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Thread: Raised bed vegetable garden

  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Aug 2011
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    Raised bed vegetable garden

    I am in the beginning stages of planning this, and finding myself wanting more information. I need to do a raised bed for a couple of reasons: because the ground here is peat, if it's tilled and amended it's wonderful, but putting plants straight into the ground, um, not so good results- when it gets hot, the peat dries as hard as concrete. Also, I need to protect it from my dogs, who love to dig up and chew and eat plants! I have about 25 or so concrete blocks, so I am going to use those, and add to them, to make a bed that occupies roughly 9 x 9 ft. Beyond that, I'm not sure!

    I've looked on Pinterest and youtube, I see "keyhole" designs...the back side will be up against the fence, so I am sort of envisioning a U shape, which would be about 46 sq ft, with the outside edges maybe 3 blocks high, and the inside edge 2 blocks high, with some sort of gate at the front to keep the canines out... But maybe a large L shape would be better, actually 6 sq ft more planted space (52 sq ft) ...

    As far as soil, I think I want to get a few bags of "raised bed mix" to mix with the native soil. I have a friend nearby who has offered fresh chicken manure, and then there are copious amounts of fall leaves... but I'm unclear how all this works together.

    So I need ideas, i.e. voices of experience, on both design of bed and soil, please.

    PS This is northern California, along the Sacramento River, we get very hot summers, mostly 100 degree-plus days, low 60's at night, mild winters, lows in the 40's, highs in the 50-60's, seldom freezes, and only for a few hours at a time.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Jun 2012
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    Wondering if the local library and university extension centers might be a good resource. Something like square foot gardening in the library?

  3. #3
    Senior Member herbgeek's Avatar
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    Dec 2010
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    As far as the soil goes, you can just mix the manure and the leaves and leave it until spring, and the soil critters will do the rest. On the bed, try not to have any area more than 3-4 feet wide so that you can reach everything without having to step on the soil. An upside down U might work for you. Keep in mind if these are the cement blocks with empty centers, you could put soil inside those, and have herbs flowing over the outside.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Dec 2010
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    I would suggest you reconsider the size of your raised beds. Usually a maximum of 4 feet wide enables you to reach the center from either side. Also, the Sacramento County farm advisor recommends using 70% top soil and 30% compost to start in a raised bed. Then fertilize before planting.

    Chicken manure has the highest nitrogen level of the other fertilizers so is recommended for use in vegetable gardens. But only once it is completely composted. Otherwise you need to worry about ecoli.

    The Sacramento county Master gardeners have events at their demonstration garden 10 times a year and the next event is October 11 from 9 - 12. Their garden is called the Fair Oaks Horticulture center in Fair Oaks. Drop by if you can or check the website here. http://sacmg.ucanr.edu/Fair_Oaks_Horticulture_Center/

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