Author Topic: Garden Advice  (Read 2024 times)

WSUCoug1994

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Garden Advice
« on: June 29, 2017, 12:23:57 PM »
My wife would like me to build her a raised garden bed.  Seems most people make these out of cedar or cinder blocks.  We have to have fencing or netting above the beds as we have deer, rabbits and a variety of different animals running around our property. 

Anyone have advice or suggestions?  This is a new area for both of us.  We have obviously conducted a lot of research online but it would be nice to hear from people we trust.  Here is a quick picture of what she wants.  This will also be integrated into our drip lines for irrigation purposes.



Spork

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Re: Garden Advice
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2017, 02:40:50 PM »
I'll warn you that cedar, while it rots slower than untreated pine... does rot.  We did raised beds in 1x6 cedar.  It lasted about 5 years.  We eventually went back to gardening in the ground so that we could use a tiller to mix in organic matter.  Doing it on a large raised bed by hand was becoming a chore.

I'm not sure anything will keep rabbits out.   Our main problem is pocket gophers... and nothing seems to deter them either.
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Indio

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Re: Garden Advice
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2017, 03:04:56 PM »
That's a nice design for an enclosed raised bed. I would recommend not making it higher than 10" otherwise you are using a lot of organic matter and most plants, including tomatoes can grow in that amount of loam. If you have a lot of pests, I would bury hardware cloth, not chicken wire it degrades too quickly, down 8 inches and horizontal 6 inches. Another thing to keep in mind is too design a system that you can expand. Once you get that homegrown tomato may want to grow more varied differnet kinds of veg so having a design that you can enlarge later is helpful. Because you need to rotate crops and not grow them in the same spot year over year due to nutrient depletion, having a flexible space is also helpful.
Soaker hoses are key to keeping the upkeep low and mulching will keep the weeds down, while preventing evaporation from the hoses.

Good luck with the growing.

WSUCoug1994

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Re: Garden Advice
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2017, 03:16:47 PM »
I was wondering what the longevity of that cedar would be.  Thank you for the advice.  Would it be possible to put a "floor" under the garden in order to stop the gophers - we have them running around here as well.  Or will they simply go through the fencing? I hadn't considered them.  I was hoping for a really small diameter hole in the fencing to keep out the rabbits.

Great advice Indio.  Thank you.  Are there certain plants you would recommend as "starter" plants?  I am not sure my wife's thumb is as green as she likes to believe it is ;).
« Last Edit: June 29, 2017, 06:18:23 PM by WSUCoug1994 »

Cgbg

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Re: Garden Advice
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2017, 05:29:17 PM »
I don't have rabbits but I do have deer. Lots of deer. We used deer netting around a few garden beds but then we discovered that finches can get caught in it.

I do buried hugelkultur beds, which end up about as high as a normal raised bed. I use rock as an edging - because I have rock and lots of it. I tend to have to fight a bunch of slugs eary in the season either because of the rocks or the mulch or maybe both.

I find it easier to fence the garden area. We used cedar posts and cattle panels set into cedar frames with a trellis like top. The neighbors love the way it looks. If you are building wood boxes, use some hardware cloth for the bottoms (1/4" or 1/2" wire mesh.)

Tomatoes are easy to grow and are a good first plant. I grow tons of peppers, squash,beans cukes and tomatoes- all things deer love. I also throw in a dozen or so tithonia plants (Mexican sunflower) so the bees hang around. Easy to grow from seed, grows tall, blooms all summer and deer hate it.

WSUCoug1994

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Re: Garden Advice
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2017, 06:21:30 PM »
I don't have rabbits but I do have deer. Lots of deer. We used deer netting around a few garden beds but then we discovered that finches can get caught in it.

I do buried hugelkultur beds, which end up about as high as a normal raised bed. I use rock as an edging - because I have rock and lots of it. I tend to have to fight a bunch of slugs eary in the season either because of the rocks or the mulch or maybe both.

