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Dan Eskelson

Hi JeanAnn,

Good words about raised beds...I also build raised beds without sides, and after a few years of working the soil, it is not necessary to till - though just cultivating the soil will bring weed seeds to germination depth.

Here are a couple of photos of my process:
http://clearwaterlandscapes.com/wordpress/2005/04/28/building_raised_garden_beds/

TC

Using a rototiller on a regular basis can be detrimental to soil health. Once at the beginning of the season is okay, but if you're rototilling every week, you're doing more harm than good. Just Google "no-till" for more information.

If you clicked on Dan's link, you can see how we create our raised beds. Yes, you have to use a little elbow grease, but if you want to have traditional rows for veggies, it's the way to go.

There's nothing wrong with creating raised beds for a veggie or flower garden like those pictured in the Oregon State Extension photo either.

Whether you plant in raised beds or on flat ground, the most important thing you can do is ensure that you have healthy soil to begin with. Have your soil tested if there's any doubts. If you're creating a new garden, by all means have your soil tested before planting anything.

dieselboi

Can I add another Raised Bed question? What about a raised bed on a solid surface. We're thinking of building them on our concrete driveway. They would be about 2' tall/deep. Would that work?

Mike Taylor

I grow in raised beds, and have about an acre of them so far. None have sides, more of a bank-and-ditch arrangement. The advantages of simple raised beds is deeper soil and having the beds closer so you don't have to bend over so much. Mulch layers on the top and sides prevent the sides from collapsing too quickly.

The one thing I have to disagree with is the statement regarding "in which drip irrigation is aimed directly at the base of the plant". This can cause over-watering around the root base and too dry conditions in the actual root zone. This leads to disease promoting excess moisture, root rots, fusarium wilt, etc.

A better approach is to use drip tapes. These are cheap plastic tubes with emitters every 8" or 12" apart. I run two of these parallel along the bed, 9" to a foot from each other, and the whole thing is mulched heavily. The mulch allows the water to disperse evenly and the roots are never flooded. My disease issues have dropped to almost zero after adopting this method.

By putting in the double tapes and mulching, I am able to save over 75% of the water I used to apply, and I have better soil moisture and healthier garden plants.

Drip tapes are available in two different types, flat tapes and tubing similar to standard drip line feeder hoses. The tubing is about 3 1/2 cents per foot, while the heavier, more durable tubing is about 4 times that. In either case, fittings are about $1 apiece.

Farmer Jen

For the past 10 years I have used raised beds (with wooden sides) for planting. I never rototill. I use a manual digging fork to loosen and/or turn the soil. Hand cultivators and weeders work well in raised beds, as the raised bed soil tends to be loamy and easy to weed. Inexpensive plastic drip system tubing with sprayers or emitters works very very well for watering. Conserves water and keeps the water spray off of the foliage. This helps keep the plants healthy. I don't worry about mulching as I use my own homegrown compost to prepare the soil before planting, and then add more as needed. I space my seedlings close together using the "French intensive" method of gardening. This keeps the weeds down and gives a lot of production from a small garden space. Raised beds are definitely the way to go! Great post!

Metroknow

We built raised beds this year with tremendous results. We had more produce than we could eat, and thus canned much of it, which we're eating now. Our celery in particular was a surprise because it did incredibly well in the raised bed, as did our root vegetables. We also had a lower raised bed that was the "children's garden" in the center of our garden, where we grew strawberries and sunflowers. It worked out marvelously. It was a fair bit of work to build the beds, but well worth the effort.

Thank you for your posts - they are always so inspiring!

Jean Ann

Dieselboi, building raised beds on your driveway could work...you would need to think about a couple of things. One, how hot does it get in your area? The reflective heat of the cement will raise the temp of those beds significantly. This year, I grew all of my peppers in containers on my patio for that very reason. We had a very wet and cold spring, so the little guys needed a boost of heat...and peppers can withstand quite a bit of it.

Second, you will need to use some sort of liner to keep the soil from eroding out of the bottom...but it must still be able to drain. A good quality landscape fabric, one that won't disintegrate would work.

Finally, the depth of the bed should be determined by two things: the amount of heat and the type of crop. 24 inches is deep enough for most crops...but keep in mind that shallow soil on a hot surface spells disaster!

Would love to see pics of your project when you add the beds!

Jason

I installed a drip irrigation system last year that I bought from Dripworks - http://www.dripworksusa.com and I saw great results. The customer service rep said they had both drip tape and emitter tubing but they are better used for crops that are evenly spaced. My plants are kind of all over the place so I just had the 1/2" tubing with individual emitters placed at the base of each plant. Dripworks has a some good information on drip irrigation on their site as well as a free system design service.

Gardening Seeds

wow.. i really like the info at this post thanks!

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