Raised garden beds for beginner

pinkgator(9)August 7, 2012

My 3 year old daughter and I are trying to plan out our fall garden, and I was thinking it would be best to do raised beds.

Would someone be willing to help me plan this, please!?!

The area I have to use is 28 x 15 ft... I was thinking 4 beds in size of 10 x 5 ft... With 1.5 ft on each side, and 2 ft in-between.

How deep should these be? When I look at pictures on the Internet, some seem to be around 2 ft deep... But some things I have seen say to build them 1 ft high, with 10 in deep of soil.

If I do the 5 x 10 beds, my math says I would need 50 cubic feet of soil each... One thing said 60% top soil, 30% compost, 10% mix... If we waanted to do organic beds, is this right? Would I use mushroom compost?

Also, we wanted to do the corrugated steel boxes... I know the sheets are 24in x 144in, does anyone know if lowes/home depot can cut those into 5 ft x 12 in pieces? Then I assume I would use weather treated wood for my corners and tops.

Someone please help us! I am trying to show my husband I can plan and execute ;-)

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corar4gw(JAX9A)

The only tip I can offer is to remember that a 3 year-old has a very short attention span. Sounds like you will have more than enough garden for both of you. cora

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 11:54AM
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pinkgator(9)

Ha! Only help I am expecting for her is to help me dump some soil from the ends of the bags, a little pretend raking, maybe pushing in some seeds when we plant, and watering from her watering can... She loop loves to pick fruits/veggies once they are ready... And thankfully we had a cherry tomato plant that produced enough for her to pick a few handfuls every few days.

So, I really don't expect too much from her... It just gives us a fun project to work on and care for... She loves being in our garden now, but sadly it just totally bombed because I did not plan correctly... Thankfully she has zero expectations, poor little girl has never seen a "successful" garden ;-)

BUT THAT'S WHY WE ARE TRYING TRYING TRYING! I like to show her trying and hard work can yield results!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 12:00PM
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whgille(FL 9b)

Hi Pinkgator

I would recommend that you start with few beds in the beginning so it can be easy to do.

I have a few beds that I added over time. I started with 4 that are easy to reach from either side, they are 8x4 ft and about 8-12 in deep, the depth is up to you, you can go higher if you want to.

After doing lasagna beds in different ways, I found it easier and less trouble afterward taking first all the grass and then using different materials for filling in the bed. If you use cardboard and plant veggies right away, you will have to pull some grass in the future.:)

The community gardens by my area did about the same thing and filled the beds with a local free mulch that was pretty good.

It will be a good idea for you to sit down with hubby and plan indoors before any work in the heat. Your daughter since she is only 3 can help long after the beds are done and just maybe planting some big seeds and after that maybe harvesting some lettuce or carrots...

Here is a picture of some of the beds that I have

Silvia

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 1:24PM
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nessz79_10a

I agree to start with just a couple. I personally started with 1 last spring and just added another. I'll add a 3rd before next spring. If you start small, it gives you plenty of time to learn and mess up without spending too much money. I work full-time outside the home, have 2 kids, and am pursuing my Master's so that was a major reason why I started small. Gardening is so relaxing, though, so I'm keeping with it.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 1:58PM
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pinkgator(9)

So we'll definitely start off with 2 5 x 10 ft beds...

So do you think it is fine to do beds that will have veggies to be just 10 in deep of soil?

What about using the corrugated steel roofing as sides? Would I need wood behind it, or do you think the steel is strong enough to hold all the dirt?

The link has a photo of what I am wanting to kind of go for... But do they need to be so deep?

Thanks for any advice.

Here is a link that might be useful: Corrugated raised boxes

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 3:50PM
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saldut

The width of 5 feet seems to be too wide for reaching in from the walkway, Silvia is right to suggest 4 feet wide, if you do a practice 'reach' now before you hammer that all together it might be a good idea..also, keep your walkway wide enough to pull a wagon or whatever you will work from, 2 feet seems a bit narrow......also, lumber comes in 8 feet long, so if you use P/T from HD for the frame you won't have to cut any, which is wasteful...just cut the 8 footer in half.... I had beds like that years ago and they are very inexpensive and last a long time, they were all 4'X8' and worked quite well, some were deeper by using two 6" boards of P/T....sally

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 4:00PM
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pinkgator(9)

So is 8-12in soil deep enough to grow things like cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli, etc? Sorry if thats a dumb question, i am totally just a beginner...

And what do you suggest for the ratio for top soil, compost, etc? With it being an organic garden... I have the jobe's tomato food and veggie food I could mix in there...

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 4:19PM
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nessz79_10a

Again, I'm a beginner, so take this with a grain of salt, but I was able to grow watermelons and summer squash with about 8" soil depth with no problem. I'm growing a Everglades currant tomato plant right now in that soil as well (thanks, Tom) and it's thriving.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 4:33PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

...I'm growing a Everglades currant tomato plant right now in that soil as well (thanks, Tom) and it's thriving.

;-)

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 6:47PM
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L_in_FL(8B/9A Border, NW FL)

8"-12" deep is plenty for most crops. If you wanted to grow the extra long carrots, anything else with a long tap root, you'd need more depth. (Note: You can still grow the half-long 6" carrots just fine.)

I agree with the others that 4' is a good maximum width. I have short arms, and it is just not comfortable for me to work in the center of a 4' wide bed. I actually made my beds only 3' wide. 3 1/2' would have been okay, but DH wanted to keep it simple for him in construction, heh.

I almost went with a 2' wide aisle between beds, but opted at the last second for 3' and I am glad I did. Big plants (tomatoes, etc.) don't stay neatly contained exactly within the borders of the bed - they'll stick out the sides and you'll be glad of the room to get around them without breaking branches. Also, it's nice to be able to get a cart or wheelbarrow through when you have big jobs like adding compost or mulch to the beds.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 6:52PM
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saldut

Another thought, you don't want to be walking in that bed, it packs the dirt down...that's why the 4' width is practical you can reach in from the walkway...even the 3 1/2 is better but then you are cutting that end-board and wasting the cut...and the 3' wide path-walkway is good, L in Fla. has it right-on it gives you more room to maneuver and allow for wider plants hanging over the sides....sally

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 5:46PM
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wilsonm24(9)

I have heard of the chemicals from P/T wood seeping into the soil so I tried to avoid it when I built my raised bed. I went with natural cedar which is water resistant (prevents rotting) and don't have concerns about chemicals (plus I think it looks better), the only problem is that it is a little more expensive but I know it will last.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 3:19PM
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saldut

When DH built my beds we used the cheapest PT from HD, and lined it w/plastic, we slit holes in the bottom for drainage and lapped the plastic over the sides and fastened it w/slats so it wouldn't come loose... could also be lined w/cardboard...we set them up abt. 2 feet off the ground so I didn't have to bend too much, not the prettiest, but that wasn't what we were aiming for... and once all that stuff was growing you never noticed the 'tacky' gro-boxes anyway!! sally

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 5:15PM
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