I find it easier to fence the garden area. We used cedar posts and cattle panels set into cedar frames with a trellis like top. The neighbors love the way it looks. If you are building wood boxes, use some hardware cloth for the bottoms (1/4" or 1/2" wire mesh.)

Tomatoes are easy to grow and are a good first plant. I grow tons of peppers, squash,beans cukes and tomatoes- all things deer love. I also throw in a dozen or so tithonia plants (Mexican sunflower) so the bees hang around. Easy to grow from seed, grows tall, blooms all summer and deer hate it.

This is super helpful.  Do you happen to have a picture of your fence/garden you could share?

Fishindude

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Re: Garden Advice
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2017, 06:58:12 PM »
I have four 4' x 16' raised beds built of 6x6 treated timbers.  Beds are approx 30" tall which is a real nice height, makes it very easy to care for things.  We put a 6' tall fence around the whole thing to keep deer out.

Cgbg

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Re: Garden Advice
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2017, 07:23:52 PM »
Here is a photo before the drop irrigation went in for the summer.

Spork

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Re: Garden Advice
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2017, 08:03:56 AM »
I was wondering what the longevity of that cedar would be.  Thank you for the advice.  Would it be possible to put a "floor" under the garden in order to stop the gophers - we have them running around here as well.  Or will they simply go through the fencing? I hadn't considered them.  I was hoping for a really small diameter hole in the fencing to keep out the rabbits.

We put in a floor of hardware cloth.  They just popped out at ground level, climbed up the raised bed and popped right back into the dirt.  It didn't do anything for us.  Rabbits did the same -- jumped up and into the bed.  Rabbits do a small amount of damage for us, but not a whole lot. 
Some will sell their dreams for small desires
Or lose the race to rats
Get caught in ticking traps
And start to dream of somewhere
To relax their restless flight

Indio

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Re: Garden Advice
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2017, 12:20:39 PM »
Be careful about using treated lumber has it is treated with toxins that will leach into the soil as it rains and degrades. Plants root systems and myccorhizal fungi will absorb it and it will get into your food.

Cgbg's use of stone and concrete footings is a good idea but the fencing behind and underneath needs to be thorough. There's nothing worse than finding something has snuck into garden and chowed down on your veg buffet. Plan to keep the hungry critters out now and you won't be disappointed later. Putting wood at the bottom of the beds instead of fencing will only rot in a few years. Another option would be to use landscape fabric, however my recommendation is still to go with the hardware cloth. If you think the soil is contaminated in some way, use the fabric. It's hard for animal, even those with sharp claws/teeth to get into.

In terms of starter plants, I always grow the food we eat the most of or is the most expensive in the supermarket. I used to grow asparagus but it took up a lot of space and after about 2 meals with it, I was done. OTOH, I can never get enough vine ripened tomatoes and it's easy to grow. I would also put peppers, green beans (both bush and pole), cukes, basil and most herbs, into the category of easy to grow because it doesn't attract many insect pests. If you're starting the garden now and are in northern hemisphere, you need veg that will grow quickly - eg cherry toms, lettuce, spinach, beets. If you are down south and have a hardiness zone of 8 or higher, you can get away with some of the larger veggies.

Summer and winter squash can attract vine borer so that requires constant vigil. Don't put herbs that will reseed or expand in your raised beds. Try pots for them, especially anything in the mint family.

Gardening has a high initial investment, but I've made back my money big time. My grocery budget is about $100 per month from June till October.

bognish

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Re: Garden Advice
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2017, 12:54:04 PM »
I am in dry UT, so this might apply everywhere, but I made raised bed garden boxes out of untreated 2x10s. They are still holding in dirt after 9 years. The boxes made from the wood reclaimed from old deck joists are looking weathered, but the ones I bought new wood for look fine.  The down side of raised beds is its hard to get a tiller into them. I turn them over by hand with a pitch fork in the spring & fall to mix in leaves and compost. This would be a pain with buried hardware cloth to get snagged in. Landscape fabric is total crap. The only use for this stuff is under a gravel foot path. Are the fence/cage parts in the boxes in the first picture removable? They look like they could be hard to work in. The horizontal bar in the middle would be a pain to reach over. The cage & frame would make it hard to use a shovel or pitch fork in. This would be fine for a small garden with a couple plants, but not really scalable.

