New raised bed

Im new here, so firstly...Hello to all.
Being new to vegetable growing I thought it best to ask some advic before I start digging. I have an 8ft x 6ft area to work with. I was thinking of a 8ft x 4f bed so I can easily reach from each side.
1. How deep should I make the bed and should I dig into the curren soil or build this bed on top and use a liner as I have seen suggeste elsewhere?
2. Are there any types of treated timber I should avoid or is this th reason of using a liner?
3. When should I prepare the bed for planting out next year.
4. What topsoil / manure / compost combination should I use to fil it?
5. Know of any good books to stop me asking what may be obviou questions?
Kind Regards Bria
-- tvrchimaera
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Ahem.. all garden books are the same..?
I agree they hit the main points (after all, there are only a handful) but IMO there are worlds of differences.
So.. Bob Thompson, Eliot Coleman - first rate gardener/authors. Ruth Stout.. I missed any references she may have made to the fact that her "no-weed" (no-work?) garden required TONS of mulch materials.. Moving that amount of stuff qualifies as work in my book :)
Is there a reading list on this NG? Search for it, might have some directions to point you in.
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Jerry Baker also makes a good book called "Easy, Easy Vegetable Garden" and it is quite helpful. Its my first year too, and I live in the California Bay Area. Soil is VERY IMPORTANT, as i learned the hard way. I have a 12ft x 24ft. garden with a variety of veggies, and when i started, i figured that since i had really bad soil (all rocky and lots of clay) i better get a rotatiller and mix in fertilizer. I mixed in 10 bags of manure, hoping that would be enough. However, i planted my heirloom tomatoes in april, and their only about 3ft. high and not full at all! My tomatoes (big red, heirloom, roma, and cherry) are still really small and not very thick and full. None of my garden is growing very well (healthy, but VERY SLOW at growing). So, i would say, if you think your soil is bad, do a raised bed, or really go through your soil with a rotatiller and sifter and get all the clay and rocks out of the soil and put A LOT of fertilizer, compost, and vitamins in it (like vitamin b)
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BenGman wrote:

You don't want to get rid of *all* the clay--you want some inorganic material in your soil for minerals. You also have to be careful with your compost/manure....both need to be well composted, or they will actually reduce the amount of nitrogen availabe to your plants. If you get compost from a city leaf collection program, it's rarely "cooked" all the way. OK to use as mulch (and will be better broken down into the soil by next year), but not to mix into where the plants' roots are growing.
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Ah.. pretty much the same.. shoulda kept that window open. OK then :D
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Can depend upon the plant. Tomatoes can use 18" deep. TYpically raised beds are only 4-12". Rich soil makes up for a lot but the root zone size adds to the plants stenght growth and crop. Heavily compacted roots can dry out soil quickly, so big plants in small spaces leads to greater frequent watering needs to support that plants. Deeper roots and deep watering help.
I prepared my richest beds by digging up 18" of ground, sifting rocks and debris out, mixing in composted manure(1-2yr old), humus, peat/sphagnum moss, greensand, perlite/vermicullite, and a variety of fertilizers (ammonium sulfate, phosphate, bloodmeal, bone meal, slow release) and terrasorb(potasium based water retention crystals). I did it throughout the root zone, not just the top 6 inches.
It was a tremendous amount of work with a 14 sq feet taking me pretty much two days. But i have rock/debris-free beds, and literally no clay. I've found huge stones just a few inches down. That is going to limit root and plant size. I get great results in small areas. Adding material with water rentention (peat, perlite/vermiculite, terraorb/soil moist) in mind is important IMHO. Inconsistent watering wekakens plants, enables diseases, and cvan mess up harvests. Anything I can do to sheilds the plants from my neglect the better.

Careful of treated lumber. Chemicals do leech both into the lumber and back out and into the soil. If you don't like the idea of using chemicals to treat your garden, you may feel the same about chemically treated lumber. It should last longer though.

Whenever you have time now. During the hot summer you can solarize it. Black grabage bag the top and bake it for weeks during the hot summer. I think you should water it a few time to try and force weeds to propigate then die back under the plastic. It frys the weeds. If you want to try and keep it weed free afterwards you can use landscaping fabric till you set out plants in late winter/spring, or now for onion/garlic overwinters.

I believe in variety. Copy nature. A little of everything. Manure should be well-composted, 1-2 years i've seen recommended. Fresh manure is chemically hot and can burn plants.

check out the square foot gardening website. It has updates to the square foot (by bartholemew) book from twenty years ago. The book is worthwhile, but has no updates since the 70's. The website does.
If you work with containers or not "Bountiful Container" stuckey & mcgee is awesome. I constantly refer back to it.

