raised-bed Raised bed?

Jackson13 said:
What is the typical depth most people use for a raised bed for peppers and tomatoes?
 
I have several raised beds - we're up to 8 now due to our heavy clay soil.  About half of them are made with 10" cedar planking and the other half are 12" cedar planking.  We have one that's only 8" that I bought off amazon last year.  Thus far I have had great results with all the beds, regardless of bed height.  An extra inch or so of soil just doesn't make much difference to the plants - and we've grown mostly peppers, tomatoes, cukes, squash, greens, etc.  All do well in the beds as we top dress with compost each spring.
 
A couple things I will share about raised beds though:  
 
1. Do a great job of getting rid of the grass under your bed.  The first couple years we were putting them in I tilled the area where the beds were going in and did not do a thorough job and now grass is creeping into the beds and must be pulled.
 
2. They will need less water than containers, but they need more water than stuff planted in the ground.  I did some experimenting with hegelkulture in the newest of our 12" beds and it really does work.  Of all our beds those two need the least amount of water, and they get southeastern exposure every day.  YMMV.
 
So you think typically I dont need more than 12 inches deep of soil? I have used 2.5 gallon pots for maters and peppers for the last seven years. I usually fill 50 of those because of clay soil also. I spent more time watering 3 times a day than working. Lol.
 
The cure for heavy clay soil is lots of organic matter. If you can do a combination of tilling in a local area, and adding a lot of organic matter under the soil in the raised beds, you'll have a winner.
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Raised beds mean different things to different people. I have sand. My raised beds touch the ground. Every year, the worms draw some of the soil in the bed deeper into the ground. That's OK, that's how it's supposed to work.
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I have to say straight up, though, if I were blessed with heavy clay soil, I'd go to the trouble to condition it. A couple straight years of heavy top dressing, and you'll be amazed at what that stuff turns into.
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I'd implore you to do do your raised beds this year, but be treating some patches of ground, too. Believe me, it's worthwhile.
 
Jackson13 said:
What is the typical depth most people use for a raised bed for peppers and tomatoes?
 
 
My raised beds are for retaining moisture in our very dry climate.
They are 3 feet high and plastic lined. More like huge containers on top of the soil.
 
I believe you should ask yourself , what is the purpose of the raised bed and how much compost you have available to fill it?
 
 
Raised beds.jpg

 
 
Jackson13 said:
So you think typically I dont need more than 12 inches deep of soil? I have used 2.5 gallon pots for maters and peppers for the last seven years. I usually fill 50 of those because of clay soil also. I spent more time watering 3 times a day than working. Lol.
 
Just speaking from my experience 5 years in using what I have it's been enough.  After enough top dressing the nutrients have gotten into the soil underneath, helping to loosen the clay and the plants grow down into it.  And even in times of drought we water only about twice a week using soaker hoses.  
 
SmokenFire said:
2. They will need less water than containers, but they need more water than stuff planted in the ground.  I did some experimenting with hegelkulture in the newest of our 12" beds and it really does work.  Of all our beds those two need the least amount of water, and they get southeastern exposure every day.  YMMV.
 

Wow thanks for the intro to hegelkultur. Just went down this rabbithole and have to say I am very interested. Got some rotting ash that my fit the bill here, will do some more reading before trying it out.
Would love to read more about your experience if you can share or have posted it elsewhere.
 
idrop said:
Wow thanks for the intro to hegelkultur. Just went down this rabbithole and have to say I am very interested. Got some rotting ash that my fit the bill here, will do some more reading before trying it out.
Would love to read more about your experience if you can share or have posted it elsewhere.
Where in 9b are you located?
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Hugelkultur works better in some places than others. I've had marginal success with it here, but nowhere as dramatic as other places that I've seen. I think alot of it depends on the fertility of your environs... Not so good on a sand dune. :(
 
idrop said:
 
Wow thanks for the intro to hegelkultur. Just went down this rabbithole and have to say I am very interested. Got some rotting ash that my fit the bill here, will do some more reading before trying it out.
Would love to read more about your experience if you can share or have posted it elsewhere.
 
The last two beds we put in 2 years ago I used hegelkultur - basically adding some of our more seasoned cut firewood chunks to the bottom of the beds after they were dug out and then filled with soil & compost.  The beds are only 12" deep and they round up about 2-4" or so above that level.  The first year I didn't notice much a difference in those beds versus other beds, but the following year the difference was notable.  Those beds need the least amount of water out of all our beds as they retain moisture very well - especially if we put in leafy crops that shade the soil.  Whereas our other beds get watered at least once a week (sometimes twice) the hegelkultur beds get watered 2 or 3 times a month max.  I expect that trend to continue this year.
 