Indio

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Re: Garden Advice
« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2017, 01:39:36 PM »
 I follow permaculture principles and never rototill my raised beds. It brings up too many weed seeds, disrupts the soil ecosystem and I hate time consuming weed removal. I use a winter cover crop to keep the soil from blowing away and hand rake it over to let it decompose into the soil about 4 weeks before planting. If you don't have good soil, gardening is a waste of time.

Spork

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Re: Garden Advice
« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2017, 04:13:01 PM »
I follow permaculture principles and never rototill my raised beds. It brings up too many weed seeds, disrupts the soil ecosystem and I hate time consuming weed removal. I use a winter cover crop to keep the soil from blowing away and hand rake it over to let it decompose into the soil about 4 weeks before planting. If you don't have good soil, gardening is a waste of time.

We tried this for several years.  Our issue: we have root knot nemetodes.  Everything we read says to fight this we need to keep continually tilling more organic matter into the soil.  Your last sentence rings sadly true.  We have shitty soil.
Some will sell their dreams for small desires
Or lose the race to rats
Get caught in ticking traps
And start to dream of somewhere
To relax their restless flight

Double Yu

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Re: Garden Advice
« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2017, 04:51:22 PM »
Raised beds are a method that came out of the much rainier, colder eastern US (Rodale folks really promulgated it). Depending on where you are in the Bay Area, you might be better served by NOT using raised beds for the simple reason that they dry out significantly faster than garden beds surrounded by ... soil. You basically have all the sides of a raised bed exposed to air and moisture either escapes through those sides or follows the gravitational pull down into the earth.

This doesn't help your design question at all, but if you're interested in conserving water, raised beds are not necessarily your friend. Their main purpose is to avoid waterlogged garden beds (after snowmelt and in areas with consistent and plentiful rain) and to increase the speed at which the soil warms in winter after being covered in snow and ice. None of these are problems in the Bay Area.

But, they're incredibly popular --  if not the wisest of options... I have them in my garden, inherited from the previous owner, and while I'm gradually deconstructing them, I'm trying to make them work in the drier-than-you northern Sac valley. My plants do suffer. They're also harder to dig.

Not to be all party-pooperish... sorry
« Last Edit: June 30, 2017, 09:38:16 PM by Double Yu »
Why, yes I AM all over the map!

big_owl

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Re: Garden Advice
« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2017, 09:27:03 AM »
I used old railroad ties to make my raised beds.  They are ridiculously cheap, should last longer than me, and are very sturdy.  I can jump around and walk on top of mine and I didn't even bolt them together....just stacked them in boxes.  I lined them with landscape fabric so the soil doesn't come in contact with the ties themselves.

Only downside is that they are very heavy and you'll dull your chainsaw cutting them.  I did feel pretty manly carrying 200+lb ties around the yard with no shirt on though. 

I live in the mid Atlantic where summers are hot and dry....and raised beds do dry out really fast in summer.  I use the "square foot garden" method and this year I installed a drip emitter irrigation system in all my beds.  One 0.25gph emitter per sqft section.  I put them on a daily timer that runs it for an hour each morning and I haven't had to water since.  Life changer...

letired

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Re: Garden Advice
« Reply #15 on: July 01, 2017, 09:32:25 AM »
I used old railroad ties to make my raised beds.  They are ridiculously cheap, should last longer than me, and are very sturdy.  I can jump around and walk on top of mine and I didn't even bolt them together....just stacked them in boxes.  I lined them with landscape fabric so the soil doesn't come in contact with the ties themselves.

