Beginner Trying to Learn- Raised Beds? Organic?

LindseyKFebruary 19, 2014

I am wanting to plant a small garden in a raised bed in my back yard and am looking for where to start. I want the garden to have a few flowers, a few veggies, but mainly herbs and most of all I want it to be organic. I am on a budget and my space is limited to an 8' x 4' x 8" raised bed that I plan on building. Here are some of the questions I have:
1. I need good ideas on a good watering system (soaker hose, drip hose, timer, setup, etc.) that would be conducive to south Louisiana and my bad memory which forgets to water things. Also, how should this be laid out in my bed?

2. Should my raised bed have a divider between the veggies, herbs, and flowers?

3. What should I put in my bed to get it started in the right direction? Soil? Mulch? Compost? Fertilizer? (Keep in mind organic)

4. I have mostly seeds to start the garden off. Can I start them in the bed itself to make things easier? If so, do I need to make a system similar to a green house to keep everything moist and warm until it germinates?

5. How should I place my seeds/plants? I have no idea what should go where and next to what.

6. Should I use weed barrier fabric or chicken wire in the bottom of my bed or both? What are the pros and cons of these?

Thank you for all your help!

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Natures_Nature(5 OH)

First, gardening is as easy or hard as you make it. It could be as simple as filling a pot with soil and watering occasionally, or it could be as difficult as trying to double dig your garden by hand. Start small, talk with local growers/farmers, and nurseries to get help on your specific location. If I was you, I would make one bed, fill it with good compost, mulch with a couple inches of leaves, and your ready to plant!

Now to your Questions:

1. There is plenty of info you can search up on your own time. You can google search, or even here at gardenweb they have several threads on drip irrigation.

2.normally most herbs are perrenial, they come back every year, usually bigger and stronger. They will choke out your annual vegetables, which life cycle only last one year. Also, herbs have different care and maintance than veggies, same goes with flowers... This is why most people make seperate beds for their vege, flowers, and herbs. I would have seperate beds, or you just need to keep them seperated enough so your garden is not crowded. The key is space, most begginers space thing to close, i. Order to optimize yield. When really, you justend up in a tangled mess.. Do things right the first time, lesson to directions, space plants adequately.

3. Compost or any good topsoil/gardensoil. Keep in mind you dont have to actually build raised beds to contain to soil, you could just mound soil and plant, saves tons of money and time! However, the soil can get washed away if a heavy rain, etc.. If you got the tome and money, you cant go wrong making a raised bed, 6" should be sufficient, tho I would probably go a foot..

4. Different plants need to be started differently. The seed packets should give you directions. In general, some plants need to be started inside before the garden season, other plants can be seeded in the garden. You will hVe to start things like most flowers,herbs, veggies like tomato,eggplant, and pepper inside a couple months before your last frost date. Things like corn, beets, carrots, and leafy greens seeds can be just dropped in the garden. Again, your going to have to further your research, maybe your neighbors a gardener, he could tell you all his secrets in a day or two, talk to locals.

5. Well, now you know flowers, herbs, and vegetable should be seperated, so that takes a lot of guesswork out. Normally, you would plant the smallest, shortest plants(leafy greens,root crops) closest to the south, and the tallest plants(tomato,corn) closest to the north. This way none of your plants gets shaded from others. The brightest sun is from the south..

6. If you are going to be having a raised bed, or just a big pile of soil mounded, that right their in itself would kill existing vegetation. However, if you don't add enough soil on top of your existing grass or whatever, the grass, etc will just grow right through.. That is the worst case scenerio, it's a nightmare. You would then either have to till/dig the bed thoroughly to kill the grass, or you could shovel the soil out of the raised bed, get rid of the grass, put down a layer of cardboard/newspaper, then put the soil on top of the cardboard. The cardboard assures that no existing vegetation will grow through. Landscape fabric does the same thing as cardboard, but it does not allow the plant roots to penetrate it, so you are cutting your roots off the earth, no good! I would not use landscape fabric, pain in the but!!! The reason some use chicken fence under the raised bed is to keep animals from digging under it. If you dont have to worry about your existing grass/lawn/vegetation growing up under your raised beds, or animals digging under your beds, you dont need chicken fencing or landscape fabric under your beds. You could still use landscape fabric ontop as a mulch top keep down weeds, but the fabric dows impede water, it also is inert, it doesnt decompose and nourish soil like nature intended, leaves or other plant mulch will benefit your soil greatly. That's why i would use plant material as mulch instead of the fabric, it does the same thing, better, plus has morw advantages.

Perhaps the hardest part of your gardening experience is to read through all my typos? Good luck

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 10:52AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Question1 - for a bed that small you shouldn't need any complicated system (or all that expense either). Most plants aren't real tolerant of a scheduled water regimen. You water when they need it. Some weeks that may be 2x and other weeks none at all. And for most auto timers to work anyway you have to leave the water turned on all the time and that is just asking for a mess.

But if you want to go to that expense then I recommend drip tape, 2 runs 2' apart.

Question 2 - no reason to..

Question 3 - all of the things you list (they are all organic). Lots of discussions here and on the Soil & Compost forum too on what to fill raised beds with.

Question 4 - like Nature's Nature said, different plants are started differently. Some are direct seeded, some are done with transplants. Direct seeding things like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and such doesn't work at all well. So what are you going to grow?

Question 5 - sorry can't help with that without knowing specifically what you are growing.

Question 6 - the cardboard is all you need unless you have voles.

As mentioned, lots of good reading here on all the basics and be sure to check out the FAQs too.


Here is a link that might be useful: Garden Web FAQs

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 8:59PM
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3. Start with the soil, which is the basic component of any garden. A really good soil is loam, but that is not readily available everywhere, so the next best soil is a mixture of the mineral component (sand, silt, clay) and organic matter (compost, leaf mold, or other vegetative waste) in a proportion of about 90 percent mineral and maybe about 10 percent organic matter. The terms "topsoil" or
"garden soil" are meaningless since they vary widely over this large country.
1. Soaker hoses are used where general garden watering works while drip irrigation puts the water right at the plant. Either one works but drip irrigation is mostly used for permanent plantings while soaker hoses are used in annual beds.
2. There is no good reason to separate, divide, your flowers, vegetables, and herbs. Interplanting, intercropping, is and has been quite common for generations. The flowers and herbs can help protect the vegetables from attack by insect pests and vice versa. Just be aware that some plants do seem to have detrimental affects on others.
4. You can start those seeds in your house to get an early start on growing them or wait and seed them in the garden at the appropriate time. Some seeds, tomatoes, peppers, egg plant, seem to do better as transplants started inside.
5. Look at the idea of interplanting.
6. with an 8 inch depth of soil there is no real reason to put a weed barrier down. That 8 inches of soil will prevent moat all unwanted plant growth except the most aggressive and a weed barrier will not stop them anyway. If you have thingys that burrow, voles, moles, etc. a barrier of 1/2 or 1/4 inch mesh might be warranted. Chicken wire has a mesh that will allow them to burrow into your raised bed.

Here is a link that might be useful: interplanting

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 6:39AM
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LindseyK, look into square foot gardening. It's how I started and I never looked back. Now I harvest fresh organic fruit and veg each and every day of the year. Here's some Napa cabbage I brought in last week:

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 10:09AM
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