Just wondering what you all think of raised beds for vegetable gardens
as opposed to ground level gardens.
It's a good time of year to get all that planned out and in place so
looking for input.
My thought is that the raised beds will be easier to maintain and to
work in. My thought on that is more for the wifes sake since she has
back trouble that acts up from time to time.
I was thinking of just using treated 2x8s or so, standard toe nailed
framing with braces in the corners. Also thinking of stapling plastic
sheeting along the inside just to minimize the dirt to wood contact factor.
So, any thoughts on this, tips or tricks, etc?
Also make life easier where soil prep is concerned, no? That way I can
just dump in bags of good soil and compost as apposed to working with
the brick solid clay around here. ;)
I moved all of my vegetable gardens into raised beds two years ago, and
wish I had done it sooner.
I'd go (I went) with cedar, as opposed to treated lumber. Unless of course
you feel comfortable with that sheet of plastic protecting you from
leeching chemicals (I wouldn't).
Sink 4x4's as corner posts and bolt the side rails to them. I wouldn't
trust nails to hold moist soil.
I purchased quality garden mix, from a reputable, local company. It's much
cheaper than bags. ($20/yard. Mix consists of 50% river-bottom topsoil,
screened 3/8", 25% composted manure, screened 1/2", and 25% compost, also
screened 1/2".) It gets ammended each year, from my compost bin.
Spring prep was almost too easy. I was used to tilling and other manual
labor to get the garden ready, but prep now consists of blowing a few
leaves and sweetgum balls out of the beds, and raking them. I did that at
the time I would normally have tilled, and then went nuts waiting for the
temps to warm up, heh. The waiting was the hardest part. Though, the beds
heated up fairly well, as compared to the old garden.
my years of experience with growing produce have taught
me, consider the projected weather conditions regarding
availability of and frequency of rain. if the projections
are for a dry year then I flat bed so I can retain water by
trenching the rows. the technique slows the drainage and
reduces the need for manual irrigation. in years when there
is lots of rain I use a Farm implement known as a bedder to
bring up rows 8 to 10 inches in height to create better
building the raised beds being discussed here is not practical
when your garden consist of an acre or more.
these were both what I call flat bed gardens and both were
during drought years.
cedar, I call it the wood God made to last. there are fence
post on this Farm still standing long after the barbed wire
rusted broke and was removed. while standing next to one
of those old cedar post I can get a visual of great granddaddy
telling one of his boys how to dig the hole and it just might
have been granddaddy he was telling. nostalgia, yea it happens
when your family has occupied the same track of land for six
aren't nails just the temporary fastener used to hold things
together while the screws are being inserted?
Pretty well essential if you have heavy soil that needs drainage. Of course
they dry out quicker and need watering more often but that may not be such a
Yes to some extent. It may be worth adding a flat top so that she can sit on
the edge to work - assuming that twisting would not be worse than stooping or
Choose timber that is durable when in contact with the soil or you will be
re-building in a few years plastic or no. Such things exist but may not be
cheap. I cannot suggest anything in particular for another country but I
wouldn't suggest treated timber with heavy metals (ie CCA).
You may also need vertical members (stakes) to support the sides. They hold
better on the outside as they are not so dependant on fastenings but look
neater and stub your toe less on the inside. Make sure your fastenings are
rustproof (eg grey galvanised), ordinary nails will rust very soon. Long
sides on an impervious base (eg plastic clay) will need weep holes on the
Depending on the size you want to work on and how much you can afford for new
soil this may be a good choice. I would need to see your clay to have a view
about the prospects of ammending it.
I agree with you totally. The beauty you can create in levels, is
stupendous. More and more people are turning to these kinds of
gardens, they are easier to maintain. Simplicity and use of logs or
cut lumber adds to the whole beauty and atmosphere of the yard.
On Nov 4, 4:26 pm, email@example.com wrote:
I will be using brick and then over-cladding with sandstone tiles or
clumps to create a wonderfully natural setting. I want to install a
natural waterfall, archway, various raised beds etc., and clad them
all with sandstone. Drainage is very important as we have clay soil
here. Sometimes I wonder how people in the UK manage to grow anything
at all with their annual rainfall!
I totally agree with you, there is alot to be said for the easy
maintaintence of raised bed gardens. I also found that use of logs or
cut lumber in layering of the raised gardens can truly these magnify
the beauty and atmoshere of your yard. NRG
I used raised beds to use up the soil from digging my pond... LOL.
here are mine http://weloveteaching.com/landscape/gravel/gravel.htm
they are only 2 and 3 2x4s high. If you want 12" high, then make a stud wall
water proof plywood on inside, cement board or such on outside. I lined my
with plastic. every 4 feet I have tied the back and front together a little
the top of the dirt just to keep the bed from bowing out. it doesnt appear to
bowed at all. Ingrid
On Sat, 03 Nov 2007 20:44:03 -0500, Scott Hildenbrand
I'm not so sure it's going to help your wife. She'll end up sitting on the
edge and having to twist to reach things. Or, kneel on the edge, with her
legs hanging off behind her. If this makes no sense, go get a piece of 2x6
or 2x8 lumber and put it on the ground alongside one of your existing beds.
Tell her to kneel on it, but there's a rule: Her toes can't touch the ground
behind her. That's what it'll be like to kneel on a raised garden bed edge.
Her other option would be to kneel right IN the raised bed, which will
compress the soil, and her ankles or shins will be on the wooden edge.
I agree that raised beds can be visually pleasing, but think about
maintenance and pain first.
