This is my first post, after reading many threads here in the past week or so. I'm looking to start a vegetable garden in my yard this year to supplement my family's grocery (and health!) needs, and have a plan that I'd like to run by "the pro's" to see if I'm off-base here or not. =)
We're located in Western Massachusetts, and I have a reasonable amount of area in the yard that gets full sun for most of the day. (or rather, it will after I finish taking back the pesky Butternut tree again this year) My plan is to construct two "containers" measuring 4'x8' with a soil depth of 2'8" to be filled with a good topsoil/manure mix from a reputable local landscaping/garden supply company. These will rest approximately 4" off the ground, supported on partially submerged concrete blocks. I also plan on a potato "tower" or two made of fencing, and building upwards.
I suppose the question here is whether the 2'8" depth will be enough to root a good crop of the "typical" garden veggies successfully, assuming a rich soil mix and careful tending. I am quite new to this, and have a preliminary plan drawn up, but want to be sure I'm not constructing these "beds" without hope of ever successfully growing substantial plants in them. =)
As for the logic behind this rather cumbersome arrangement, I have a couple reasons; first and foremost, it seems that the back of my property, where the beds will be located, was the household dump at one time. With the house being at least 100 years old, and a garage having fallen in this area at one point, there is quite a nasty mix of debris under the sod. Bricks, nails, broken glass, etc. Even found an antique motorcycle part or two down there. Throw in the rocks that were seemingly discarded at random throughout the yard (scraps from the stone foundation?) and I think my labor is better spent building these bins and leaving the ground alone. =) My knees aren't in the best of shape, either, and leaning over a raised structure is *much* easier than being on the ground weeding and tending.
In addition, there's a white walnut (butternut) tree on the property, within 15-20 yards of this area, and all I read tells me that the root system secretes toxins that stunt other plant growth. It will be coming down within a couple years, so that I can erect a garage, but for now it stays put. Nice shade for my BBQ area, and my little girl likes to climb in it. =)
This leads to my second question; I plan on starting a compost heap this year for use next year. Is it safe to assume that I should avoid the leaves from the butternut tree being mixed in with the other leaves? (two different varieties of maple, and some sort of hybrid tree I can't seem to identify.) Will just a few hurt the mix?
Thanks for enduring the lengthly post, and any advice that may be available. =)