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A garden is only as good as the ground that it's planted in. Discussion forum for the many ways to improve the soil where we plant our gardens.

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Old August 23, 2007   #1
bryanccfshr
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Default Permanent no till raised beds.

In an effort to expand my planting areas I have added more raised beds with permanent pathways so that the growing soil never gets walked on.

In all I added 2 4x14 beds, 2 4x5 beds and a 2x8 bed for an interesting new growing area.

The area was hardpacked area that was hardly supporting Bermuda..mostly weeds and bermuda.

A month before beggining the projject after carefull consideration and refering to some organic and holisitic Gurus I decided that Roundup carefully applied would be the most sure way to supress the Bermuda. (Sorry, although I love the natural way, some things like Bermuda and Johnson grass, once established will laugh at vineger and attempts to smother) I used personal precautions and sprayed on a calm day. After having done the "dirty work" it was time to styart laying out the beds.

I used white pine lumber to set up my perimeters and simply used l brackets to secure them together.
LAying out the beds no wider than 4' allows me to reach anything on the beds without stepping into them.
Once layed out and squared up My wife and I decided it was best to purchase bulk soil. I used a 3n1 mix of compost, Red sand and sandy loam and this went directly over the dead bermuda growing in hardpacked alkaline caliche clay. 5.5" thick. all the way to the top of the 2x6's. It will shrink and settle some.

I mixed in Coffed grounds and some of my own Compost as we added some herbs, Tomatoes , squach and peppers to one bed to get a fall crop going. In the other 4x14 I applied an inoculated legume mix of Mung beans, pinto beans and some peas aling with some spilled brassica seed that was a mix of brocolli and radishes. Just to get some roots in the soil. This will all be green manured for my late fall cooler weather crops.

After all the rain this year the I have 2 Brandywines still healthy and producing ! These plants were put into raised beds. All the plants in the ground. have already been pulled and replaced do to "issues with insects and blight)

Back to my new beds, Once all in place I then covered the p3"wide paths between them with landscap fabric and then applied 4" thick of Pea gravel. This will help maintain deep soil moisture, supress weeds and extend my growing season (More radiant heat in earlier spring and late fall)

With several growing areas that I can rotate among and improve with I can now add some more heirlooms to the mix.
Next year I will be growing Brandywines from saved seed from this years good plants, as well as Cherokee purple, A Gold heirloom and many Cherriy varieties.

This fall I have 2 brandywines still going, 2 black Cherries thanks to Worth, and a few Romas' at my wifes request.

I also have tons of Squash and Zuchini, Cauliflower, and soon Broccolli, and cabbage and spinnach, and winter peas.

I also plan on putting in Daikon radish into the rotation for the deep soil conditioning to break up the heavy sub soil.


I will get some daylight Photos of the progress this weekend. The overall goal is to have healthy biologically active soil that will need little supplementation other than cover cropping and the addition of Fertilizer and minerals that are harvested in the Veggie crops. I apologize for the poor image quality. I will add my daylight pics soon.







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Old August 23, 2007   #2
Zana
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Great looking job you did. I love the use of the pea gravel paths. Low maintenance pathways are my kind of thing. I'm spoiled right now since all my pots and containers are on concrete around the pool/patio, so no weeding except the pots/containers themselves.

Question: (And I'm only asking this since I've considered doing virtually the same thing here.) Is the 5.5" of soil really deep enough for some of the larger tomato varieties to set down sufficient roots or does it need to be deeper? I was going to use 2x10's or biscuit together 2x8's, to make mine deeper. (The other reason I'd like it deeper it means I don't have to kneel or bend as much and my ol' knees and back will thank me for that, big time.)

Could anybody else chime in on how deep is enough?
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Old August 23, 2007   #3
bryanccfshr
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There is soil underneath that is a black clay that is 6-8" deep over decayed limestine, caliche subsoil so the 5.5 inches is just additional soil, the roots will go down where the moisture is abundent. Being covered the clay soil will stay moist and be penatrable by roots. The more I grow over it the more penetration into it with roots and soil life and it will soften up.
This is one reason I am using cover crops and deep rooted Brassicas. I also live in a very hot area and did not wish to raise the bed too high and risk drying out but I wanted some elevation to prevent oversaturation in the clay soil.

You may be able to go with a higher bed because you are in a cooler area. That would be helpfull with the stooping.

My goal is to have a slightly raised bed that doesn't dry out and for the the soil I added and organic ammendments and cover crops to enrich the soil beneath it. My raised beds I instaled last year have great healthy soil, earthworms and the plants are doing great.
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Old August 27, 2007   #4
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Old August 27, 2007   #5
shelleybean
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I really love the pea gravel. I'm sure it's not cheap but you don't have to replace it nearly as often as you would mulch.

My raised beds are a foot deep but they have to be. The area where my garden is just happens to be the same spot where they drove all the heavy equipment through to dig and build my pool. There's no way I could ever loosen up that soil after that machinery went over it. We have a lot of sand in our gardens here by the beach so it drains pretty well, but I still think at least eight inches is good. Thank you for posting your pics.
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Old August 27, 2007   #6
bryanccfshr
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Thanks Shelleybean for your kind coments. There are a lot of Quaries around here so I hauled my own pea gravel in my truck for less than $20 a yard. I spent about 80 bucks on pea gravel. Less than that for lumber and fastners and less than 40 so far for additional soil mixes. I spent less than $200 so far on this area(though several days of my sweat and labor). The chopped limestone block used as edging you may see in some pics was also relatively inexpensive. If I lived in Virginia I would use more wood products, stone products are really inexpensive where I live.

I still need to fill a couple of beds with soil, compost and plantings but I am enjoying the new planting areas. Today I planted more squash/Zuchini as well as the first round of fall broccolli, cabbage, carrots and cucumbers .
I am beggining the process of chopping the mung bean cover crop on one bed and working it into the soil so more fall veggies coming. I am having fun.

The only thing I have to figure out is how I want to arrange the Tomato plantings next spring.
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