jkolive
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Lining raised bed

Okay next dumb question.

My 4 foot by 8 foot raised box has some chicken wire on the bottom. (to keep rodents out) Should I lay the weed block under the chicken wire on the dirt? Or should I lay the weed block on the top of the chicken wire then proceed to fill with compost/soil mixture?

Thank you

Oh next question? Ive over loaded myself with books, but most are feeling dry. Any suggestions on an easy to read, not full of soil chemistry info for the newbie gardener?

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truelivingorganics
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I would lay the chicken wire then the weed blocker than your soil. If you have enough of the weed blocker do a layer above the chicken wire and below which will give you much better protection against weeds and other unwanted growth.

I can't necessarily recommend a book but I can recommend a great movie about Dirt. Infact the movie's name is called Dirt!

Goto https://www.TheDirtMovie.org

It truly will teach you a lot about soil and is not scientific in any manner what so ever.

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jal_ut
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I won't recommend a weed blocker. The roots of your garden plants will go deep into the underlying layers looking for water and nutrients.

Root Development
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

tomc
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If you were hoping to keep tree roots out of your raised bed, weed fabric is not rugged enough.

My persona favorite would be cardboard as light barrier in top of soil.
Think like a tree
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jkolive
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No not tree roots. Our beds are going in a large empty field with just lots of weeds. I've dug most of the dirt under my box up so it's pretty bare, but I figured more would grow.

jal_ut if our boxes are deep enough and don't go farther down into the dirt would it then be productive to lay a weed blocker?

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jal_ut
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First, what kinds of weeds?

If its stuff that has perennial rhizome roots you about have to dig them out. Perhaps weed blocker would help in this case.

If it is just annual weeds that come up from seed, don't worry about it. They won't be a problem. The soil you add to the bed smothers them.

Did you look at the link I gave you about root development? When I see how deep the roots of our garden plants will go if they can, I have to say it is good to let them have access to those lower layers of soil. Yes, we can grow plants in pots, but it seems we may put some severe limitations on them in a pot. A raised bed with a bottom pan is just a big pot.

One more question, what is the material of the weed blocker you are considering? Is it one of those polypropylene woven fabrics? These are sometimes used as weed blocker on the surface, In any event putting that type of materials on the bottom of your raised bed is certainly a waste of time and materials.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

imafan26
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I've had weed block on the surface, but not below. Does it affect drainage much? It does block some water on top.

Unless you are a chemist, chemistry books are dry.

Unless you are looking at a soil test report, I don't think you really need it. Even the soil report recommendations tell you exactly how much to add for the crop you specified. All you really need to know is how to read a fertilizer bag and know one thing.
% of the element whether it be N,P,K, Fe,Cu, or anything else is equal to pounds. For example: 3% Nitrogen = 3 pounds of elemental nitrogen ( it may come in different forms nitrites or nitrates) in every 100 lbs of fertilizer.

If you are using organic products like manures or compost from farms or homemade, you would have to have them tested. But the numbers will be low and not all of the nitrogen will be readily available.

As long as you continue to build soil by adding organic matter, minimize soil disturbance, have a healthy soil web, and you have good results, why bother?

I would have the soil tested every few years, just because things can change over time and in most cases the phosphorus, pH potassium, calcium, and sometimes aluminum, and magnesium can rise to a level where you may want to make corrections. This is especially true if you are not rotating crops to scrounge the leftover nutrients. When a single crop is planted over and over again, some nutrients will be used up more than others. The soil test will almost always have nitrogen recommendations, but it will probably be less than you think. Why waste time and money adding what you don't need, may leach out and be harmful to the environment.

Choose the right stuff to add to support the soil web and it will keep things balanced for you. Select the right crop for the existing soil conditions. If the soil is very alkaline plant cabbages, not blueberries. Organic matter builds soil. Inorganic fertilizers provide nutrients but does not build the soil. Feed the soil well and it will feed you well in return.

