bwhite829
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Possible raised veggie bed endeavor. Need help

Feel free to move this if its in the wrong spot. wasn't sure if i should put it in veggie gardening or container gardening.

My fiance and I are moving into the apartment in jan, she's moving in this weekend. We will have a small patio(i'd have to say roughly 3-4 ft by about 5-6 feet. I got the go ahead to build a raised bed for the patio, and was wonering if its possible to layer a raised bed for those veggies that don't grow very tall? for example, put a 3x5 bed thats about 11" high, then put stack another bed about 4-5' above it? would that prevent shade too much? i'd be watering them by hand anyway, and i figure with that, a planter to hang over the side of the railing of the balcony, and a couple pots here and there, and i can grow a decent amount of a few different things :)

gumbo2176
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That doesn't sound too feasible to me if I read it correctly. You want to build a 3x5x1' box on the ground and build another same size box raised 4-5 ft. over it. If this is what you are intending, what do you plan on planting in the upper box. Tall plants will soon outgrow your reach and will likely take a ladder to tend to them and the lower box would be pretty shaded most of the time. You would also have to have some seriously sturdy framework to support the upper box. That is a lot of weight with the size wood needed and soil to make things grow, then add the weight of the plants and water needed to keep things growing. What do you plan on making the bottom of the upper box out of? It will have to be strong enough to support all the weight of soil, plants and watering. It will also have to be able to drain.


It can be built but it will be pretty expensive in material alone and I'm not sure it would be practical in the above configuration.

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applestar
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Gumbo raised some good points.

An alternative to make better use of vertical space would be to build a 20~24" DEEP raised bed out of wood or mortared brick and incorporate planting holes in the sides. You could then transplant started shorter plants like greens and herbs or strawberries, and take advantage of sunny vs. shady sides.

If you are going to have solid bottom -- i.e. patio -- you'd want the depth anyway. I don't think 12" deep would be sufficient for larger plants.

Make sure to trellis any vining plants and tomatoes to save space.
Last edited by applestar on Thu Oct 28, 2010 7:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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rainbowgardener
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Agree with all of the above; doesn't sound feasible to me. Think about getting the most use of your space in other ways: Use trellis to grow vertically, lots of vine-y things (zucchini, cucumber, peas, beans, etc), plant multiple crops through the season (ie. start with lettuce spinach broccoli that can be planted very early and are done early and then maybe squash or other warm weather crops in the space when they are done, and then fall winter crops), interplant (like lettuce between the rows of peas) etc.
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bwhite829
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I was thinking whnen I said taller plants I didn't mean really tall plants, but i get your point there. As for material, I was thinking a 4x4 corner post on each corner, then brace the top bed with some 2x4's along the bottom and so i'd have about 3 ft of space between the top and lower bed. Think of a "bunk bed" type bed garden. So drainage and safety would be an issue it seems? What do you mean planting holes? Is there pictures or videos of using space like this? Thanks for the input. I'm still trying to brainstorm.

gumbo2176
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Think of a strawberry pot. You know, the ones with the opening at the top for the main crop and along the sides of the pot there are pockets that you can plant more plants into, thus maximizing the planting space in a small area. If you are not familiar with that concept, google strawberry pots and see what comes up.

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rainbowgardener
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Drainage, safety, WEIGHT (4 corner posts are definitely not going to hold this thing up), shading the bottom plants out, the wood holding up the top box rotting out after a couple seasons of constant moisture....

Planting holes are when you dig a hole in the dirt and stick a plant in it. In this case Apple was referring to leaving spaces in the sides of your bed to plant into so you plant not just the top of the box, but also the sides(easy to do if you built it out of cement block that already has a space in the middle).

I have raised beds on my concrete patio (not bunk beds) that are 20" deep. That works well even for bigger plants like full sized tomato plants. Agree that 12" might be enough to grow lettuce and smaller things, but not enough soil for larger plants.

