All Things Gardening forum: Creating Raised Beds for Gardening

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Name: Jerri Kuchenmeister
Minnesota (Zone 4b)
Vegetable Grower
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jkuchenmeister2013
Mar 15, 2013 9:08 AM CST
I will be creating raised beds to plant my veggies this Spring. I have been doing some research over the web and now would like to get some wonderful thoughts and ideas from some real experienced / or (like me) unexperienced gardeners, What type of raised beds have you made? what different type of materials have you used? Which materials have proven to last year after year? I have a small section of my yard that isnt tree covered. My plan is to make three 8x4 beds and two 6x4 beds and maybe even a couple 4x4s for herbs and a small asparagus bed. If you have any thoughts, ideas or even pictures I'd love to hear from you. Thank you Smiling
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
Cottage Gardener Houseplants Spiders! Heucheras Frogs and Toads Dahlias
Hummingbirder Sedums Winter Sowing Peonies Region: Michigan Garden Ideas: Level 2
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jvdubb
Mar 15, 2013 9:36 AM CST
Jerri I am at work right now. When I get home and have access to my pics I'll post a few of my past raised beds with comments.
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
Cottage Gardener Houseplants Spiders! Heucheras Frogs and Toads Dahlias
Hummingbirder Sedums Winter Sowing Peonies Region: Michigan Garden Ideas: Level 2
Image
jvdubb
Mar 15, 2013 2:22 PM CST
Here is a bed someone built for me with landscaping timbers. This is from 2008. Back then big box hardware stores tended to sell the landscaping timbers VERY cheap to get people in the door. I don't remember what it cost me for this though. I have no idea what landscape timbers run now a days. I cannot attest to how long it lasted as sadly and happily I moved out in 2010.
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[Last edited by jvdubb - Mar 15, 2013 2:30 PM (+)]
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Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
Cottage Gardener Houseplants Spiders! Heucheras Frogs and Toads Dahlias
Hummingbirder Sedums Winter Sowing Peonies Region: Michigan Garden Ideas: Level 2
Image
jvdubb
Mar 15, 2013 2:28 PM CST
Here is that bed in July 2010. We put bricks around the base to make mowing a tad easier. I built this bed in this spot because it was a low spot in the yard that got very soppy. Thumb of 2013-03-15/jvdubb/7a9eb7
[Last edited by jvdubb - Mar 15, 2013 2:30 PM (+)]
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Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
Cottage Gardener Houseplants Spiders! Heucheras Frogs and Toads Dahlias
Hummingbirder Sedums Winter Sowing Peonies Region: Michigan Garden Ideas: Level 2
Image
jvdubb
Mar 15, 2013 2:39 PM CST
Here is a raised bed that existed when I moved into that house. I do not know how long it had been in existance when I moved in. I liked it because I could work in it without bending over. It was broken up into two sections. I took the lattice off because I don't like lattice
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This second section did have some bowing you might be able to see. I did not construct it so I don't know what could have been done to prevent this
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
Cottage Gardener Houseplants Spiders! Heucheras Frogs and Toads Dahlias
Hummingbirder Sedums Winter Sowing Peonies Region: Michigan Garden Ideas: Level 2
Image
jvdubb
Mar 15, 2013 2:49 PM CST
Here is a slightly raised bed I used at my next house. Common garden wall blocks. They were VERY common in that neighborhood. They really hold up well IF properly based and constructed and they don't break down like wood eventually does. I have seen these blocks used to make beds as high as 4 feet.
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Name: Jerri Kuchenmeister
Minnesota (Zone 4b)
Vegetable Grower
Image
jkuchenmeister2013
Mar 15, 2013 3:33 PM CST
Oooooo I like that garden wall block idea. I think I might even have the perfect spot for something like this. We just purchased our first home this fall and its basically a blank landscaping canvas for us.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Mar 15, 2013 4:57 PM CST
Hi Jerri!

I'm trying to find a way to make links to the photos in our TreeMail Thread, showing concrete paving stones stood upright and leaned against the raised bed soil.

