Raised Bed (Small) What To Use?

Hi there...
Living in an apartment block, I only have a very small bit of actual land. Most of my plants this year are planned for buckets.
But I do have an area totally maybe 3 square metres (about 3 sq yrds?) right up in front of the building. So I figure that I might as well use it.
I hand-tilled the area a couple of days ago, and, maybe 5-10 cm down, ran into a plastic woven mat, and, apparantly, solid rock.
My new idea is to buy some "garden edging," which is a bunch of small wood rectangles wired together on the back. http://www.mitre10.co.nz/products/item.asp?iCatego ryID=9&lSKUc5886&loggedinϊlse
This will help with building up a small bed, with maybe 20-25 cm of soil depth.
So, for 3 sq metres, and adding, say 10 new cm of soil...
What should I use? The closest/easiest thing is "potting mix" with peat and bark. (That is what I am using for my bucket-bound plants.) I can go downtown for some sheep manure if that would be better, though. (I live in the 'burbs, so a truckload of horse manure, etc, is out of the question.)
And, generally, I am very interested in suggestions for veggies that will work with that soil depth. I am doing a bit of research to find the best spacing. Since this is my first year, and I a focussed upon just learning, I am open to anything. My plans include maybe some lettuce, broccoli, capsicum (bell pepper), and ??? (Whatever will fit.
(Tomatoes are scheduled for late Oct, in 20-litre buckets.)
Thanks in advance for your advice!
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On Sun, 31 Aug 2003 02:44:23 -0700, Down Under On The Bucket Farm

http://www.squarefootgardening.com /
may be of some help. Many garden veg have relatively shallow roots, so you don't have to have great depth in your raised bed (I've grown lettuce in an old dresser drawer!). I'd skip the carrots, although there *are* super-short varieties. One concern might be drainage, if it *is* solid rock beneath. But if you haven't noticed pooling of water in the area, it probably has some way to run off.
Funny, the subject of sheep manure doesn't come up often. Cow, chicken, rabbit, and horse is all good ('though horse manure tends to be weedy).
Good luck.
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In article

I am figuring on carrots going into buckets - maybe three per 10-litre bucket, starting from seeds in ummmm... "late spring" say the seed packages? (Maybe Nov. 15 or so...)

I think that drainage is OK, since my area is in between similar/adjacent areas for the neighbours. I will put the edging a bit above the bottom level (where the rock is), so there can be drainage out to the sides. Had rain yesterday, and the tilled area didn't have much pooling, esp after the rain stopped.

Here in NZ, the sheep out-number the humans about eleven-to-one. We probably have the world's highest per-capita supply of sheep manure :p

Thanks to you, and to everybody else who replied!
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Given your situation, I'd first lay out where I was going to put the bed. Then I'd take the dirt in that area down to the plastic mat and put it in a pile with an equal amount of sand and the compost that you're going to use. Add equal amounts of blood meal, bone meal, and wood ash (not from a bbq, from wood that has been burnt) to make up the rest of what you have. The dirt from the patch will add the bacteria to the rest of the mix, you need that for a healthy bed. Then put up your construct, but don't sink it down below the level of the original yard, better if you leave a bit of the original arround the edge so that it sits up. This way you've given a good 5-10 cm for water to drain from the bed. Then fill the bed with your mix. I'd water it down about halfway through the filling, it helps with making sure that the initial plantings have a good bed. Water the whole thing once your done, but never, ever step in it.
Hope this helps, Philip
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snipped-for-privacy@the-domain-in.sig writes:

I'll pass on to you what I told my middle son when he installed raised beds this spring. His were placed on a water-bound clay soil.
We were able to get a load of horse manure for him to put straight on the bottom for about a 4-inch thickness. On top of that, he put horse manure mixed 50/50 with his existing soil. Their garden this year has done exceptionally well, truly one to be very pleased with.
I would think the sheep manure could be used in the same way and produce much the same results.
It shouldn't be a worry about putting the straight manure on the bottom because the earthworms are going to be working through this and mix it well. It also gives a good organic base to your garden area.
BTW, my son purchased his raised bed materials from the source I requested earlier this year, http://www.ecologicalsgardens.com for those of you who might be interested. They are very pleased with the beds, especially the bounty which, of course, has little to do with the construction material but everything to do with what goes into the bed as its basis (manure, soil, etc.) and the care (both sunlight and water) after planting.
I always put the horse manure as the bottom layer in my pots (very large for potatoes and tomatoes), usually 6-8 inches, and fill the remainder (12-24 inches) with good ol' plain garden soil, which in my case is last year's horse-manured prepared and used one season. They have worked well for me when I properly water them. It's always a bit amazing at the end of the season when the pots are dumped back into the garden how many earthworms are still working away, doing their thing.
As always, your mileage may vary, but that's what works here.
Glenna
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<snip> BTW, my son purchased his raised bed materials from the source I requested earlier this year, http://www.ecologicalsgardens.com for those of you who might be interested. They are very pleased with the beds, especially the bounty which, of course, has little to do with the construction material but everything to do with what goes into the bed as its basis (manure, soil, etc.) and the care (both sunlight and water) after planting.
<endsnip>
Now, Glenna. OF COURSE the bounty has EVERYTHING to do with the materials! :) Seriously. Good to hear that the product was suitable and thanks for the kind words.
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Down Under On The Bucket Farm wrote:

