoil in bulk and amend with my own compost and other OM? I've also got access to all the horse manure I can shovel and haul for free... I'd let it compost for a bit before adding of course.

So... am I on the right track at all? Is my 'bottom layer' the right thing? Should I have used something other than paper and straw?

Help?!
"What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value."
--Thomas Paine

User avatar
Jbest
Senior Member
Posts: 209
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:47 pm
Location: Zone 5B Pennsylvania

Sienna Dawn, at 18â€
Life's Journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body,
but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting,
"Holy crap what a ride!!"

User avatar
Sienna Dawn
Senior Member
Posts: 131
Joined: Sun Oct 12, 2008 6:25 pm
Location: Pensacola, FL

Um... irrigation system as in drip lines? I'll be the one having to take on this project, as the planting boxes will be the end of DH's contribution to the gardening... with the exception of munching on the fruits of my labor of course. :lol:

So... I'm not big on digging trenches and burying pipes or anything, so could garden hoses, a manifold and some driplines do the trick? I've got an idea in mind, but not sure exactly how to implement.

Any suggestions?

BTW, is 18" *too* deep for the boxes? Is there a suggested depth? I wanted to have plenty of room because I want to try carrots in a section of one of the boxes.
"What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value."
--Thomas Paine

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

18 inches is NOT too deep. It might in fact help keep the soil temp a little cooler than it would have been with a shallower box.

Cynthia

User avatar
Sienna Dawn
Senior Member
Posts: 131
Joined: Sun Oct 12, 2008 6:25 pm
Location: Pensacola, FL

cynthia_h wrote:18 inches is NOT too deep. It might in fact help keep the soil temp a little cooler than it would have been with a shallower box.

Cynthia

Yay! Thanks Cynthia! Cooler soil temp in FL is a good thing come Summer! :D
"What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value."
--Thomas Paine

2cents
Green Thumb
Posts: 616
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2009 2:04 pm
Location: Ohio

The deeper the better if you have poor soil.
I'm not sure deeper is cooler, but don't know.
The deeper are good for the root crops.
You can put HM near the lower layers, because you have deep beds and it won't need pre-composting, it will compost under ground and the urea will leach down.
I've done similar with 8 inch beds and been good to go in a couple weeks. just push the HM off the roots if planting tomato starts, so there won't be any immediate contact with roots till the manure cools down. Put dirt or composts in the totmato holes.
IMHO

Bina
Full Member
Posts: 33
Joined: Sat Nov 01, 2008 6:45 pm
Location: Sylvan Lake, Alberta

:) I got a catalog from "Vesseys" and they had a great section of their irrigation systems....I won't buy one cause they could get to be a bit pricey and they are really only made out of 3/4'' pipe but the had some really great diagrams of set ups. With your boxes couldn't you just drill a hole in the end and run your pipe through? Just a couple thoughts hope it helps.
Bina :)
"We would stand a better chance of survival if we accommodated ourselves to this planet and viewed it appreciatively..."and I will begin in my backyard.

User avatar
Sienna Dawn
Senior Member
Posts: 131
Joined: Sun Oct 12, 2008 6:25 pm
Location: Pensacola, FL

Bina wrote::) I got a catalog from "Vesseys" and they had a great section of their irrigation systems....I won't buy one cause they could get to be a bit pricey and they are really only made out of 3/4'' pipe but the had some really great diagrams of set ups. With your boxes couldn't you just drill a hole in the end and run your pipe through? Just a couple thoughts hope it helps.
Bina :)
Hmmm... good ideas, thanks! :D ::runs to google 'Vesseys' ::
"What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value."
--Thomas Paine

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 28035
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

I just used lengths of salvaged soaker hoses interconnected with Y-junctions and cut sections of old hose (where watering is not necessary -- e.g. between beds), all connected with garden hose repair kits (the kind with interior tube and 2-clamping halves that are screwed together). I arranged the plants so the end of the "system" needed less water than the beginning. :mrgreen:

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

https://www.veseys.com/ ships to both Canada and the United States.

I've read good things about them elsewhere; they seem to be particularly recommended for seed varieties adapted to short growing seasons.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

Bina
Full Member
Posts: 33
Joined: Sat Nov 01, 2008 6:45 pm
Location: Sylvan Lake, Alberta

:oops: sorry Sienna but I was at work when I said Vessey's I should have said Lee Valley instead....so google Lee Valley Tools for the irrigation information......I have been snowed under by seed catalogs over the last couple of weeks and got the names mixed up...sorry for any frustration you might have encountered
:oops:
"We would stand a better chance of survival if we accommodated ourselves to this planet and viewed it appreciatively..."and I will begin in my backyard.

