raised-bed Raised Beds

Next season I am thinking about building some raised beds. I have been doing some research and I have learned a lot. Im thinking my beds will be about
6'(L) X 3'(W) X 1 1/2'(H). I also read that I should dig about 8-12" down for drainage. What would I put in its place to give the proper drainage? One of the biggest things I am trying to figure out is what all should I be filling the space with and how much. As of now all I have really come up with is that the mixture should involve compost, some kind of manure, some hay, and that's about it as of now. What would you guys recommend? What should I have in each layer and how much? Any help with this would be greatly appreciated.
 
Great idea. I went to home depot for my mother 2 days ago and bought (80) 16x8x4 concrete bricks. $1.16 per. She wanted an extension put on her raised beds on the side of the house. I was able to put all the loose rock and some bark in the beds as filler. Took about 2 hours. After leveling the footing row the rest was cake. Now I'll see if she'll grow some of my peppers in there.

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Hey there Crazy8. I have raised beds as well. I will get some pics up soon. I live close to Dallas and the soil here isn't too bad. It has a but too much clay, but overall isn't bad at my place. I didn't layer anything as you are talking about. My experience is little so that doesn't mean much. I just tilled the dirt about 6"-8" deep and then built the boxes varying heights from about 8" tall to 16" tall. All my beds are 4'x20'. That is just the size I came up with (again no experience, but they work great for me).

I then bought some "organic grower's mix" from a local company. That stuff sux and I have had a really hard time this year because of it. I can tell you this: The soil is MORE IMPORTANT than tha plants you put in it. With crappy soil, you will grow crappy plants!!!! FOR SURE!! You want something not too heavy or it will hold water too long. Not too much sand or it will drain too fast and not hold water thru a hot day. I like alot of organic matter like FULLY decomposed compost. The consistency of Miracle grow isn't bad but the fertilizer in it sux for veggies. Look at the top post in "Growing hot peppers" it is great for figuring out what soil to buy.

Then I mulch the top layer of my beds with 3" of Cedar mulch. This helps keep the soil temps lower in the summer heat. Any hardwood will work and last a couple seasons but cedar helps slightly with repelling bugs. Do not buy anything with a colored dye in it. It looks cool but the dye leaches into the plant and eventually you will be eating that. NO good. You can also use straw or hay. Sometimes hay has seeds in it and will make your bed full of weeds.


Hope I hepled ya out!
Good luck with your crop!! :twisted:
 
Here is a raised bed I built out of redwood. I built it up 3'high x3'16', so my wife could work in it because of back issues. I bought 5 yrds . of soil to fill it and the tomatos we put in have gone nuts. I definately overspent, but it came out nice and will last a long time. Soil worked great for the maters, but used the same stuff for the chiles and have had to repot.

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One of the other things I have read was that I should dig 8-12 inches down and loosen the soil for drainage. One question I had on that is if I loosen it and its for the purpose of drainage should I maybe do a 50/50 mix of soil/perlite to help assist in good drainage, the just build on top of that?
 
One of the other things I have read was that I should dig 8-12 inches down and loosen the soil for drainage. One question I had on that is if I loosen it and its for the purpose of drainage should I maybe do a 50/50 mix of soil/perlite to help assist in good drainage, the just build on top of that?

that would probably work. i only loosened about 6 inches down and just poured on top soil...not the best I'm sure but still having great results this year. No drainage issues and we have some pretty hard clay not too far down around here.
 
Yeah 8-12 sounded like a bit to me too. I suppose if you already had really bad drainage i could see doing that so maybe I will just do 6" as well with a 50% mix of perlite. As far as what to fill the raised bed with does this mix sound good? Im thinking of doing...

1/3 Topsoil
1/3 Compost
1/3 Perlite

I'll likely be using grass clippings as my mulch. Besides its free and I can just work it into the soil after every season. :)

Do I need or should I add anything like blood meal, bone meal, lime, or any of that stuff?
 
Yeah 8-12 sounded like a bit to me too. I suppose if you already had really bad drainage i could see doing that so maybe I will just do 6" as well with a 50% mix of perlite. As far as what to fill the raised bed with does this mix sound good? Im thinking of doing...

1/3 Topsoil
1/3 Compost
1/3 Perlite

I'll likely be using grass clippings as my mulch. Besides its free and I can just work it into the soil after every season. :)

Do I need or should I add anything like blood meal, bone meal, lime, or any of that stuff?

I add the meals (bone/blood) only when needed by the plants but i'm sure there's no problem with mixing them in right away.
 
Would blood meal maybe be better for leafy greens such as basil, lettuce, etc. or high nitrogen based foods like corn, than to be used with the peppers unless the N value in the soil is low and I need that boost? Bone meal I can see as being good since its a way for the plants to get a nice constant slow release of calcium for the season.
 
my 40' long raised bed for tomatos is 4 cinder blocks high (32")and one cinder block wide...the bottom of it is 8" off the ground (one cinder block = 8")...the bottom is cheap 16" X 16" ceramic tile (cheapest I could find was 76 cents each)...this allows for excellent drainage, will never have weeds growing up through the soil, and I like being able to pick tomatos without bending over...I originally filled it up 4 years ago with miracle grow soil because it was on sale...now each year, I add a little potting soil to replace what comes up with the roots when I pull my tomatos up...
 
