Ask a Question forum: Planting in Raised Beds

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Madison, MS (Zone 8a)
elsanders98
Jan 6, 2017 9:41 PM CST
If you plant seeds or seedlings into a raised bed (elevated) vs. directly into the ground, will that change the date that you need to plant? I.e., will the soil temperature generally be warmer or cooler due to the elevated bed?

Thanks
Ernest
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Jan 7, 2017 7:19 AM CST
it depends on average outside temps. Depth and size of bed.
Put thermometer in soil ๐Ÿ˜
Cover your bed up with some clear plastic to help soil warm up faster ?
Then you could get a head start on everybody else. When warm plant seeds or seedlings in holes in plastic. Remove plastic when weather gets sufficiently warm.
Or ! You'll have cooked plants !!!
?๐Ÿ˜•? Or you could rig up a plastic greenhouse.
๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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dyzzypyxxy
Jan 7, 2017 8:29 AM CST
A raised bed will warm up faster in spring, it's true, especially if the sides are a dark color that absorbs the sun's heat. But it also will cool off faster because the sides are exposed to the cold air at night. Not much gain overall.

If you want to get a jump on the season, you can put hoops over your raised bed and cover it with frost cloth. This will protect your young plants from late frosts and also keep the soil in the raised bed from cooling off in cold weather. The cloth traps the heat rising from the soil at night, keeping it up to 20deg. warmer inside the "hoop house" than out.

Using frost cloth instead of plastic will prevent the "cooking" effect because the frost cloth breathes. You can leave it on for weeks, and then remove it when you're sure the nights aren't going to be too cold. (say, staying above 45deg. or so?) Greenhouses are a lot of work because you really do have to watch the temperatures inside very carefully. Even on a cold winter day, if the sun is intense they can really heat up.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." โ€“Winston Churchill
Madison, MS (Zone 8a)
elsanders98
Jan 12, 2017 8:44 AM CST
Thanks for the info! I'm planning my first foray into home gardening this spring. I've purchased a raised (elevated) bed that is 2' x 4' and plan to try some square foot gardening.

Any suggestions on what type of dirt to fill with? I was thinking of purchasing but did not know whether to just use garden soil or potting soil mix or a combination of these or whether to mix in compost or not. Any help would be appreciated.
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Jan 12, 2017 11:31 AM CST
By "elevated" do you mean that it is up on a stand, or on legs? i.e. up in the air with air underneath?

If that's the case, it will certainly be harder to start things early in that bed, because it will be subject to a lot more cooling than a regular raised bed that is in contact with the ground.

You should definitely use potting soil in your bed, not garden soil. Garden soil will compact too much, and also be much too heavy especially after you start watering it. Potting soil is light and very porous but absorbs water and nutrients like a sponge and releases it slowly to your plants. Every year you will have to amend or refresh the potting soil, as the organic elements break down and are used up by the plants, and about every 3 or 4 years you will have to entirely replace it.

You can amend with good compost, but make sure that what you buy is not mostly sand. Cheap, bagged "compost" from the big box stores are a high percentage of sand and will make your soil in your box pack down too much. I use alfalfa pellets to amend the potting soil in my Earth Boxes here, and they are very clean and do a great job of adding fresh organic elements to the soil. You can buy them in a 50lb. bag at any feed store as horse food. Be sure to get 100% alfalfa.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." โ€“Winston Churchill
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Jan 12, 2017 2:01 PM CST
Square Foot gardening requires a special type of planting medium which is more like potting soil than regular garden soil If you want to succeed with the SF method you can read about it in any number of places on the internet or buy a book or two. Some places sell what they call 'Mel's Mix' but you can usually mix up a batch for less money once you know what the ingredients are - usually vermiculite, peat moss (or coconut coir) and compost from various sources.

If you are doing true Square Foot gardening there is an official forum. I don't like to send people away from National Gardening Association but you could pop in over at the Square Foot place just to ask questions from time to time. Here is the link.
http://squarefoot.creatingforu...
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
Madison, MS (Zone 8a)
elsanders98
Jan 15, 2017 9:54 PM CST
Thanks for the info dyzzypyxxy and greene.

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