All of those roots will go deeper than your soil if permitted but should still manage okay despite being shallow. Is it possible that you could drive some stakes into the ground and fasten a second row of that edging to them?
The soil mix recommendation you were given is a good one. You might also consider (if adding that seconds layer) filling the first layer with straw, manure, etc. which will be well along in its break-down by the time the plant roots enter that zone. Moreover, having straw for a bottom layer is much like having a sponge down there. It's all good.
Oh ... and congrats on having spied out this parcel to grow in, however small.
Bill
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On Sun, 31 Aug 2003 02:44:23 -0700, Down Under On The Bucket Farm

Squash :) heheh, maybe they'll only complain when it starts covering everyones cars and climbing up to everyones windows <g>
Dan
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Check and see if your municipality has a composting program. If so, you might be able to buy city compost for the cost of delivery. For $50 in my area, I can get a tonne delivered to my doorsteps. These compost piles are made from grass clippings and leaves gathered in the fall so I tend to find Holloween candy wrappers mixed into the compost. :)
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On 1 Sep 2003 19:56:27 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Pen) wrote:

In some places where I've lived, you could go and pick up compost yourself - free. I don't think they delivered, but at least you could go and get it.
Our current town does NOT do this: shame on them. They collect leaves too, I don't know what they do with them.
Pat
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snipped-for-privacy@the-domain-in.sig writes:

Hmmmm. That means if each person had their *average* sheep population, I'd have eleven in my back yard. That would certainly supply me with enough fertilizer for my garden . . . the question would be, for how many years?
LOL
Glenna
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snipped-for-privacy@shaw.ca writes:

Thank you for the hearty chuckle, John. Only us gardeners know the truth.<g> I'm amazed at those people I know who consider how their garden looks as more important than what goes into it . . . and then wonder why my garden yields better. I tell them that horse manure base makes a difference but they "would never consider putting *that stuff*" in their gardens.
Oh well, their loss.
You are welcome. The beds look nice in their yards also which is important because his mother-in-law is one of the "pretty yard" people, regardless of what it costs ecologically. The latest thing from her has been my 4-year-old granddaughter who just tracked in dirt from the garden telling me, "You have dirt on your floor, G.G. Grandma <name omitted> doesn't ever have dirt on her floor." (I can only imagine where that came from!) I just smiled and said, "This is garden dirt, and garden dirt is good dirt because it grows such good food." She looked at me thoughtfully and said, "Yeah, you're right, G.G. We need garden dirt" and happily started washing her hands with which she had just dug carrots and potatoes. :-)
Glenna
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squarefootgardening.com will help you with spacing. Also you should consider if you can grow vertically (also covered there). Using a frame you grow things up rather than allow them to sprawl along the ground consuming more ground space.
I think it is important to grow what you eat and worry less about the depth. Carrots will grow they just won't be straight, and shorter varieties exist. For salad I prefer multiple types of lettuce, spinach, radishes, carrots, snow peas or snap peas, peppers & tomatoes. I love onion and garlic. You can also read up on succession planting. Early spring plants can be planted to share an area with late summer. I had radishes, lettuces, spinach, snap peas and short carrots around my pepper and tomato plants. By the time the early crops harvested and died the tomatoes and peppers started to take off and overshadow them. FOr some carrots the timing was off, I ended up with tiny carrots(not enough sun towards the end)
Squash, melons, cucumbers all like to sprawl so you'll benefit from growing them vertically at the north end of the plot and keeping them manageable. It seems to me that plants only grow as large as their root systems can maintain. If there isn't enough depth/footage you may end up with a smaller plant with fewer fruits, but it will grow. Rich soil amendments and consistent moisture compensate some for small space.
Interplanting herbs and flowers are said to be beneficial. Nasturtiums successfully attracted aphids and kept them off my other plants. Thyme, Oregano, Parsley, Chives, Sage are all intermixed in corners of big pots and around the big plants. (Oregano is in a separate pot-it can spreads like a weed). Dill is very tall and Basil can be a small bush to itself. DiGiTAL ViNYL (no email) Zone 6b/7, Westchester Co, NY, 1 mile off L.I.Sound 1st Year Gardener
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On Tue, 09 Sep 2003 14:19:08 +0000, DigitalVinyl wrote:

I just happened to notice this posting. I'd like to make a small revision of this paragraph. Since the original poster lives south of the equator, I think he'll want he vining crops trellised on the SOUTH side of the garden. The idea of trellising either north or south is to allow all the plants a chance at the sun ... only shading varieties (such as lettuces) that need a bit of shelter from heat.
Bill
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