If I had it to do again I would change one thing:  I'd make the beds narrow & long instead of square - getting into the middle of a 6' x 6' bed when everything is grown in is a pita.  We plan on putting in a couple more beds next year or so, and I will use the same basic premise with those that I did with the last two.  The beds do need a bit more compost than others each spring as we lose a bit of the soil to wind erosion.        
 
SmokenFire - the best Hugelkultur beds that I have seen, were mounds. They were covered with grass. (like pasture grass or something). The guy I know that built them never did anything after making the piles, and they're still good, 10 years on...
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No rows, no maintenance. Just walk over the grass to get to what you need to get at. That's also part of the strategy, as any grass or plants that you trudge down which break off, become part of the pile. Plus, it eliminates erosion.
 
solid7 said:
Where in 9b are you located?
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Hugelkultur works better in some places than others. I've had marginal success with it here, but nowhere as dramatic as other places that I've seen. I think alot of it depends on the fertility of your environs... Not so good on a sand dune. :(
 

I'm near San Jose, CA
Have a patch of yard that I dug into which is mostly clay and had grass growing on top, was thinking of this spot as a potential hegelkultur test bed.
 
SmokenFire said:
 
The last two beds we put in 2 years ago I used hegelkultur - basically adding some of our more seasoned cut firewood chunks to the bottom of the beds after they were dug out and then filled with soil & compost.  The beds are only 12" deep and they round up about 2-4" or so above that level.  The first year I didn't notice much a difference in those beds versus other beds, but the following year the difference was notable.  Those beds need the least amount of water out of all our beds as they retain moisture very well - especially if we put in leafy crops that shade the soil.  Whereas our other beds get watered at least once a week (sometimes twice) the hegelkultur beds get watered 2 or 3 times a month max.  I expect that trend to continue this year.
 
If I had it to do again I would change one thing:  I'd make the beds narrow & long instead of square - getting into the middle of a 6' x 6' bed when everything is grown in is a pita.  We plan on putting in a couple more beds next year or so, and I will use the same basic premise with those that I did with the last two.  The beds do need a bit more compost than others each spring as we lose a bit of the soil to wind erosion.        
 

Sweet, thanks for the tip.
 
I made raised beds with 2x6s, so they're only 6" deep.  When I set them up I took a weed burner and nuked all the plants growing on the ground where the beds were going to go.  Tilled up the topsoil there a bit and placed the 2x6s down, added my engineered soil to the beds.  Saved a lot of money doing it this way, making good soil is expensive! haha if money wasn't an option I would do 12" beds.
 
Thanks for all the input and pics. I greatly appreciate it and looks like several options for me to consider in a very short time.
 
idrop said:
 
I'm near San Jose, CA
Have a patch of yard that I dug into which is mostly clay and had grass growing on top, was thinking of this spot as a potential hegelkultur test bed.
 
That's a big yes.
 
When I built my garden it was over a large patch of grassy area. I was lazy and just covered the whole thing with thick weed mat. Put the beds in and the first two beds I cut all the grass out from underneath them. The other beds the weed mat was still there. I obviously had slightly larger plants in the beds with no weed mat. This  year I used a post hole digger, dug the holes, cut weedmat out each hole and dug down another 2 feet. Mixed some the garden mix with perlite and  some amendments. Hoping to see a bit of a difference in plant size this year. 
 
My raised beds are only 8"  
 
D3monic said:
When I built my garden it was over a large patch of grassy area. I was lazy and just covered the whole thing with thick weed mat. Put the beds in and the first two beds I cut all the grass out from underneath them. The other beds the weed mat was still there. I obviously had slightly larger plants in the beds with no weed mat. This  year I used a post hole digger, dug the holes, cut weedmat out each hole and dug down another 2 feet. Mixed some the garden mix with perlite and  some amendments. Hoping to see a bit of a difference in plant size this year. 
 
My raised beds are only 8"  
I've done that and the plants definitely did better without the mat.  Since you had a mat over the grass last year they should be pretty much dead this year, you could just remove them completely instead of cutting holes?
 
Doelman said:
I've done that and the plants definitely did better without the mat.  Since you had a mat over the grass last year they should be pretty much dead this year, you could just remove them completely instead of cutting holes?
That would be two dump trucks worth of soil to dig out... ill stick with digging holes for now
 
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