Here are some photos that dwell mostly on establishing drainage if the beds sit on top of really dense clay:

ATP -
http://garden.org/thread/view_post/170442/
(That has my own photos - it is post #17 this thread:
The thread "How to place photos side by side" in Site Talk forum...)

my raised bed photos in DG:
http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1139478/


These links should mostly be about RBs:

http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/factsheets/vegetables/raise...
http://counties.cce.cornell.edu/chemung/agriculture/publicat...
http://cwmi.css.cornell.edu/Soil_Contaminants.pdf
http://smallfarms.cornell.edu/2011/07/04/raised-bed-gardenin...
http://impact.cals.cornell.edu/project/permanent-raised-beds...
http://www.tropag-fieldtrip.cornell.edu/Thurston_TA/Chapter1...


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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Mar 15, 2013 7:25 PM CST
Let's see if the new feature that Dave just gave us lets me copy photo links ("lightbox") from a TreeMail to a forum post:

(Go to you TreeMail, hit "Quote", then you can copy-paste lightboxes!)


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[Last edited by RickCorey - Mar 15, 2013 7:28 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #374386 (9)
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Mar 17, 2013 11:20 PM CST
Jerri, I think you mentioned in TreeMail that you had access to fresh horse manure, and I advised composting it (at least a little) before adding it to a raised bed.

Well, apparently, back in 1905 they weren't so fastidious with field crops or "coarse feeders" like corn. This author advised hauling and spreading fresh manure daily, if it wasn't too much work.

BUT


The Project Gutenberg eBook of The First Book Of Farming,
© 1905 by Charles L. Goodrich (Farmer and USDA expert)
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/16900

Charles Goodrich pointed out that nitrates and humus were lost from manure during composting, storage or aging (by leaching and microbial action). Therefore he adivsed applying manure fresh if practicable.

“The manure may be hauled directly to the field each day and spread on the surface or plowed in. This method is the best when practicable because fermentation of the manure will take place slowly in the soil and the gases produced will be absorbed and retained by the soil.”

BUT he said:

““If it is desired to apply manure directly to delicate rooted truck and vegetable crops it is best to let it stand for some time until the first rank fermentation has taken place and the manure has become rotten.”

“For the vegetable garden and flower garden and lawns, it is best to apply only manure that has been piled for some time and has been turned over several times so that it is well rotted and broken up. “

So he did advocate some composting before applying to “truck gardens” and vegetables. Presumably he would have advised the same for raised beds, but YMMV.

Fast-forwarding from 1905 to 2013 (sorry for any whiplash), we have a "Food Safety and Modernization Act" coming. It will impose complex tests and rigid procedures for applying animal manures to fields ... controlled composting and voluminous paperwork is about to become the law of the land for farms selling more than (something like) $100,000 per year. But if you only make 5% profit, can you live on $5,000 per year, especially after you take on the new testing and paperwork?

Geeze, I wish they had just mandated Porta-Potties and hand wipes in fields big enough be worked by hired hands.


To reduce the loss of nutrients from manure, he (Charles, Mr. USDA 1905) advised mixing “hot” manures like horses' with “cold” manures like cows', and having lots of litter and bedding in both. (Now we call that mixing “browns with greens”.)

“The presence of considerable amounts of soluble nitrogen hastens the rapidity of the fermentation.”

“... a number of compounds of nitrogen, potash, etc., are formed which are soluble in water. It is these that form the dark brown liquid that sometimes oozes out from the base of the manure heap. “

“A good practice is to apply the manure in its fresh condition to coarse feeding crops like corn, and then follow the corn by a more delicate rooted crop which requires the manure to be in a more decomposed condition than is necessary for the corn. In this case the corn is satisfied and the remaining manure is in proper condition for the following crop when it is planted.”

“Another practice is to broadcast the coarse manure on grass land and then when the hay is harvested the sod and remaining manure are plowed under for the following crop.”