A proper raised bed garden should be high enough that one needn't
stoop (about 24" - 30" is ideal for most folks) and no wider that one
can comfortably reach to the center from each side (about 4' - 5')...
there is really no point to building a raised bed that doesn't meet
the aformentioned criteria, then it's just a waste of materials and
effort. If planning on building a raised bed less than two feet high
one will be better off not at all. If one is of a short stature for
harvesting crops it's far more advantageos to use a small step stool
than to have a raised bed so low thet one still needs to stoop. To
save on materials plan on "U" and "H" and "T" configurations. If
one's land slopes severely a terraced raised bed garden works well,
where one can stand on each level to reach the next higher level. If
one is serious about raised bed gardening they may want to consider
using concrete landscaping blocks rather than lumber.
for me it si the only way gardening made too easy.
you can see pic's and stroy on our site.
On Sat, 03 Nov 2007 20:44:03 -0500, Scott Hildenbrand
With peace and brightest of blessings,
len & bev
"Be Content With What You Have And
May You Find Serenity and Tranquillity In
A World That You May Not Understand."
Yup. Add some drip irrigation, too. My guess is that shin to knee level
will do her back most good, but I built my mom a raised bed that was about
dining-table height, so she could garden while seated. Very easy to
I'd forgo the plastic and use something like cedar if possible. If not,
2x lumber takes a number of years to rot in my experience.
And don't forget to kill the sod under the raised bed first. Lawn grasses
are downright stubborn about wanting to keep growing. Quackgrass is worse.
If you're not going very high, you can just heap up the raised soil
on the ground, no containment needed. Or if you just want to try
the concept, you can get bagged soil and grow through the bag.
Might want to send in for a soil analysis of the bought-in stuff...
commercial compost in my neck of the woods tends to be pretty acid, and
needs considerable sweetening with limestone. Also, clay in moderation
increases the buffer capacity of the soil and makes pH swings during the
growing season much, much easier. Straight compost is way too light
to use.... plants can pull themselves out of the ground, ime.
Cheapest way to buy good soil for raised beds is often from a local
soil and compost dealer that does custom mixes for greenhouses... buy
a truckload and you don't have to pay for the plastic bags.
Kay, with rocky heavy clay soils in Oregon.
As others have said, cedar is less of a health issue. However, I had
one bed made of very old treated poles, just because I had them and
they were free. Instead of plastic, I used 18" wide aluminum flashing
to separate the soil from the poles. It proved to be much more
Don't know your location, but I continually had a problem with fire
ants nesting in the raised bed garden. Since there is no approved fire
ant pesticide rated for garden areas, and they were so insistent on
getting in the bed, I finally had to get rid of my raised bed.
Here is what I did this fall in preperation to next springs planting
Using all 2" X12" X10ft treated lumber..(yes treated lumber) I will decide
what to do about this when I plant in the spring..I made 4 beds 4'X10' with
an additional bed across the back for wife's flowers..I used 3/8th inch X2"
angle iron and hammered in about 3 to four feet into the ground..( I had
lots of these around so cost wasnt an issue) and bolted the sides to these
angle irons to keep them secure.... Made walking spaces of 3ft between beds
and using ceder chips to keep weeds down and using the soil that was beneath
the beds, to fill the beds, I have been using this space as my veggie
garden for 30 years.. so the soil is great, I may need to add soil .I can
get good planting dirt from a local dist. I decided on this after many years
of successful container planting, and am looking forward to years of
success...watering..I may set up a sunken system. I am in western Pa ...hope
this helps you along
If you've already filled the beds with soil, it's a bit late to do anything
about protecting the soil and vegetables from the chemicals leeching into
them. What is it that you see as your options to 'decide what to do about
this', that you can actually choose from? I suppose you could will the
chemicals not to leech, tho I don't think that will work. You could
probably remove all of the soil, and line the beds, next spring. But, how
would you know if the chemicals had already begun leeching, or not, after
sitting all winter.
Seriously, you /must/ have some idea of what you plan on doing about it. I
guess you could just ignore the fact that the chemicals will end up in the
soil, and take your chances. It *is* your life, after all. BTW... got kids?
Please don't top-post. Thanks.
-A comfortable falsehood will always win out over an uncomfortable truth.
Pressure-treated lumber is wood that has been immersed in a liquid preservative
and placed in a pressure chamber. The chamber forces
the chemical into the wood fibers. The pressurized approach makes sure that the
chemical makes it to the core of each piece of wood
-- it is much more effective than simply soaking the wood in the chemical.
The most common chemical used to treat lumber used to be chromated copper
arsenate, or CCA. In 2003, however, the Environmental
Protection Agency restricted the use of CCA in residential settings due to
health and environmental concerns about arsenic leaching
out of the wood. The most widely used alternative to CCA is alkaline copper
quat, or ACQ. Copper is toxic to various insects and
fungi that might cause decay. ACQ binds to wood fibers very well and allows wood
to last decades even when it is in contact with the
The protection provided by the chemical depends on the amount of chemical that
the wood absorbs. In the United States, the amount of
chemical is measured in pounds of chemical per cubic foot of wood. For ground
contact, 0.40 pounds per cubic foot is needed. For
foundations, 0.60 pounds per cubic foot is the standard.
The chemicals in treated wood are generally not good for humans. This is why you
see warnings advising you to wear gloves, avoid
breathing the sawdust, and refrain from burning treated wood. Keeping small
children away from treated wood is also a good idea.
arsenate - :a salt or ester of an arsenic acid
arsenic - :a trivalent and pentavalent solid poisonous element
Just wanted to thank everyone for their input on this.. Since there is
some mixed feelings on raised beds I'm going to do a test next season
and make one long bed and then a few ground beds behind that and see
which works better.
Appreciate it greatly! :)
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