Below is a link to a publication on the soil food web. There are others. This one is short and simple.

https://www.ecoversity.org/archives/soil_ecology.pdf
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

jkolive
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Jal_ut I have no idea what type of weeds they are! But your right I had to dig super deep to get the roots! They were HUGE! I can take some pictures for you tomorrow. (Everything I do is picture based)

The liner was indeed the black fabric woven type material you get at home depot. The other suggestion I was given was to actually use newspaper! Im thinking of going with nothing and just weeding as needed though. Can't kill me to weed!

cynthia_h
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Don't laugh at newspaper; it works for a couple of seasons! Long enough for you to become more experienced in the routines of gardening, at least.

So long as your boxes are at least 10" to 12" (or even more) deep, newspaper will be fine. I used four layers of newspaper in the bottom of my raised beds/boxes, and they slowed the weeds down for maybe three years. Not too bad!

But if whatever you're trying to keep out of the beds is small (voles?), chicken wire is too big. Sunset recommends half-inch hardware cloth to protect against small critters, like voles, and strong, determined ones, like rabbits.

What books do you have that are boring? I wouldn't want to recommend something you're already not liking! :lol: So give me a clue, and not only I but many on this site will drown you in book recommendations....beware what you ask for.... :?

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

jkolive
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The boxes are almost 12 inches deep (11.5) The rodents we have to deal with are mostly ground squirrels. Will chicken wire stop them? I was also planning on covering the whole plot in bird netting.

I have about 7 books right now I will get a list of them tomorrow. The one on the beside table is how to grow more vegetables and it's kinda neat. Talks a lot about saving the earth :)

cynthia_h
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Oooohhh, the Fluffy-Tailed Rats. :x A plague on the earth (literally: in California, at least, these...creatures...can carry Yersenia pestis, also known as bubonic plague).

The Sunset Western Garden Problem Solver (a different book from the one I usually recommend) shows a photo of a protected raised bed using "aviary wire." It looks like chicken wire, but with much smaller apertures. Might be equivalent to half-inch hardware cloth, but there's no scale on the photo, which shows the aviary wire covering the bottom and sides of the box. It's just bent, gently, at the "seam." My copy of the Problem Solver was copyrighted in 1998 (although I'm pretty sure I purchased it in 2008), and the photo is on page 44. This method of protection is suggested explicitly for gophers and rabbits (well, some reading between the lines re. rabbits).

Sunset, in 1998 at least, didn't seem to realize that squirrels will attack our veggie plants. :!: The only--and I mean only--recommendation in this section on "Avoiding animal damage" that relates to Fluffy-Tailed Rats (aka squirrels) discusses the need to put out "bird feeders...that work fairly well to keep out all but the most persistent squirrels. If squirrels are burying nuts in your container plants--a favorite storage space [they buried empty peanut shells in my beds]--try using small red lava rock as a mulch. Its coarse surface acts as a deterrent" (p. 45).

Talk about useless advice! Lava rock, once in the soil, is almost impossible to deal with. When you want to mix in additional compost, guess what? ==> The lava rock is in the way and needs to be either hand-picked out or sifted out. Bleah. :evil: This, IMHO, is the place for chicken wire; it'll make digging in the soil unpleasant, both for squirrels and for any cats that may view the veggie container as a very large, comfy kitty box. :wink: To protect the veggie plants themselves, I think rainbowgardener ties up deer netting on the raised beds.

Cynthia

jkolive
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Hahahah!! Your telling me! Fluffy-Tailed Rats thats funny!!

I hate the little beasts! Talk about almost breaking an ankle while mowing the back yard because the things have destroyed the place. They are evil.

imafan26
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I would recommend getting these newsletters from NGA. They send it to you by email and the price is right. It is free. It has some helpful sidebars as well.

I also recommend the Ortho problem solver, it is a great book for identifying pest problems. Realize though, ortho will recommend ortho solutions, so you will have to look elsewhere for organic ones.

I also like the Sunset garden book as a basic reference.

Any of the Rodale's vegetable garden problem solver.

John Jeavons biointensive garden (link below). This is also on you tube.

https://www.garden.org/
https://www.johnjeavons.info/video.html
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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