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Thread: Raised beds

  1. #11
    My given soil at my home was very very very hard pan soil. I had to dump 160 yards of top soil to get my garden started.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    15
    Great looking beds, Randy. You'll need to closely monitor the moisture, though, having them that high. You probably have heavier soil than I do. I have sandy loam and it doesn't hold water at all - it can rain 2" and three days later it's bone dry! The beauty of raised beds is that you can ceate any kind of soil you want.

    Are you going to put-in drip irrigation? If so, don't use those old emitters. There's a great new product on the market called "drip tape." You can google that and read all abouit it. It buries under, or near the plants, operates at 8lbs pressure and can be put on a timer. You can also add soluble fertilizer to the irrigation water if you want. You have a pretty good sized garden there and hand watering may be too time consuming.

    Lynn, I'm in East Texas and yellow pine would rot out very quickly here. Cedar or redwood or some sort of hardwood would be better, but costly. Perhaps you may want to check a little further on the newer treated lumber. I think it's much less toxic now than before. Or maybe you could consider cement blocks or brick - very attracive and lasts forever! I really hate to see you go to all that work with pine. Here in the Pineywoods we have lots of free pine timber and one time I used yellow pine logs for raised beds - they were completely rotted in two years. A stack of pine firewood lasts for one year outside. A lot of this depends on your location, though. Unless you're in Arizona lol, I would check a little further into the treated wood - I really don't think you would get any contamination to the plants. Good Luck with the project.

    Jack

  3. #13
    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.

  4. #14
    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

  5. #15
    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.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    15
    I'm sure relieved I didn't make you mad! :-) Even if the sides do pop - and I hope they don't - you will still be able to save the topsoil - or most of it anyway. Our sandy loam is so easy to dig that I forget that many people have to deal with ground that's hard as a rock. Despite your wet weather, perhaps your climate isn't hot enough to support all the wood-eating organisms we have to deal with. We have every nasty critter there is - 4-legged, 6-legged and no-legged. Oh yeah, 2-legged also - crows are a constant battle. Can't plant watermelons at all because of them! My 22 acres borders on a 4800 acre hunting club and I had to spend thousands on fences to keep their blasted deer out of my garden areas! We have leaf-cutter ants that, if not controlled chemically, will strip an entire patch of okra clean of foliage in a single night!

    That's why my 15-year struggle to garden organically, from 1980 to 1995, failed completely. My neighbors all laughed at me. I finally grew weary of their harvesting loads of beautiful vegetables with Triple 13 and Sevin dust while I managed only a few bug-eaten, ugly ones - and that was in the best years! So, "if ya can't beat 'em, join 'em." I could tell ya a lot of funny, and some not-so-funny, stories about all that. I'm 74 years old and have gardened all my life. I might have done better if I had had access to all the internet info we have at our fingertips nowadays. All I had was Rodale's magazine and that was mostly northern-oriented.

    For future reference, there is a lot to be said for cement blocks as an alternative for those who don't like treated lumber. The worst part of that job is digging a level trench for the first layer to sit on - and handling those heavy bags of Stacrete to fill them with isn't too much fun either! :-)

    Looking forward to seeing how your new garden goes. I'm in the process of planting tomato seeds in flats - we plant them on 3/15 here.

    Best of luck!

    Jack

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    48
    Jack - I am too old to worry about what is said in forums or blogs unless they are actually flaming...... I have decided to compromise this year by removing the top board on the front (long side) for a number of reasons, the most important is the cost of bringing in that much soil. I will bring in high end soil tho, as I now have no reason to layer it. I will keep the other boards and in the future add them, if I decide. Otherwise there are the replacements for when the others rot out. I am going to leave the sides 2' tall to help protect my plants from the drying and damaging winds we sometimes get.

    Thanks again for your concerns, and do not be concerned that I will get upset and STOP posting. This is a free Country and forum. If I feel attacked, I will simply ask the administrator to close the thread. We all need to understand that criticism/concerns/suggestions should not be taken personally......

    Have a great week.

    PS I do not use any pesticides because in the past, they still got their fair share anyway. And if I am concerned about the treated wood, why would I ask you or me to ingest POISON? Does not make sense. I use safer soap products, or an equal brand, even on my roses. I did not use any slug/snail bait last year in my containers, but may be forced to find an organic treatment for them as the beds will be huge. If I had opossums, they would take care of them.....

    randy

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    15
    I could send you some possoms - but I don't think they'd be very happy in your climate LOL - they'd dig tunnels under your house foundation, Very damaging critters, but the dogs kill them and eat them. What I need I is an Anteater to eat these leaf-cutter ants.LOL

    Jack

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    48
    We have plenty here, just none here where I live......

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    15
    Well, I'll be! I had no idea possums ranged up into that country. Always thought they were just inthe South. Learn sumthin' every day.

    Jack

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