Raised beds

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Raised beds

Postby TexCub » Fri Jan 23, 2009 11:38 am

Getting just about time to start gardening here (a warm 78 degrees here today). Our soil is really poor: topsoil was scraped by retarded developer, heavy clay at least 24" down; hard to get it to retain water and hard to get it to dry out once it does. In the past we've amended the soil and planted the garden (small, 25' x 50') "in grade" or in other words, added sand, vermiculite, manure, and tilled. In years past we've had nematodes (I think) so bad that it destroyed the garden. This year we're thinking of two things:

1. Correct the drainage issue (my tilling created a "pan-effect" by creating a very permeable area but water was trapped on the downhill side by the existing compacted ground) and keep amending the existing soil and plant "in the ground".

2. Have topsoil / planting mix (sandy loam with organic matter) brought in and garden in a series of 2 - 3 raised beds or hills. Not going to build a box around, the beds would be approximately 3'-4' wide and 18"-24" high in the center.

Does anyone garden using mounds such as these? Anything I should be aware of down here in Texas using raised beds (soil temps might be too high since the beds aren't as insulated by surrounding earth ,etc?


Thanks for any input! We've only grown a garden for about 3 years and I'm more focused than ever to grow as much as I can of what we eat (for cost and other reasons). I want to do it as best as I can and y'all have much more experience than we do.


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Re: Raised beds

Postby DanR » Sat Jan 24, 2009 8:38 am

Why not go ahead and use that 25x50 area? You can easily make raised rows with your Cub. As for the nemos they can be controlled if you start now. Even if you bring in top soil your beds will get the nemos so go after them first. I don't think a 3x5x18-24 with no sides makes good sense. I can picture a good heavy rain wiping out your garden. What ever you decide keep us posted.
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Re: Raised beds

Postby smigelski » Sat Jan 24, 2009 11:46 am

I would plow past where you want your garden. I would also plow deep to brake up the hard pan. At the lower end of the garden, past where you want to plant I would put in a French Drain. I would then keep adding to the soil with compost to improve it. Use grub-x before planting and after the season.
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Re: Raised beds

Postby SONNY » Sat Jan 24, 2009 12:53 pm

I usually get in trouble for suggesting this,--BUT---this is what we do here SUB-SOILER---DEEP!---(seriously, thats what we do!)---every fall after harvest I take the big sub and go over everything as deep as I can pull it then set it deeper and go over it again!---( usually make it down to 18- 24")--THEN moulboard plow a foot deep,--let it winter out and in the spring you have good loose ground!

NOW,--- in your case you could do the same, only put on the good top dirt/compost etc. and then run the sub several times over it to mix it in deep,--- I would still plow to help mix the added soil better and quicker (this will coax the plant roots down to the moisture),after that you may only have to till the top as deep as you can to get good fine soil to act as a "dust mulch" on top,--during the growing season maintain the fine soil and dont walk on it as that makes hard water pockets!-- this will let water and air down fast and hold it deeper in the ground, while letting the top remain fairly dry so as to not drown the garden plants!

Another thing as to raised beds,---they will work, and are good,--BUT on the downside of using them is the fact that you have to water them every day or use soaker hoses, drip system, etc.!
If you do decide to go with them, do 2 things!--(1) Rip the area DEEP before you install the beds! (2) you will need to use a frame of some sort around the outer edge to hold the dirt in place.(trust me on this!!!)

