3DMommy
Full Member
Posts: 11
Joined: Sat Dec 24, 2011 5:12 pm
Location: Groton, CT

Garden Construction

I am a new gardener and am planning a 10'x16' garden for the Spring. I am curious as to any favorite materials for garden construction. Chicken wire vs. Railroad ties, etc. Also, I'm wondering about a decent edge height that will discourage little critters from eating my veggies. Any and all advice would be welcome!

3DMommy
Full Member
Posts: 11
Joined: Sat Dec 24, 2011 5:12 pm
Location: Groton, CT

Marlingardener wrote: We have "raised beds" of a sort--we dig over an area, then scoop out a pathway around it while tossing the dirt on the garden area, then mulch the path. That way we have raised beds, a convenient and relatively mud-free path, all without the labor/cost of materials to edge the gardens.
I LOVE this idea! I wasn't necessarily looking for raised beds, the cost of filling them is a bit daunting for a new gardener. I am planning on adding peat moss, compost, and perhaps vermiculite to my existing soil. The method for creating beds you described sounds very do-able! Should I separate each crop by a path or just stick with the 5 ft. across measurement?

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

If you make your beds no more than 5 feet wide (I often go with 4 feet, being short without real long arms), then there's no reason to make other paths. You don't necessarily need all your crops separated or in rows. You can plant things kind of close in the the whole area of the bed and get more use out of the ground that way.

In this thread, I spelled out what I plan to put in each of my raised beds, so it will give you a sense of how things can go together...

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=41422
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

3DMommy
Full Member
Posts: 11
Joined: Sat Dec 24, 2011 5:12 pm
Location: Groton, CT

Oh my goodness... So much I didn't know! :) I will measure my reach and plan accordingly. So, to recap... If I break my original 10'x16' bed down into 6 - 5'x5' (or so) mini-beds filled with compost and soil (after testing) and plant "companion" crops that my family and I will actually eat then I will have the basics? I think I can do that!! :D

3DMommy
Full Member
Posts: 11
Joined: Sat Dec 24, 2011 5:12 pm
Location: Groton, CT

One more question... Do you put any sort of fencing around your beds?

DoubleDogFarm
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 6113
Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2010 3:43 am

I started out close to 5 ft wide, then 4ft, but know I'm down to 3ft wide. A raised bed, with a dome to it, has about 4ft of planting surface.

I also find with the narrower rows, my low tunnels are easier to handle.
[img]https://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h300/eric_wa/DSC03404.jpg[/img]

Eric
Last edited by DoubleDogFarm on Wed Dec 28, 2011 7:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Re the fencing, depends on your crops and your critters. EVERY critter in the world (apparently) loves tomatoes and corn, if you grow that. I don't grow corn, partly because of the critter problem, but I do grow tomatoes. So I put stakes around the edge of the bed(s) the tomatoes are in, and wrap it with deer netting (also called bird netting). Fasten it down at the bottom AND pull it together over the top and fasten it, so the tomatoes are in a complete cage.

Since I have lots of birds, squirrels, raccoons, groundhogs, possums, etc, if I didn't do that I would never get a tomato. Broccoli isn't eaten by quite as many critters, but the groundhogs do love it. That's another reason that it works for me to plant broccoli in the same bed where the tomatoes will (later) go, so they can share the same fencing.

On the other hand, my green peppers as well as all the herbs, I don't bother fencing, because nothing bothers them.

If you have fewer critters around your place, fencing may not be as important.

Re your original question on materials, I started out with railroad ties, some of my flower beds just have plastic edging, but a lot of my beds are done with stacked 4x4 pine fence posts. The fence posts are cheap (usually cheaper than the landscape timbers that are sold for the purpose) and they last forever. The posts last much longer than using boards, which is un-recommended, unless you use the recycled plastic boards (which would last even longer and provide a market for recycled plastic, but are expensive). The first beds I ever made, I made out of 1x12" boards with angle braces, but they fell apart and rotted out after just a few years. The first beds I made with the fence posts have been through ten seasons now and are going strong.
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

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

When you are doing garden planning, be sure you pay attention to which are warm season veggies and which are cool season. It's one of the commonest mistakes new gardeners make, is to plant a bunch of seeds without regard to the needs of the different kinds of plants, for temperature, light, moisture etc.

Cool season veggies include spinach, lettuce, and all the green leafies, root veggies, brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, etc), peas, onions.

Warm season is pretty much everything else, including tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans, corn...

It looks like you are probably zone 6. Here's a planting guide that will give you a general idea, which seeds are planted when:

https://www.thevegetablegarden.info/resources/planting-schedules/zones-5-6-planting-schedule
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

3DMommy
Full Member
Posts: 11
Joined: Sat Dec 24, 2011 5:12 pm
Location: Groton, CT

I decided to take advantage of our unusually moderate temperatures to start "building" my garden beds. Like countless New England gardeners and farmers before me (I'm sure) I underestimated the number of rocks in my soil. I decided to let the ground guide me and completed a 5'x10' bed outlined with all the rocks (ok, all-out boulders) I pulled from the soil. I currently have about 8" of loose soil that is fairly rock free (I will certainly be growing stump-rooted carrots and not the long pretty ones). As the weather allows I will continue to loosen the soil and remove as many rocks as I can. I might even get ambitious and build another bed the same size next to it. I am hoping that by the beginning of April (if all goes as planned) I will be ready to add compost to my soil and plant my broccoli and carrots.

To what depth should I loosen the soil? I will eventually be adding a few tomato plants (around Mother's Day), should I loosen to a depth of 18" as Marlingardener suggested for a raised bed?

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

I think digging down 18" in rocky soil would be a pretty monumental task. People do it sometimes (look up double digging or French Intensive method), but it takes commitment. I think what Mg was talking about was getting to 18" by piling on, not digging down. If you dig your paths out, so the path is a few inches lower than the ground level and pile all that dirt on your beds, you have built them up and that dirt will be pretty loosened from the digging. Then add some compost and manure on top and it isn't so hard to get to 18". So definitely loosen up the bottom 6-8" and then pile all the rest on top.

And with the paths dug out, they will be in to the rocky area, so less muddy and you now have room to add mulch on top!
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

3DMommy
Full Member
Posts: 11
Joined: Sat Dec 24, 2011 5:12 pm
Location: Groton, CT

Got it! :lol:

User avatar
jal_ut
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7480
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

I guess I am a no fuss kind of a person. I would just dig an area, amend it with some compost or manure, and plant. Making raised beds, or digging paths, not for me. Just more work and more cost. Plant roots have an amazing ability to go deep in even compacted soil with rocks in it. If you have dug 8 inches deep and have most of the large rocks out, you will do well with the root crops. Just plant the short types of carrots. Half longs or Chantenay. Beets, radish, turnip will do fine.

Don't let me discourage you from making raised beds if that is what you want.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

3DMommy
Full Member
Posts: 11
Joined: Sat Dec 24, 2011 5:12 pm
Location: Groton, CT

Chantenay are what I had in mind! :) How do you think tomatoes would do in the 8" plus compost?

Return to “Vegetable Gardening Forum”