Even with the landscape fabric, railroad ties seem like a very bad idea. Landscape fabric is not an impenetrable barrier for roots, much less on the microscopic level where chemical leaching occurs.

big_owl

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Re: Garden Advice
« Reply #16 on: July 01, 2017, 09:42:27 AM »
I used old railroad ties to make my raised beds.  They are ridiculously cheap, should last longer than me, and are very sturdy.  I can jump around and walk on top of mine and I didn't even bolt them together....just stacked them in boxes.  I lined them with landscape fabric so the soil doesn't come in contact with the ties themselves.

Even with the landscape fabric, railroad ties seem like a very bad idea. Landscape fabric is not an impenetrable barrier for roots, much less on the microscopic level where chemical leaching occurs.

I did plenty of research on creosote soil migration before I did my work. And my landscape fabric is of the waterproof type.  Also, the RR ties you get from lumber yard are typically very old and most of the leachable creosote has long since leached out. 

letired

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Re: Garden Advice
« Reply #17 on: July 01, 2017, 09:51:42 AM »
I used old railroad ties to make my raised beds.  They are ridiculously cheap, should last longer than me, and are very sturdy.  I can jump around and walk on top of mine and I didn't even bolt them together....just stacked them in boxes.  I lined them with landscape fabric so the soil doesn't come in contact with the ties themselves.

Even with the landscape fabric, railroad ties seem like a very bad idea. Landscape fabric is not an impenetrable barrier for roots, much less on the microscopic level where chemical leaching occurs.



I did plenty of research on creosote soil migration before I did my work. And my landscape fabric is of the waterproof type.  Also, the RR ties you get from lumber yard are typically very old and most of the leachable creosote has long since leached out.

I still think it is a very bad idea for edibles, but I'm glad you did your research and are comfortable with your choices.

big_owl

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Re: Garden Advice
« Reply #18 on: July 01, 2017, 10:06:32 AM »
I used old railroad ties to make my raised beds.  They are ridiculously cheap, should last longer than me, and are very sturdy.  I can jump around and walk on top of mine and I didn't even bolt them together....just stacked them in boxes.  I lined them with landscape fabric so the soil doesn't come in contact with the ties themselves.

Even with the landscape fabric, railroad ties seem like a very bad idea. Landscape fabric is not an impenetrable barrier for roots, much less on the microscopic level where chemical leaching occurs.



I did plenty of research on creosote soil migration before I did my work. And my landscape fabric is of the waterproof type.  Also, the RR ties you get from lumber yard are typically very old and most of the leachable creosote has long since leached out.

I still think it is a very bad idea for edibles, but I'm glad you did your research and are comfortable with your choices.

:)

totoro

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Re: Garden Advice
« Reply #19 on: July 01, 2017, 10:52:42 AM »
I've had raised and in ground garden beds.  I'd recommend in ground with wire fencing around the perimeter and a gate for the deer/rabbits.  In ground lasts forever and we mulch with straw so it is very low maintenance.   It is more economical and looks good when done nicely too.   A cat and dog also help with rabbit/deer issues although the raccoons come out at night where I am and broke down my dwarf cherry tree last night...

WSUCoug1994

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Re: Garden Advice
« Reply #20 on: July 07, 2017, 10:43:28 AM »
Thank you for the advice/suggestions.  This has been very helpful.  We have some decisions to make...

Norgirl

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Re: Garden Advice
« Reply #21 on: July 10, 2017, 05:43:52 PM »
We just reused old tile palettes like these

http://kesirtile.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/

That had been left over from our neighbours bathroom reno. They are heat treated (you can tell by the branding code) and we just lined them with thick garden plastic to keep the moisture in and make the wood rot more slowly.

We are in a warm climate but use them to grow blue berries which need a specific soil ph

Roger122

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Re: Garden Advice
« Reply #22 on: July 21, 2017, 01:20:05 AM »
Ahhh!!

Long discussion

Well, I always check out youtube and other online sources to keep my garden healthy and perfect.

Here is the general link I will provide http://www.finegardening.com/10-ways-keep-your-garden-healthy

Just check it out and enjoy your gardening. :)

WSUCoug1994

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Re: Garden Advice
« Reply #23 on: July 21, 2017, 04:45:39 PM »
Thanks!