This is our basic soil prep techniques that work VERY well here for us and should work for most areas too! thanks; sonny
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Re: Raised beds

Postby Jim Stobaugh » Sun Jan 25, 2009 11:04 pm

Dave,

I know it doesn't get quite as hot in Texas as here in Arizona but I believe you have many of the same problems as I have. First don't do raised beds as such. The soil gets too hot in the summer when raised. I add a lot of horse manure in the winter time and dig it in the "beds". The "beds are 3 feet wide with about 1 1/2 feet for walking between them. Dig deep as others have said but add a lot of organic matter so it will stay moist in the summer heat. After I plant and the seedlings come up I add 1 to 2 inches of compost or if I am lazy "most of the time" I add horse manure that has aged. I don't use steer manure as I found it to be too salty. I found a source for clean horse manure and it makes the difference. Horse manure isn't real high in nitrogen as cow and other manures so I get away with aged manure directly on the garden. Another thing if you have problems getting manure I use clover and plant it in the winter time. I dig it in some in the spring but let enough not die so it continues to grow while my plants are growing. It will keep the soil cool and add nitrogen.
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Re: Raised beds

Postby TexCub » Mon Jan 26, 2009 9:19 am

Thanks for the input! I think we're going to do as you guys suggest:

1) Dig REALLY deep
2) Add French Drain to low side of garden (this is going to help tremendously)
3) Start treating nematodes now (plan on getting w/Extension agent, as they may have other tips for things I'm not aware of
4) No raised beds--I was tempted by a guy I saw on TV who had them (think he was in Minnesota or somewhere way up there)

Thanks again and I hope to report back in a month or so with a budding garden photo!!!

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Re: Raised beds

Postby Boss Hog » Mon Jan 26, 2009 5:40 pm

DanR wrote:Why not go ahead and use that 25x50 area? You can easily make raised rows with your Cub. As for the nemos they can be controlled if you start now. Even if you bring in top soil your beds will get the nemos so go after them first. I don't think a 3x5x18-24 with no sides makes good sense. I can picture a good heavy rain wiping out your garden. What ever you decide keep us posted.


Dan, how do you get rid of the nematodes as of now there is nothing on the market that you can get to kill them that I am aware of ?
We use to use nemacure but it is no longer available

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Re: Raised beds

Postby Bill Hudson » Mon Jan 26, 2009 5:59 pm

Dave,

You might want to contact your local TAMU County Extension Agent - Horticulture. Their office is in Conroe and their website is http://montgomery-tx.tamu.edu/staff.cfm

This is the fellow you want to talk to about your questions:
Mr. Thomas R. LeRoy
County Extension Agent-Horticulture
CEA-HORT (County Coordinator)
[09074]
9020 FM 1484 Rd
Conroe, TX 773034334
Phone: 936-539-7824
Fax: 936-788-8394
Email: t-leroy@tamu.edu

He should be able to give you the straight scoop.

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Re: Raised beds

Postby DanR » Tue Jan 27, 2009 8:47 am

Goggle VAPAM
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Re: Raised beds

Postby Boss Hog » Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:10 am

Thats like the old Bromo gas we use to get , and you have to have a pesticide license to buy or use it too I believe It also kills the good bacteria in the soil too
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Re: Raised beds

Postby Super A » Wed Jan 28, 2009 6:17 pm

TexCub wrote:Thanks for the input! I think we're going to do as you guys suggest:

1) Dig REALLY deep
2) Add French Drain to low side of garden (this is going to help tremendously)
3) Start treating nematodes now (plan on getting w/Extension agent, as they may have other tips for things I'm not aware of
4) No raised beds--I was tempted by a guy I saw on TV who had them (think he was in Minnesota or somewhere way up there)

Thanks again and I hope to report back in a month or so with a budding garden photo!!!

Dave


Absolutely contact extension about the nematodes. You may have something else. Most states offer a soil nematode test through Cooperative Extension. It may cost a few dollars, but it will almost certainly be cheaper than buying chemicals. THere is no need trying to treat something that is not there.

I agree on the deep tillage. Subsoil the #@*(# out of it.

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Re: Raised beds

Postby knucklebuster » Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:31 pm

Lots of great info in this thread, glad I am not the only one whose top soil was scraped away by a developer!
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Re: Raised beds

Postby rickguns » Tue Feb 03, 2009 12:17 pm

Raised seed beds are great!
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