User avatar
Sienna Dawn
Senior Member
Posts: 131
Joined: Sun Oct 12, 2008 6:25 pm
Location: Pensacola, FL

Bina wrote::oops: sorry Sienna but I was at work when I said Vessey's I should have said Lee Valley instead....so google Lee Valley Tools for the irrigation information......I have been snowed under by seed catalogs over the last couple of weeks and got the names mixed up...sorry for any frustration you might have encountered
:oops:
No frustration and no worries! :D

Now I've got 2 cool sites... one for seeds and the other to water them with! 8)
"What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value."
--Thomas Paine

Bina
Full Member
Posts: 33
Joined: Sat Nov 01, 2008 6:45 pm
Location: Sylvan Lake, Alberta

Glad you liked Vessey's I keep eyeballing their asparagus peas...never tried them but any new vegie would be welcome addition to dinner. :D We're also putting raised beds in at our place to expand garden space and decrease lawn mowing space :) and I thought of drilling holes in the boxes for an irrigation system and also putting in permanent support loops at both ends of the beds in the corners to take bamboo poles or something similar to hold pea nets or trellis for beans, gourds etc. I figure I had better cover all my bases before I put the dirt in.
Needless to say my husband groans a lot at my plans but will be first in line for spring peas as well :lol: Any way good luck with your project.
Bina :lol:
"We would stand a better chance of survival if we accommodated ourselves to this planet and viewed it appreciatively..."and I will begin in my backyard.

Jalopy19
Cool Member
Posts: 73
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 3:49 am
Location: Wichita, KS

ditto. I hadn't heard of either of those companies. Thanks!
USDA Zone 6b

User avatar
hendi_alex
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3567
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

Up until last year I had used five and one half inch deep raised beds over a concrete pad. They did very well for most things, though heavy feeders like tomatoes were not placed in those shallow beds. Last year I replaced them with ten inch deep 3 foot by 10 foot frames and consider those beds to be a wonderful depth. Heavy feeding squash did very well in them this past summer. So 18 inches deep sounds absolutely wonderful, except for the chore of filling them. My beds have several seasons worth of synthetic soil, manure, leaf mold/partial composted material and the beds are still not totally full. But hey, you can start out with only 8 to ten inches or even less, of planting medium, and gradually fill the frames over two or three seasons. That way you can accumulate leaves, manure, etc. to provide organic rich ingredients. So far this fall I have about 125 cubic feet of leaves, compost, and manure to add to my raised beds. It will decompose some over the winter and will go as a top dressing or mix in the raised beds in the spring.

I have one new bed that has no soil at all. This week I plan to fill the box with alternating layers of leaves, manure, and sythetic soil, and will add a good batch of earth worms to do my work for me. This material will mostly be broken down by late spring. At planting time I'll mix synthetic into the top several inches and will plant in that. Most of the volume is filled with free stuff, and then the top is filled with a mix of last year's used potting mix blended with freshly bought potting mix. The first year I'll add about two large bags to a three by ten foot bed, and then after that, it is just a matter of amending the top few inches with a fresh batch of soil. Eventually the frames get filled to within an inch of the top.

2cents
Green Thumb
Posts: 616
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2009 2:04 pm
Location: Ohio

hendi_alex

Thank you for that reply
A friend has an old garage floor (next to his garden spot) that has 2-6 inches of dirt on top of it.
He can't get any production out of it. He has asked me what to do short of sledge and jack hammer.
I've mentioned more compost.

I will let him know, raised bed, I will likely quote you in an email.
And go for shallow root crops till he gets 10" inches on top built up.

How deep does he need for corn?

Thanks

User avatar
hendi_alex
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3567
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

I've never planted corn in my raised beds as it is such a heavy feeder. I do believe that corn would do well in the new ten inch deep beds and have been trying to decide whether or not to try a block one of the frames. Also, this is only my first full season of having the beds deep enough to expand the planting selection in those replacement beds. I'm considering growing carrots which I have not grown in several years. Mine have always tasted kind of sharp, almost chemical in nature, those they steam just fine. But they have never compared well to those extra sweet California carrots that are oh so sweet and mild. Must have something to do with their long, mild growing season.
Last edited by hendi_alex on Mon Jan 26, 2009 1:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
hendi_alex
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3567
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

Just got through with the first round of filling my newest raised bed, on a concrete pad. The 10 inch by 4 foot by 8 foot bed comes in at just over 25 cubic feet. I added 20-22 cubic feet of wet, relatively compacted mostly oak leaves. Added them in three layers, shoveling recycled potting soil/compost mix between and on top. As the bed settles, will add leaves and potting soil/compost until a few weeks before planting time. Then will allow the bed to settle and will top the box off with fresh potting soil at planting time. For this bed I'm using raw, fresh season oak leaves. Usually I would be using leaf mold/partially composted material to fill the main volume of such a bed. I added a good dose of high nitrogen fertilizer to aid the break down of leaves, also threw in a good batch of worms from the kettle worm bed. That kettle worm bed has turned out to be a gem of an idea. The original hand full of worms has turned in to several thousand already, this spring when the weather warms, I believe the worm production will be phenomenal.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

2cents
Green Thumb
Posts: 616
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2009 2:04 pm
Location: Ohio

This is so new a concept to me, I am amazed and would love to see pictures.

