I wanted to start a new topic, but did not see the opportunity, so I will be posting here. I am going to be planting my vegetables in raised beds this year. I will keep everyone up-to-date on the progress. Onions, carrots, herbs, lettuce, beans, squash, cukes, leeks, tomatoes, peppers and maybe radishes. I will have 5 beds 4'x8'x2'deep, or so, with soil mixture of sand, dirt and compost. I am in Oregon, so this should be fun.
I am working on restoring a raised bed for my gardening this year. My garden was destroyed last year by hurricane Ike. I believe this is my 4th try at a vegetable garden. The first one, I raised the garden by 4". Invested in plants and seeds, planned it carefully to ensure that the items that required moist soil were together, did everything to make it look great except; choose the spot before the trees began to bloom. By spring it was not enough sun. The second year I changed locations and tried again, it rained unseasonably for us and all my vegetables were ruined. The cucumbers were 18" long and filled with water. Just horrible! In 2008, I got it right! Again, raised the garden and filled it with great soil. I had one 4x8 sheet of lattice erected for the vine plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, and green beans. They were plentiful, even after fighting and winning a flea infestation. The peppers, collard green plant, lettuce, carrots, mint, basil, strawberries, everything was good! Then the hurricane and debris from the restoration killed it. The only thing that survived was the rosemary and my lemon tree. So, Mr/Ms Raised Beds, let's do it! I am in Houston and I will keep everyone up-to-date too.
When you address 'raised beds' are you referring to soil mounds or using a structure to build your raise beds?
I am not sure who you are asking, but I am using dimensional lumber to make sure the plants actually have good soil to grow in. Our ground here is hard packed clay about 12" deep. I will not be using treated lumber tho as I do not want the possibility of the preservatives leeching into the dirt and contaminating my food. I know I will need to replace the wood in a few years, but the alternative is not an option.
The treated lumber won't contaminate your food or harm your plants. My extension agent told me, years ago, that the preservative chemicals are not systemic and will not be taken-up by the plants - nor will it kill worms and other soil organisms. Soil tests within 2" of treated wood show a very slight elevation of inorganic arsenic, but well within acceptable levels. Farther than 2", there is no trace of arsenic above normal background amounts. The newer preservatives are arsenic free because of all the - mostly needless - worry about it.
People around here have used womanized tomato stakes for years. I never heard of anyone getting sick or having any other problems with it.
Last edited by eltejano; 01-28-2010 at 02:40 AM.
Thanks, but I do know that the wood is treated with stuff that is NO doubt not good for us. So I bought the regular lumber at 1/2 the price as treated wood. In fact as I think I previously stated, the "deck wood" is not rated for ground contact anyway, so there is no reason to take a chance. But thanks. I know there have been arguments both ways for over 20 years, and each side of the argument bring great information to the table.
Reason for raised beds
My question is what is the reason for raised beds and I am asking this out of ignorance. I was raised on a farm and still have a garden every year (just can't get it out of my system). We never had raised beds although I am always interested in learning newer things and better ways.
That said, do you have raised beds if you are limited on space (I have 6 acres so no shortage of space) or is it a way to have a garden in a confined area. Is a raised bed only if it is contained in like a box? Is it because it makes the soil softer and lighter for a more plant depth?
I am considering making raised beds this year although it will be time consuming I want to see what the advantages or disavantages are.
Thanks aheah for your answers and your help,
It's better to be safe than sorry, that's for sure. I've noticed that the new treated lumber all seems to say "above ground only" - and it doesn't have that green color - doesn't even look like womanized lumber anymore! I've always used womanized landscape timbers for fence posts - a lot cheaper than 4X4's - but the batch I just bought for an electric fence has that disclaimer. I used them anyway and may have to replace them in a couple years :-) Hopefully they will hold-up a little longer than untreated lumber. We used to use creosote in the old days, but the termites still got to it.
I gardened with boxed-in beds for years. The main advantage is containment of soil amendments and nutrients, and better drainage. They are more compact and well-defined in a backyard situation - and they look nice. Another advantage is you can make it level. My yard is sloped, complicating gravity irrigation, and I was able to build the beds level on top. I now garden 3 acres but my wife still uses the beds for her daylilies - and she loves them. If I were still gardening on a small scale I would use boxed-in beds. The main disadvantage for me was getting a tiller and mower in and out of them.
Let's use first names - easier to remember. I'm Jack
Last edited by eltejano; 01-30-2010 at 03:44 AM.
I actually replied, but hit the X.......
As Jack indicated, I want to be able to control the soil and fertilizer, and here in Oregon, it can be a bit soggy in the summer. So I built 5 raised beds (boxes) that are nearly 2' deep. I have attached a picture of them so you can see. I made them so tall because I do not want to be bening down to harvest, and weeding will be a lot easier. They measure 4'x8', so getting into the middle back will be a challenge, but I have a step stool for that. I placed these beds against the fence, and put corrugated vinyl behind the beds so the dirt will not rot out the fence.
Jack, I know you can still purchase Wolmanized lumber here, but it is usually from a lumber store, and not a Lowes or Home DEpot. The farm store here, has fence posts that are treated for ground contact, but theyt are expensive.
Have a great weekend....................Randy
Wow! your beds are really raised. They look great! That's a lot of soil.
My reason for raising my little garden is to have better soil. The ground in my yard is clay, by early May, it is solid. The first time we did not add any soil and it was very hard for the water to get to the plants unless there was a major rain or you ran the water for hours. The soil in the bed is a better quality, it;s loose. I would love to raise it higher just to keep my dog away.
Before I read your inputs, I placed a call to my favorite store, Wabash, to ask their opnion about the treated lumber. But, even before getting a call back, I have already decided that I will just use yellow pine. One of the purposes of my gardening efforts is to get away from chemicals, in addition to my family history of a backyard garden and my love of working outside. There is nothing like a tomatoe, cucumber, pepper and greens from the backyard! Hummmmm, I can't wait.