DiGiTAL ViNYL (no email) Zone 6b/7, Westchester Co, NY, <1 mile off L.I.Sound 3rd year gardener http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/royalfrazier/album?.dir=/2055&.src=ph
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One advantage of raised beds that we have found is that we put aviary wire on the bottoms. It keeps out the gophers and the roots can still go into the soil underneath. "Our" gophers are a real pain. We have a very nice are enclosed with a 8 foot fence(deer problems also), but can't seem to get rid of the gophers. There are so many things on the market to get rid of them , that we don't know what would really work. Anna
wrote: | | >Im new here, so firstly...Hello to all. | > | >Being new to vegetable growing I thought it best to ask some advice | >before I start digging. | >I have an 8ft x 6ft area to work with. I was thinking of a 8ft x 4ft | >bed so I can easily reach from each side. | > | >1. How deep should I make the bed and should I dig into the current | >soil or build this bed on top and use a liner as I have seen suggested | >elsewhere? | Can depend upon the plant. Tomatoes can use 18" deep. TYpically raised | beds are only 4-12". Rich soil makes up for a lot but the root zone | size adds to the plants stenght growth and crop. Heavily compacted | roots can dry out soil quickly, so big plants in small spaces leads to | greater frequent watering needs to support that plants. Deeper roots | and deep watering help. | | I prepared my richest beds by digging up 18" of ground, sifting rocks | and debris out, mixing in composted manure(1-2yr old), humus, | peat/sphagnum moss, greensand, perlite/vermicullite, and a variety of | fertilizers (ammonium sulfate, phosphate, bloodmeal, bone meal, slow | release) and terrasorb(potasium based water retention crystals). I did | it throughout the root zone, not just the top 6 inches. | | It was a tremendous amount of work with a 14 sq feet taking me pretty | much two days. But i have rock/debris-free beds, and literally no | clay. I've found huge stones just a few inches down. That is going to | limit root and plant size. I get great results in small areas. Adding | material with water rentention (peat, perlite/vermiculite, | terraorb/soil moist) in mind is important IMHO. Inconsistent watering | wekakens plants, enables diseases, and cvan mess up harvests. Anything | I can do to sheilds the plants from my neglect the better. | | | >2. Are there any types of treated timber I should avoid or is this the | >reason of using a liner? | Careful of treated lumber. Chemicals do leech both into the lumber and | back out and into the soil. If you don't like the idea of using | chemicals to treat your garden, you may feel the same about chemically | treated lumber. It should last longer though. | | >3. When should I prepare the bed for planting out next year. | Whenever you have time now. During the hot summer you can solarize it. | Black grabage bag the top and bake it for weeks during the hot summer. | I think you should water it a few time to try and force weeds to | propigate then die back under the plastic. It frys the weeds. If you | want to try and keep it weed free afterwards you can use landscaping | fabric till you set out plants in late winter/spring, or now for | onion/garlic overwinters. | | | >4. What topsoil / manure / compost combination should I use to fill | >it? | | I believe in variety. Copy nature. A little of everything. | Manure should be well-composted, 1-2 years i've seen recommended. | Fresh manure is chemically hot and can burn plants. | | | >5. Know of any good books to stop me asking what may be obvious | >questions? | | check out the square foot gardening website. It has updates to the | square foot (by bartholemew) book from twenty years ago. The book is | worthwhile, but has no updates since the 70's. The website does. | | If you work with containers or not "Bountiful Container" stuckey & | mcgee is awesome. I constantly refer back to it. | >Kind Regards | >Brian | | DiGiTAL ViNYL (no email) | Zone 6b/7, Westchester Co, NY, <1 mile off L.I.Sound | 3rd year gardener | http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/royalfrazier/album?.dir=/2055&.src=ph
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tvrchimaera wrote:

I made mine 8" and 10". In hindsight or when we decide to add another bed, we will double the depth for root vegetables even though we have had good luck in the 10" beds

I would avoid treated lumber. Ours was constructed of plain, inexpensive spruce lumber. We didn't use a liner although you can line the sides with plastic to help with moisture retention and the lifespan of the wood sides. My theory is the wood is only going to last so long anyway so we didn't use a liner.

Depends on where you are. We used our beds the first year we built them.

I used a 1/3 ratio for each the first year. At the end of the year I covered the top of the beds with mulched leaves and straw. The straw was a bad idea! I ended up burning that off (funny story) and churning the soil mixture a bit. I may try doing that again next year as my garden is going right wild at the moment.

I have 5 raised beds all using the square foot gardening method. I highly recommend that method for raised beds. Do a google for Matthew Barthemew's (spelling?) website. He has a lot of great tips. I really like the stepped raised beds!

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Absolutely the only way to go. Square foot gardening, especially when you build them on posts 4 feet high.
Do a google using "square foot gardening" too.
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On Fri, 1 Jul 2005 14:05:39 +0000, tvrchimaera
Hello Brian
In my opinion, raised beds are the only way to go. I make mine out of 2" x 12" x 10' long. I bought 2- 2" x 12" x 12" long pressure treated pine boards and cut 2' off of each board and put the frame together with decking screws. I place the frames in their final resting place and mark the outline with a shovel. I then skim the surface of the ground and remove all the grass. I then cut a piece of landscaping fabric a couple of inches larger than the frames and set the frames on top of the fabric. I made two of these frames. This year I bought a pickup truck load (I think it was about a half cubic yard) of mushroom compost and that was my only growing medium. I planted three tomato plants in each of these frames and fertilized with some dried chicken manure and this has been my best growing year ever. I picked my first vine ripe Celebrity tomato the second week of June. I live in central Alabama.
The only two things that money can't buy, and that's true love and home grown tomatos.
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wrote:

Do a google search on "square foot gardening". The older, and lazier, you get the more you will like it. I'm not so sure I would use pressure treated lumber though.
-- Make it just one gnat to email.
J.C.
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