Name: Jerri Kuchenmeister
Minnesota (Zone 4b)
Vegetable Grower
Image
jkuchenmeister2013
Mar 18, 2013 10:10 AM CST
Wonderful info, thank you Rick.... Ive been working on my compost but nothing like a cold snowy weekend to put a damper on that idea. Ugg. Though I did notice from the tiny warm up we had last week Ive got some bulbs coming up that Im interested in learning what they becomes of them. (reminder: just purchased home in Oct 2012 so all is new at this spring on what pops up). Patiences patiences... must learn patiences
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Mar 18, 2013 10:23 AM CST
>> just purchased home in Oct 2012

That is exciting! When I moved in to my current place, I had a bunch of bulbs come up in a little 3'x3' space. But they petered out rapidly and stopped coming back (I think because that space was such dead, hard clay). So I surrounded it with pavers and filled it with well-draining, com post-rich soil and planted more bulbs. They did very well the first year, now we;ll see how many come back.

(That space is the last photo above. I called it my "Magic Square Yard" from the fact that bulbs emerged from what looked like hard, dry clay.)

But I already noticed that the depth of the soil has dropped by half. I think that's mostly because the compost was consumed rapidly. Maybe compaction , but there was a lot of grit and bark in it.
Name: Jerri Kuchenmeister
Minnesota (Zone 4b)
Vegetable Grower
Image
jkuchenmeister2013
Mar 18, 2013 10:33 AM CST
Im thinking they may be hostas but ones Ive had before come up green, this has more of a burgandy (red/brown) leaf. But its only like maybe an inch poking out of the ground so far.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Mar 25, 2013 2:52 PM CST
Thank you very much, Harry G!

I started with clay and rocks, and I'm thrilled every year when things come up. Many are weeds, but even they weeds thrive much better in my improved beds than they did on the dead clay!

The clay pavers are (1) cheap and (2) easy.

I really like digging, and I seem to have an obsession with drainage.
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Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
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woofie
Mar 27, 2013 4:09 PM CST
Heh, we got a bit off-topic, so my last post got yanked off to the Sandbox, but Jerri, you might be interested in this. It's just a single post from a comment thread on this article:
http://garden.org/ideas/view/plantladylin/381/Cinder-Block-R...

This is my original post, that shows the individual comment:
Getting back to raised beds, now, where is that nice article that showed the lovely raised bed that Becky made? Ah, it was a comment in an article, here: http://garden.org/thread/view_post/357546/

Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Jewell
South Puget Sound (Zone 7a)
Ferns Region: Pacific Northwest Cottage Gardener Hellebores Dragonflies Ponds
Permaculture
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Jewell
Apr 4, 2013 8:20 PM CST
I love the idea of using cinder blocks. I've been using reclaimed bricks and rocks for years to terrace our gently sloping lot. This spring I did a week-end project terracing a corner of a woodland garden. It was surprisingly easy. The photos are of old path liners and a terraced area close to the house. Funky but it has been added onto over 30 years. Yes, moss is encouraged.Thumb of 2013-04-05/Jewell/091e38
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Apr 4, 2013 8:31 PM CST
Beautiful! The moss adds character.

M y first thought was: "That looks PNW-ish!" Then I looked at your location.

The ATP Member Map is cute. It shows your location IN Puget Sound!

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Name: Jay
Nederland, Texas (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Region: Gulf Coast Charter ATP Member I helped beta test the first seed swap I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Tip Photographer Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Hibiscus
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Horntoad
Apr 4, 2013 9:24 PM CST
RickCorey said:

The ATP Member Map is cute. It shows your location IN Puget Sound!




Houseboat or Submarine? Rolling on the floor laughing
wildflowersoftexas.com
texasnatureonline.com


Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
Image
woofie
Apr 4, 2013 9:51 PM CST
Definitely water gardens! Hilarious!
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Jewell
South Puget Sound (Zone 7a)
Ferns Region: Pacific Northwest Cottage Gardener Hellebores Dragonflies Ponds
Permaculture
Image
Jewell
Apr 5, 2013 7:26 AM CST
Floating barge...I wish Rolling on the floor laughing

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