What is "the kettle bed"?

I've not gone the worm route yet, but the more I read the more interesting it looks.
Dad had one, he killed all of them shortly after they got productive and that was the end of that.
How much does it help? And is it possible to make one outdoors this far north?

And do you have any PH issue with using oak leaves.
Many folks warn me about using them, but my experience indicates it is not a problem.
Of course my leaf compost is always less than 50% oak.
I put twigs, sticks, shrubs, pine and everything in mine and haven't had a problem.
But, I don't use a PH tester either.

User avatar
hendi_alex
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3567
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

The worms help break down any of the leaves and organic matter that is put in the compost pile or in the various garden beds. When I first moved here, there were virtually zero earth worms in the dry sandy soil. Now, when moving most any container, earthworms will be in and under it. It is my understanding that the presence of earthworms is a great indication of the health of your soil. Also, worm castings are supposed to be a tremendous source of nutrients for plants. Further, the digging and tunneling of the worms is a great aerator for the soil.

WRT oak leaves being acid, I was curious about that in the past and did a good bit of googling and found several bits of research, all of which indicated that the acid nature of oak leaves is a myth, that composted oak leaves tend to be very near neutral. Here is a typical quote related to oak leaf acidity: "[myth]You can't use oak leaves on your garden because they're too acid. [fact]False. As oak leaves rot they lose their slight acidity, and the oak leaf mold ends up alkaline."

I am sure that you could establish a worm bed, but if using something like my kettle grill, it may have to be in a sheltered location during really cold freezes. I did leave mine outside as temperatures visited the single digits for a couple of days. The worms seem no worse for wear from exposure to those temperatures. If you don't have a sheltered location, like a closed garage, it probably would be better for you to make a more coventional worm bed that is in contact with the ground, that would allow the worms to dig deeper when the soil temperature drops really low. One main reason for my using the kettle grill is to discourage fireants from decimating the worm population. If not for that, I would have just continued growing my worms in the open compost pile. The worms did great in my compost pile until the invading fire ants moved in, eating the worms and anything that moved, in fact most everything else as well. Here is a repost regarding the re-use of my old kettle grill.

This original post was first listed under the thread "trash to treasure" on the Non-Gardening Related Hoo-ha and Foo board.

As you know, have been following this trash to treasure thread. Well, there was another thread over on the compost board, mentioned a worm bed. So happens I have a pretty good compost pile and at least 20 years ago added a pound or two or earth worms. Up until a couple of years ago when the fire ants invaded the compost piles I would have huge masses of worms throughout the pile. It never occurred to me to consider a worm bed. So with the post related to a worm bed, and then this thread on re-use, my mind started turning, [what can I use for a worm bed.] Just happened to think about a large kettle grill that got replaced by a fancy gas unit and has been stored in the barn for at least ten years. It has vent holes for air, a lid to keep out undesireable critters and is heavy enamel and aluminum. So the experiment begins. Half filled the kettle grill with partially decomposed compost, sifted through and picked out some earthworms to make sure a few were in this starter mix. In the future rather than adding my kitchen scraps directly to the compost pile, instead will put them in this makeshift worm bed. Will let you know how it works.

The grill was converted to a worm bed in July of 2008. I added about 40 additional worms gathered from my daughters home in N.C. Since that time I've pulled out perhaps a quarter pound of worms and introduced them to several raised beds and to two compost piles. Just sifting though the mix in the kettle gives me the impressiion that there are now thousands of earth worms in that compost/kitchen waste mix. The worms are really thriving and it is here in mid winter. In the spring I would expect an explosion of the earthworms to add to our landscape.

So far the kettle drum is a perfect worm bed. It is small enough for easy management. It is easily transportable. It is resistant to corrosion. It has the capacity to grow many thousands of earthworms. It has air holes for circulation, a lid to keep out undesireable critters. I even keep a bucket under the grill to catch any liquids that pass through, will dump that into my various raised beds. The only management is adding kitchen scraps once or twice per month, and also turning with a hand gardening fork about once per week.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

Return to “Vegetable Gardening Forum”