Long time readers will know Mayo and I bought a place that turned out to have poor soil and not much of it above the rocks. This meant we had to build and use raised bed vegetable gardening systems for our heirloom plants. And then last year (2013) our gardens on three sides of the house were moved/destroyed because we had to repair our foundation.
2014 sees us re-enter the fray with our raised bed vegetable gardening ideas further developed and enlarged.
Many of you know my better half is an heirloom vegetable expert so we grow a great many of those plants every year to keep the seed going and to enlarge her collection. Yeah, believe it or not, she wants to add even more seeds to that collection. This means that as the head gardener I have to build more beds for her but I’ve made it clear this is the extent of our garden building efforts. (yeah right) 😉
Issues In Raised Bed Gardening
One of the problems we ran into several years ago was too-high soil heat levels in smaller raised beds. Cooling the soil was a problem with them and our harvests were reduced considerably because of this. And no, adding even more water wasn’t the answer – that was simply cooking the roots or drowning them rather than cooling them down.
This meant we wanted our beds to be deeper than we’d had before and larger to give us a cooler soil. The big raised bed vegetable gardening idea was created and planned out.
Our large raised bed vegetable garden in April before planting began.
This large bed is 40-feet long and 12-feet wide. With another 8-foot section off to the left as you’re looking at it.. It is 4 2×4 boards high – approximately 15-inches deep.
The overhead boards serve two functions. The first and important is to hold the sides vertical. Without this extra support, the weight of the soil would push out the wooden side and eventually knock them down. At the very least, there’d be a heck of a bow outwards in the middle.
The second function is to act as supports for all our vertical crops. (You don’t think we can grow everything Mayo wants to grow without a lot of vertical garden space saving do you?) 🙂
I’m still cleaning up and sorting out steps to the entrance etc so that will come.
Note the crop fabric warming up the soil to the left of the picture. Gotta get an early start and warm some of this soil up.
This is our raised bed garden for asparagus. I had enough soil at this area to dig down a few inches and so only had to build a 3-board high bed. The support at the end is for clematis or other flowering vine. Growing them on the north side of the bed will not cast shade on any vegetables behind this bed (it’s only lawn and people places to the north)
I would have used something more decorative for the trellis but this is a high-wind zone and that kind of wind resistance would have guaranteed we’d come back in the spring to downed trellis sections. Yes, I could concrete those posts into the ground but that’s a bit excessive for the moment. Having said that, I do reserve the right to change my mind on this. 🙂
Crop Support Details
A detail of the uprights. Notice I’ve used concrete reinforcing wire as the supports for growing any vine crop in a vertical garden. I used the wire bent over the 2×4 itself as the support and simply tied the overlap to the vertical section (back to itself and not to the cross-member) to hold it in place.
I put concrete wire horizontally down the north side of this vegetable garden. Again, vertical gardening is critical and this is the north side. This is perfect for early crops of peas and there are already (April 30) four varieties of peas along this area
Part of what we’re doing here is setting ourselves up for the next 10-15 years of gardening. The wood was all common spruce but treated with vegetable oil to delay rotting. I can guarantee that we’ll want to change the design by then so… 🙂
You’re seeing it at the 90% completion rate. The drip irrigation has to be laid out, strings for growing tomatoes vertically installed, landscaping around it done etc etc. All of these things were secondary to getting the soil right and getting planting started this spring.
At this point, I’m tossing composted manure on it and getting the newly arrived soil set to produce crops. I have no doubt we’ll have to add some liquid feeding this summer because our soil simply won’t be alive soon enough – no matter how much compost we add, it’s going to take several years of doing it to bring this soil alive. A word to the wise there -supplemental feeding is a great idea to keep the garden healthy and growing.
It can be a touch tricky to see in the pics but the garden bed layout is based on old greenhouse space saving systems.
There’s a single bed along each side – approximately 24-inches wide
Each support also marks a bed running under the support with narrow pathway strips between them. In other words, the vegetables go under the crop supports. We use the narrow walkways to reach the side beds and work on both sides of the bed under the support. This will be clearer in pictures I post this summer as the garden progresses.