Sunday, September 18, 2011

Easy as 1 2 3 4

          Building a framed raised bed of most any dimension is easy. The one we are using today is 4' x 8'. We used three 8' L x 10” H x 2”W boards, cutting 1 in half for the end pieces. Notice we screwed the boards together “end on”. This made the exterior dimension of the frame 48” versus placing both end pieces inside the long rails, which would have created a 48” interior space. Truly personal preference.

This unit is being used as a "jello mold" for soil at the CASA garden off of Bob Wallace. The soil in this area is only 2" – 3" deep with limestone gravel underneath. When you can't dig down, grow up.

Removing the top layer of weeds isn't absolutely necessary, but it was a glorious morning and it took about 3 minutes to using a broad hoe.
        Leveling the frame and removing the top layer of weeds was quickly done. It isn't perfectly level; there is a piece of concrete under the middle of the back rail that could not be removed without compromising the fence.
The key to weed control is an underlayment. We prefer cardboard in this situation but there was none on site today just newspaper, so we placed newspaper in the bottom, at least 8 sheets of paper thick to smother new weeds and to help keep Bermuda and vines from running under the frame.

On top of the paper we placed leaf mold from the City's leaf pile. We have no extra soil to use on this property; in fact we make soil to keep the gravel covered. We used three 8 cubic ft wheelbarrow loads to fill the frame. That is just shy of 1 cubic yard. ( 27 cubic feet) Then we added one 8 cubic foot wheel barrow load of compost on top. The bed is over filled now, but with a good soaking this mix should settle quickly and be ready for planting soon.

Total time for this project (with materials on site) and while also helping direct volunteer gardeners was a little over 2 hours.

     If lack of soil or adequate space is an issue, consider this form of container gardening. This soil- less mix is essentially composting in place. You can use other mixes or topsoil to fill your framed bed. This is a low cost way to start gardening on a small scale yet grow an amazing amount of food over the course of a year.

The best time to start a vegetable garden is right now.

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