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.
| >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
| 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
| 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
| 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
| DiGiTAL ViNYL (no email)
| Zone 6b/7, Westchester Co, NY, <1 mile off L.I.Sound
| 3rd year gardener