AJ ..... being a raised bed fan myself you touched on something I've wondered about. I've asked about it before but am still a bit confused. You've been growing tomatoes in your raised beds for four years now. You say you add a little potting soil every year to make up for what comes out on the roots. I'm thinking that's not much compared to what is still in the beds already.

Everything I've read says you need to rotate your crops year to year. It helps keep you from getting the funkies that one crop may get if you grow it year after year.

PRF has also said he reuses his soil from his buckets and adds a little peat and maybe some vermiculite , don't remember for sure. So what's the deal ... have you guys mastered your craft so good that you keep diseases and such away ? I understand when you have a diseased plant get rid of it. And don't use it in your compost pile. Any feed back on this would sure help a bunch of us with raised beds.

Peace,
P. Dreadie
 
It is always a good idea to rotate crops, its just not always practical. I try to rotate all my in-ground tomatoes and other veggies every year but not container plants. I also re-use soil but discard anything that looks the least bit diseased or funky, and always till in new compost/manure
 
So POTAWIE you understand my issue. It's not easy or maybe not practical to rotate crops every year. But you made it sound like you try harder for "in ground " crops. Wouldn't a raised bed be pretty much the same as an in ground crop? It's the same space and same soil for the most part.

Thanks for all the help you give us newer growers!

Peace,
P. Dreadie
 
Wouldn't a raised bed be pretty much the same as an in ground crop? It's the same space and same soil for the most part.

I think this is where raised beds have an advantage...they don't have to be the same soil as whats in your ground. They can be customized with all fresh new material. But yes it would still take up the same space as far as the footprint on the ground.
 
I am no xpert at all but plan to keep a compost pile of my own that will be kept hot with organic material so at the end of the growing season when I PULL UP THE PLANTS I will add hot compost to the soil there by killing the would be preditors
 
I am no xpert at all but plan to keep a compost pile of my own that will be kept hot with organic material so at the end of the growing season when I PULL UP THE PLANTS I will add hot compost to the soil there by killing the would be preditors

That makes sense and sounds like a great idea. If you dont mind me getting on just a little rabbit trail here with the hot compost. We tried to do a compost pile last season and none of us turned it on a day to day basis and the stuff did compose but took a long time. We had it covered with a blue tarp and it did get a little sun for heat. Is there more to it than that? Does it need to be tended to daily and added to regularly? Should it be in full sun and maybe covered with a black tarp? Any secrets you have to a successful compost pile would be greatly appreciated.
 
I have used raised beds last year and this year and love them. Next year I am going to extend them up one level (they are built of 2"x6" treated 12' boards), they are 4'x12'. I tilled down about 8-10" and then filled them in with top soil, sphagnum moss and composted manure. Seems to be working for me, my maters are 4' tall and just starting to flower. LOL

My pepper boxes are another story all together, they are the same 2"x6" treated boards but I made them 2' x 12' instead to save some space. Unfortunately I wasnt aware of the crap that was under the grass when I built them so I had no choice in the soil department, especially since that was where they were going to be anyways due to the full sun factor of that area. There used to be an alley where the pepper boxes are along the back fence, which I wasnt aware of until I started tilling. I did the bext I could and picked out the larger rocks, then filled in with the same soil mix as the main garden. Next year I will remove the soil/gravel mix and replace it with a better mix. The peppers are growing ok, but nothing near to what my container plants are doing.

+1 on reading the sticky on soils on the main pepper growing page.
 
there are 2 things that are important first is size 3ft deep by 3 foot wide is the minimum, next is you have greens added for nytrogen (grass,garden waste) and browns(leaves) to help in decomposing. but you need to add manure. Make sure you put everything in layers keeping the last layer dirt/manure.
the more manure you add the hoter it will be. Also in the center if you want to really work quicker make a cylinder of hardware cloth 4 ft long and 6 inches diameter, this will allow more air in, like a chimeny. turn your mixture once a week to keep the process going!all the composting goes on in the center are the deepest part of the pile , so keep moving it and you will keep it going! right now my compost pile is 40 inches wide and 10 ft long but the pile inside is taking longer to fill so start with the 3x3 and get some going! don't be greedy like me!! LOL
 
So if you dont really have access to manure, are there other options? I do live in the cities and im not sure if thats just one of those things I can pick up at the local plant store...lol
 
well you can get manure at home depot but will not be hot. I DON'T KNOW THIS FOR SURE BUT IT WOULD SEEM TO ME THAT IF YOU REALLY PUT THE TIME RELEASE FERT (13-13-13) it would aid in making it hot. maybe someone else out there has done this? just a thought!!
 
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