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Readers Respond: Tips and Advice for Building a Raised Bed Garden

Responses: 28

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Raised bed gardens are a popular way to grow. Terrible soil, tree roots, lawn and weeds---they all become non-issues when you garden in a raised beds. Here, About Organic Gardening readers share their tips and advice for making and using a raised bed garden.

Metal raised beds

Does anyone have experience using metal roofing for raised beds? Also, we have a piece of property that is covered with black walnut trees, thus the need to make raised beds - how deep do I need to make them to avoid the plants reaching the contaminated soil? We'll be growing all the regulars - tomatoes, peppers, squash, eggplant, etc.
—barbeall

Question: Raised beds on concrete

Has anyone installed a raised bed on concrete, and if so, any advice would be appreciated.
—Guest Dan from California

Hazel

Raised Beds are perfect for using Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Intensive Gardening methods. I have used them in combination for years with continual success and great pleasure! We live where the winters are extreme (-40F) yet have not met with any problems. There are gophers and moles about, but they seem more interested in staying out of our way. Could be the number of cats in the yard!
—C.Hag

build the soil

The best tip I can offer is to take time to build the soil in raised beds so that they can offer the optimal growing environment for the plants. Mix vermiculite and peat and compost in equal parts into topsoil and till to a depth of at least 8 inches. This will keep the soil friable, fertile, and moisture retaining.
—DiggerDigby

What to use!?

i hear alot of people saying not to use composit lumber, but then what should i use? I am not going to use cinder blocks they are too much work. What do i use!?!?!
—Guest Kate

Free beds

A friend gave me this idea! Our local feed store also sells vinyl fencing. When they get the fencing delivered, the bundles are held together with 2x4's already nailed together in a variety of squares and rectangles. The feed store removes them intact and tosses them aside. All you have to do is ask for them and they'll even load them in your truck! I stack 2 high and secure them together with zip ties. Works perfect!
—Guest Wendy

Free beds

A friend gave me this idea! Our local feed store also sells vinyl fencing. When they get the fencing delivered, the bundles are held together with 2x4's already nailed together in a variety of squares and rectangles. The feed store removes them intact and tosses them aside. All you have to do is ask for them and they'll even load them in your truck! I stack 2 high and secure them together with zip ties. Works perfect!
—Guest Wendy

Raised Beds

I disagree with the author regarding cost and difficulty using cement blocks vs wood. Blocks are cheaper, last forever, and are more versatile (you can make curves). Also, PVC connectors can be cemented in the holes of the blocks and you can build a frame for a mini greenhouse or hotbed. Hardware cloth on the bottom will solve your mole/gopher problems.
—Guest JC

Raised beds and gophers

For gopher problems simply lay a couple layers of gopher proof wire mesh down and build your beds over that. Then fill with soil. I had a container garden and gophers were able to eat and burrow up through the bottom of the plastic pots. Wire mesh worked well for preventing that and still allows drainage.
—Guest Dean DaCosta

Raised gardens

I have grown tomatoes and hot peppers in raised beds for several years now. I cover the top of the soil with landscaping fabric, then hay. This keeps the weeding to a minimum and prevents soil from drying out too quickly. Very low maintenance!
—nlr52

Miriam

Tandy, if you want this to be certified 'organic' the railroad ties won't work. The creosote(sp?) expends a chemical that will disqualify your veggies. :-(
—Guest Miriam

Gopher control in raised beds

To stop gophers (moles) I put two layers of baby chick wire (with the small 1 in. holes) on the ground before I built my beds. They cant get up thru the wire.
—Guest Don

Keyhole garden

You might like to look at this; I saw the idea working well in Lesotho: http://www.sendacow.org.uk/keyhole-gardens
—Guest Alan

leach field

question. Is it safe to put a raised bed over or near a septic tank drain field, where waste water is pumped. No above ground water-pipes under about 6 inches of soil. Help?
—Guest irmodave

Composit Lumber Toxicity

Bill in Illinois writes: "Only plastic lumber that is high density polyethylene is non-toxic. Composit lumber that contains wood, PVC or Polystyrene is toxic." My question for Bill is how do you know if it is high density or not? Most composit lumber contains wood, so I guess it is toxic.
—Guest Bill Brikiatis

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