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Thread: Raised beds

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    48

    Raised beds

    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.

  2. #2
    Raised beds
    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.

  3. #3
    When you address 'raised beds' are you referring to soil mounds or using a structure to build your raise beds?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    48
    Yes there will be a lot of dirt to bring in, 12 yards. But the ground there right now will not support much. In fact the flowers that are growing there were in potting soil of some kind. I want some sand in the mix because I am going to be growing root crops, and unless there is a relatively large percentage of mulch in the soil, I am afraid it will compact and my carrots will be round like radishes.

    I have not decided if I will be putting in a drip or not, but at some point in the future I will be. I will be planting a lot of different veggies, but being unemployed, I need to watch my spending.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    15
    Randy - Remember that I see everything from a perspective of the hot, humid deep south. I don't know nything about your Oregon conditions - except that it rains a lot and everything stays wet all the time - and wet wood rots!

    I didn't look closely enough at the photo. This morning I enlarged it and I don't like what I see - several very serious problems - which I hate to pont-out now that they're done - but Lynn hasn't started her's yet. Randy, I see real trouble there (1) your corner posts appear to be sitting on pads - no good! They need to be sunk at least two feet, preferably concreted, and be no less than 4X4. (2) There's a lot of pressure on the sides of a box that large when the soil gets saturated and you need a heavy post in the middle of those 8' sides for sure, and I would put them all 2' apart. (3) Most serious of all, the posts have to be on the OUTSIDE of the box. The fasteners, whether screws, nails or small carriage bolts, will pull right out when the wood softens. (4) finally, the side boards ae usually sunk in the ground a couple inches. There appears to be an air space under the box - never seen a raised bed built like that, because you'll loose moisture too fast.

    Randy, from what I see there, if I'm looking right, wouldn't last a month here - even with treated lumber. In fact, I don't think they're built strongly enough to even support the load of the dirt - especially if you used screws or nails. I would urge you to disassemble those, sink some heavy treated posts, treat the lumber you have with a preservative - or buy treated boards. I don't think the treated lumber presents any hazard. Your only realistic, long-term alterntive would .be masonry - especially in that wet climate. That lumber you have would make good forms for poured concrete walls.

    One other tip - I would make them 16" ft long instead of 8, so you don't have so many separate zones if you install a drip system later. I'm sorry to do this and I hope you understand I'm just being honest - for the sake of others. And I hope you don't buy expensive top soil to fill those boxes until you rebuild them.

    Jack

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    48
    Hey all from the driveway to the raised beds in the back yard. I said I would keep an update going, so here it is. Nearly 12 wheelbarrow loads in each raised bed. 6 yards of soil.....I am so sore :)

    Hope you enjoy.............

    more beds.JPGbeds with soil.JPGpile.JPG

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    1
    wow 6 yards... i thought three was bad. it's good feeling when you finish isn't it?

    this is my first year to have an official garden. i made three raised beds with 2x10 (treated). it's been a great experience thus far, but we'll see how the rest of the season goes. good luck with yours!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    48
    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.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    15
    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.

    Jack
    Last edited by eltejano; 01-28-2010 at 02:40 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    48
    Jack, I appreciate the concern...... It does rain here a lot, but I have limited resources as well as things that I can and can not do. Just so you know, I have been talking to several peopel locally, and YES the depth is DEEP. But if I bring in top soil with out any real ammendments in it for the bottom half, and bring in the lighter soil for the top, I do not believe I will be popping the sides. They may bow, yes, but I can not go into the ground in this are more then about 8" because of the rocks and clay. This is over an existing creek bed that was covered over in the 60's to build the homes. I will only be getting enuff soil for one bed at a time. As well, I have been talking to a lot of local people here, and they have told me that the wood should last 5-10 years, and I know I can not get much more then that even with the treated lumber.

    The gap under is because the soil is lower in the front then the planting curb this is sitting on. I have no idea why people would put in a planter curb, then plant arbovitae, which was there when I bought the place. I will fill the gap with dirt when I get it.

    Again thanks for the concern.

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