Got Raised Bed Gardening Questions?

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

karen May 12, 2012 at 6:47 pm

I have a raised bed garden that is about 4×8 – last year, I could Not get even lettuce to sprout.. this year, I added compost, planted early and the weather is hot and gorgeous.. still no sprouting.. lettuce, carrots, kale.. now I see lots and lots of little small ants going here and there.. assuming this is the problem? what to do.. do they eat seeds? should I remove the dirt, use an organic, home recipe for getting rid of ants.. are they even the problem?

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Carole May 14, 2012 at 10:00 am

I have severe Rheumatoid Arthrits and LOVE to garden, my better half was kind enough to build me raised beds so I can continue my passion. However, they are 24’x24″x24″, I do not want to order 14 yrds of topsoil to fill these things and cannot come up with an inexpensive “filler” to take up at least a foot of the space. Any ideas???

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John Sedlak May 14, 2012 at 5:54 pm

We have five raised bed vegetable gardens. The question is: to till or not to till? I’ve heard pros and cons. What is your oppinion?

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lars May 21, 2012 at 3:23 pm

@John

I use the Square Foot Gardening soil recipe in my raised bed garden. I don’t typically till. Although if the bed has settled and I add more of the mix (vermiculite/peat/compost), it requires either premixing, or mixing in to the existing soil. So I wouldn’t be strongly for or against.

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Dick May 21, 2012 at 3:09 pm

I’ve just built several raised bed frames, but have not put in any soil yet. Should I cover the ground in the frame with a plastic barrier before putting in the soil? Should I drill drain holes at the base of the frames to allow excess water to drain out?

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lars May 21, 2012 at 3:25 pm

@Dick

Use landscaping fabric, which is porous, but blocks weeds. You can also use layers of wet newspaper or wet cardboard, which will typically last long enough to prevent any weeds from growing through. I wouldn’t use plastic.

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vivian May 22, 2012 at 1:31 pm

I would like to build a raised bed garden on the south side of my house but my husband is worried about having it against the foundation. He’s worried it won’t drain and will keep water against our foundation. Is this a concern?

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lars April 24, 2013 at 10:53 am

@Vivian

It depends. If constructed properly with landscaping fabric or some kind of porous weed blocker underneath, it shouldn’t make a difference. I suppose the fact that you are watering that spot next to your foundation and not the rest of the foundation could theoretically make a difference, but I personally wouldn’t worry about it.

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Toni VanGorder February 17, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Can I use old bedroom bed frames for my raised garden bed, is there something I can do to prevent the leaching of any bad chemicals?

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lars April 24, 2013 at 10:52 am

@Toni

I wouldn’t worry too much, and I think the bed frame would be fine. It has been safe enough that you have slept next to it for years, so it’s probably okay as a border where it will barely touch some dirt that your plant roots probably won’t even come into contact with. Some people still use railroad ties to border their gardens!

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carrie April 3, 2013 at 10:56 am

do i need to dig up the grass and soil in my yard before making my raised garden or can i just put up the frame and fill it with soil?

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lars April 3, 2013 at 12:40 pm

@carrie

You will get better results if you dig up the grass. At the very least, you need to put down some kind of weed barrier at the bottom before you put in more soil, or the grass will simply grow up through the dirt.

You can use a commercial landscaping type of weed barrier, or you can make your own out of several layers of wet cardboard and/or wet newspaper.

http://organicgardening.about.com/od/organicgardenmaintenance/a/raisedbedtips.htm
http://birdsandbloomsblog.com/2012/03/19/cardboard-gardening-turning-lawn-into-garden-bed/

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Linda April 24, 2013 at 10:43 am

What vegetable plants are good to grow in raised bed gardens? Last year the tomato’s did great,but the cucumber’s we’re terrible. Any idea’s? Thank you

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lars April 24, 2013 at 10:48 am

@Linda

Everything you can grow in a traditional garden you can grow in a raised bed garden. You’ll want to take a second look at what your soil mix was for the raised bed. Since you control the soil in a raised bed garden, you can “do it wrong” with poor quality soil and hurt the quality of your vegetable plants.

It might have just been a fluke. Sometimes you have bad years, or a pest gets your plants.

And finally, you want to consider your watering pattern, and whether or not you were watering enough, not enough, or too much.

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TooTall May 5, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Hi,
My family is “the tall family” so we are building a raised garden bed, raised 3 ft. off the ground! What would you suggest using for the floor of the bed? Plywood drilled with drainage holes? Chicken wire covered with landscape fabric? Mesh screen with burlap? We will be growing vegetables. Many thanks for your time and expertise!

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lars May 6, 2013 at 2:14 pm

@TooTall

The soil and plants will be very heavy, so chicken wire won’t cut it. Some of the commercial solutions use wooden slats, with a plastic kind of mesh that holds soil but still drains. The plastic kind of mesh keeps the dirt off the slats, so that they don’t rot as quickly. Plywood with a lot of drainage holes covered with some kind of weed barrier to keep the dirt from directly contacting the wood might work.

Good luck! Upload photos to Flickr or make a YouTube video and come back and give us a link so we can see what you did.

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Lorraine van Galen June 24, 2013 at 11:08 pm

I am just experiencing my first year of container gardening. However it seems as though I have way too much growth on plants. Do you have any suggestions. Lorraine

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