birdhouse-lady
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Posts: 23
Joined: Wed Mar 15, 2006 8:19 pm
Location: Bandera, TX

What's best height for raised bed for vegetables?

I need to put in a raised bed for tomatoes, green beans etc. What's the best height for best results? There is only about 4 or 5 inches of topsoil in my yard before you hit limestone!

grandpasrose
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Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2005 4:21 pm
Location: Quesnel, BC, Canada - Zone 4a

Hi Birdhouse Lady! Raised beds are the way to go!
Most plants don't need soil any deeper than 12" or so, but tomatoes are deep drinkers, so I would go a little deeper than that, probably about 14". After that, it's a matter of preference. Alot of people make them deeper so that they are easier to reach (higher) and you don't have to bend over as much. My own raised beds are about 22" deep.

Be sure not to make your bed too wide. Make sure you can reach the centre from each side of the bed, otherwise you will always be reaching to get to the middle. Also, if you are making more than one raised bed, make sure the paths between are wide enough. It should be wide enough to get your wheelbarrow through at least (30" is a nice width - depending on your wheelbarrow). Often people make the paths too narrow, and by the time the plants have grown in, there is no place to walk!

Growing in raised beds is much better for your soil as well. You are only adding nutrients to the garden bed, instead of the paths as well. You don't walk all over the garden, just the paths, so the garden soil doesn't get packed down. They also have better drainage, and warm up faster in the spring. You also can grow your plants closer together, getting more production for your space, and not letting as many weeds grow in between!

When you build your raised bed, make sure you fill it with nice healthy soil. Add lots of organic matter such as shredded leaves, compost, well rotted manure, kelp, etc. and your tomatoes and beans will love it!

Hope this helps! Enjoy it - I love raised beds! :wink:

Val
VAL (Grandpa's Rose)

birdhouse-lady
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Posts: 23
Joined: Wed Mar 15, 2006 8:19 pm
Location: Bandera, TX

Many thanks. I got a source for FREE railroad ties and we're picking up a dozen or so this week-end. I have five other raised beds (for my lilies, daylilies, iris, etc) made from landscape timbers (4x8) and 4 high. I left 36" pathways between them, but I think I'm going to go 40"+ on these vegetable beds. I just didn't know if I needed to stack them 2 timbers high for the veggie roots! I might just make one bed deeper for tomatoes and leave the others 12" or 1 tie high.

grandpasrose
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Posts: 1651
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2005 4:21 pm
Location: Quesnel, BC, Canada - Zone 4a

A note of caution, although it's tempting to use free materials, railroad ties have been treated with creosote and other chemicals that will slowly leach into your garden soil, poisoning your garden. Unless you are planning to line your garden with plastic, or seal the ties with some sort of coating, I would re-consider using them for edible garden plants. Maybe use them for flowers and shrubs, and something safer for the vegetables.
There is more information regarding this in the Landscaping Forum under the topic "Ick...railroad ties and motor oil".

Your heights, and widths of paths sound perfect! Good Luck and have fun!! :wink:

Val
VAL (Grandpa's Rose)

opabinia51
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Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 9:58 pm
Location: Victoria, BC

Use soil that contains a lot of organic material so that it will hold onto water as raised beds tend to dry out very quickly.

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