Note that AS and I were posting at the same time, hadn't read each other's posts, but had very similar ideas.
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DoubleDogFarm
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Drainage, safety, WEIGHT (4 corner posts are definitely not going to hold this thing up), shading the bottom plants out, the wood holding up the top box rotting out after a couple seasons of constant moisture....
Did I read balcony. Back to weight. You are on the second floor? Is the structure rated for this?

Eric

gumbo2176
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[quote Did I read balcony. Back to weight. You are on the second floor? Is the structure rated for this?


Another good point. With a double box constructed to be safe and functional, all that soil, plants, watering etc. , you are adding thousands, not hundreds of pounds to a structure.

bwhite829
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we are bottom floor. I've ditched the double bed idea because i didn't realize how much weight it'd be. I am debating going with the stone garden instead, my only concern with that is the possibility of it taking up more space and giving me less room for gardening.

Also, I was brainstorming on my way home, and I was wondering for those who do raised bed gardening: Do you guys replant as you eat? It'd be somewhat feasible to have a flat or 2 of seedlings and plants ready to transplant and just sticking them in there as you pull up something else. Is this a common practice or a totally bad idea?

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A lot of plants can be eaten off of for a long time. Take leaf lettuce, swiss chard, spinach, just about any greens that don't head and you can pick off individual leaves for consumption and allow the plant to make more. For a small bed like you're talking about, you want to probably stay away from things like heading lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower since they are one and done.

Like others have mentioned, plant a side with vining plants like pole beans or cucumbers and let them grow on some type support vertically. Things like tomato, pepper, eggplant etc. produce quite a bit of vegetables over time for a long harvest season. Plus you can grow smaller plants near them to maximize use of a small space. I have a row of tomato plants in my garden and under them are several varieties of leaf lettuce, spinach, chard and kale.

You definitely need to have a plan since your space is so limited. I have a very elderly lady friend that wanted a small garden. Her son turned the soil and added some composted material and she proceeded to plant about 5 times the amount of plants reasonable for that space and plants that couldn't survive our summer heat. It was several weeks into her gardening that I went to visit and broke the bad news to her about the probability for failure but she decided to forge on. Her garden failed miserably. She now has it planted for the fall and her crop selection is much more suited and not as much so she should do fine.

DoubleDogFarm
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OK, so nobody else asked, so I guess I have to. :)

Why, with you and your Grandfather's large garden are you messing with this patio idea? Did I misunderstand your other postings.

Most of the Greens, you harvest the outer leaves. You can also cut the whole plant an inch above the ground and they will come back. Months worth of cuttings from a single planting.

You could also bring home some thinnings from the big garden to plant.

Eric

bwhite829
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well thats a great question. my grandpa's garden is about 25-30 mins away, and i can't get out there as much as I'd like. I've been bitten by the gardening bug and want to have a garden I can tend to on a daily basis. :)

DoubleDogFarm
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Good answer. :D

Eric

cynthia_h
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There are suggested solutions to several of your questions in Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening (the 2005 revision). Succession planting, shallow balcony planter boxes/container beds, how to put a bed on "legs" and so on, are dealt with in the book.

When I was able to garden again in Spring 2008 after several years of enforced layoff from gardening, I tried raised beds a la Mel. Silly me, I believed his "6 inches are enough" schtick. No. Go for 10 inches of depth. This will definitely increase the weight burden on your deck. Mel recommends starting with a 4' x 4' bed, and the photos in the book (some of them, anyway) show corners reinforced with 4x4 posts.

His information is also available on DVD, so check with your local public library and see whether they have it or can get it for you.

Cynthia H.
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bwhite829
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Update: After going today to finish up the paperwork for the apt and going to look at it again, I measured the patio, and I'll actually have enough room for about 2 4x4 beds. From what I've read, I think 1 4x4 section is enough for 1 person, so we'll be able to each have our own garden! I was thinking about the 2 bunk garden bed because I didn't think there was enough space to work with. I was also worried about the shade. There was no shade on my patio today (noon'ish when I looked at it) so that won't be a problem either. I think between this patio garden and the in ground garden @ my grandparents, I might have an over abundance of veggies over the next year(which I'm not complaining about since 2/3 of my grocery bill goes to veggies)

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