24in dp bed, how much mix to use?

JeannieR(z5MI)May 17, 2009

Hi all,

We thought about putting 12" of sand in bottom, and 12" of MelÂs mix on the top.

Has anybody done anything similar? Any advise?

Should I just fill the whole box with Mel's mix?

I know 6" is supposed to be enough, but, I want 12' at least.

I have read every single SFG post on the forum. And I have MelÂs orginal book.

My husband actually cut the cedar trees and sawed the 2"x12ft boards & 4x4s.

We are building it 3'x12'x2'H,east-west, trellis on 12' N side, 1 ft in. (inspired by engineer garden guys trellis) By the patio and rain barrels.

I wanted to have the height and width to try to help save my back and knees some extra pain.

I have extensive perennial flower gardens, and a very physical, totaly non ergonomic, heavy lifting in awkward positions,distroy your joints job. I cannot kneel at all anymore, and have to go down stairs sideways. I won't go into the rest of my other problems and arthritus etc.

I really wanted to grow some vegetables, but not down in the ground as we have very heavy clay and bindweed and quack grass.

Ok, I tried to give a quick explanation. :-)

Thanks, Jeannie

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eaglesgarden(6b - se PA)


Filling that one box will take 72 cubic feet of material! Personally, I would got the most economical route, but that's just me and my financial situation talking there! ;-)

I haven't done sand on the bottom of the box, but it should allow for plenty of drainage, for sure. I don't think that there is a need at all to fill it up completely with Mel's Mix. That just wouldn't be financially sound, given that 12 inches is more than double the recommended depth. (I actually don't go by the 6 inches strictly, I have my boxes open on the bottom, and have my native soil that I had been amending for 5 years under it.)

I understand why you want it up so high, but at the same time, the added Mel's mix is not going to give you much return on your investment. There really isn't much need for 24 inches of depth. I would go with no more than 12 inches of Mel's mix, and perhaps consider going with a little less (maybe only 9 inches).

BTW, I am extremely jealous of your cedar wood! I have two cedar trees on my property, would you send you husband to PA to cut them down and make some boards? I'll split the boards 50/50! He can keep half and I'll keep the other half. (I think that's fair compensation, no?!)

    Bookmark   May 17, 2009 at 7:47AM
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rachel597(5A ME)

I agree that the cost of filling 24-inches with Mel's Mix will be high and I don't think it will make a difference in the growth to your plants.

I have been trying to figure out a similar way of constructing a SFG for my mother who has some health issues that make it difficult to garden at ground level too.

You may want to consider filling the bottom 12-inches with compost or even garden soil to give your garden the height that it needs to be. However, it may compact or break down over time lowering the level of your Mel's Mix on top.

Corse sand is a good alternative as I think it will remain porous and allow extra water to drain.

Here is a link that might be useful: GrafixMuse's Garden Spot

    Bookmark   May 17, 2009 at 8:22AM
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Can you put a bottom in you beds about half way so that the inside planting depth is 12' but total depth is 24'? I saw some beds on legs, I'll have to see if I can find that again.

I can't find the pictures I had seen before but here's a couple of other ideas.




Here is a link that might be useful: raised garden bed

    Bookmark   May 17, 2009 at 5:29PM
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Raising the bed off the ground was what came to mind for me too when I read your post. Tessyrue had some great links for you. I remember one that had a cabinet storage underneath it as well, but can't find the site.
Here's another link with more pics of raised up beds.
Raised Beds. They're for sale, but the pics could give some ideas on how to build it out.
If you have the beds ready you can add a layer of plywood at 12" and just fill it up the rest of the 12" from there.

Let us know what you ended up doing and how it works :)

    Bookmark   May 18, 2009 at 12:22PM
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Hi everyone,

Thanks for the kind and thoughtful messages.

eaglesgarden, My husband said, with a big smile, "send pictures of trees" (little joke :-))

Thanks rachel597 ,tessyrue ( good links, very interesting, like to have that on the deck) and crystabel (thanks for the link also)

My dh has it almost done. I've been taking pictures. I'll try to figure out how to post one. He's a good builder, had to deal with slope of yard away from house. (compound angle)

Wanted everything level and square. This thing is heavy duty. I'll be so old when it falls apart, I'll have forgoten what it is for!

It's really important to us that it looks good too, since it is next to the patio with beautiful flowers.A huge trellis with flowering vines that covers the whole patio. Also the sun room is right next to the patio. Where we spend allot of time.

Looks like we will go with sand in the bottom 12" and mels mix in the top. I just can't find any compost other than cow manure.

I have the peat and vermiculite I need.

Although I called Menard's and sounds like they have one compost that is a couple different kinds mixed together. I think he mentioned marine compost.

I have seeds already. I got most of them from Le Jardin du Gorumet. You can get sample packets for 35cents, and different sizes of larger packets.

So, you can get just a few seeds, cheap, Just the number you need rather than a 3 or 5$ packet with way more seeds than you need. If you are growing for just one or two people, or just want to try something new.

I got 29 different packs of vegtable and herb seed for a few cents over 16$ And that was with four larger packs of the dollar size, and the rest sample size.

I only got eight packs of seeds for that at a local store.

They have allot of seeds from France and Italy.

For example I got a turnip Shogon & De Milan Rouge. And Haricot Dolique pole bean. Interesting chicory, Rouge de Trivese. Great names, eh? three different kinds of beets, 2 kinds of chard, three diff kinds of cucumbers, 3 diff kinds of carrots, etc.

I'm pretty exicited.

And I ordered four tomatoe plants and pepper plants from Seed Savers Exchange. Amish paste was one, can't remember the rest.


    Bookmark   May 19, 2009 at 1:40AM
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