people making fun of my raised beds

coengMay 1, 2012

Last week I finished building and filling my new raised vegetable beds in my new garden. Every one (mostly family) that has come to my house since then has laughed at my boxes. These are old-school gardeners who have for decades planted their veggies directly in the ground.

I never really came to question this, but what advantages do raised beds provide? My primary reason was because of the use of PT wood for my garden fence posts. I'm sure there are many other good reasons. I just need some ammo to quiet the doubters.

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kr222(6b)

Less/easier weeding.
No soil compaction from walking over it.
Better drainage.

Ignore what they say. You have an attractive garden set up there!

Here is a link that might be useful: My garden and raised beds

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 2:24PM
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Trishcuit

Wait until summer, you'll be laughing all the way to the kitchen with your bounty.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 2:40PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

There are many advantages to raised beds, the weeding and better control over the soil are just a couple. But that doesn't necessarily make them better than in ground or vice versa. They are just 2 different approaches and both have their fans and pros and cons.

And there are many advantages to in-ground gardening too. One obvious one from your pics is all the growing space that has to be wasted on all those paths. I'd be curious as to why so many small beds rather than say 2 or 3 big ones in that same space. I'd be real tempted to fill some of that space with containers for growing.

But there is no doubt they are attractive boxes and will serve you well for many years.

What did you fill them with?

Dave

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 2:44PM
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glib(5.5)

Nice, and most important, impervious to rabbits. Groundhogs, also, having been excluded from day one, may not come. That is the real beauty in my eyes. Nothing better than starting your prevention right.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 2:58PM
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buckyz4

I was just going to question what the outside fence was for. I think a rabbit could squeeze right thru it if it was the 2X4 inch welded wire it looks like. I am sure it will keep dogs and deer etc out. You may have to run a smaller wire around the bottom to keep rabbits out.
Bucky

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 3:03PM
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shermthewerm(8 PNW)

Well, I like it! Nice job & good luck with your harvest. I have 2 giant raised beds (well, giant in my smallish yard), a small in-ground area, and a patio filled with potted plants. Like Dave said, they each have their advantages.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 3:35PM
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chaman(z7MD)

Ignore the doubters.They are not the gardeners.All of us who are the gardeners are appreciating your nice work.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 3:59PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Thought of another advantage to yours - no tilling each year. Just fork the soil up a bit and plant. No wrestling the big tiller or the tractor and no gas money spent.

Your arrangement will also be really easy to rig shade cloth over if it needs it and those beds will be perfect for doing late fall season extended gardening in, say with some low tunnels and such.

Dave

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 4:30PM
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coeng

Dave,

Great idea for filling in the space with containers. What do you suggest? Something smallish so I can move them to get to the raised beds to weed/harvest.

The four beds upfront are for tomatoes. The center one is for herbs. The back square one is for lettuce. The one under the trellis is for cukes.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 4:32PM
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soilent_green

I have very little time or patience for people who are sarcastic towards or show little respect for others' efforts, whether they agree or not with what they are doing. It is mean spirited, insulting, and shows a poor attitude and an unwillingness to be supportive or helpful in any way.

The opinions of those people should mean nothing to you. Do what you want to do, have fun, experiment, learn from your mistakes to continually improve, and you will succeed in whatever you do. Then you can shove your wonderful garden produce in their faces as far as I am concerned.

I am an "old school" gardener. I have never done raised beds. I have never met you but I will say that you have done some nice carpentry work there and I wish you nothing but success. And if something doesn't work, change it. That is the beauty of gardening.

Have fun!
-Tom

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 5:24PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

The only ammo you need is a crate of fresh veggies handed over to them. That said I also wonder about the amount of space given over to paths. But you seem to have plenty of land so who cares?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 5:33PM
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keski(6)

These beds are beautiful. You may want to check out square foot gardening and forum. Grow a lot in a small space that you can reach from all sides, paths that you can easily walk , bend ,wheelbarrow through. Check out filling the boxes with Mel's mix for ideal soil composition. The other site is potager gardening. Some folks there have really nice set-ups.
I am green with envy.
Keski

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 6:30PM
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jolj(7b/8a)

I am old school organic gardener & we double dig our beds, then build up from there.
The main reason for raised beds are to get more plants in a smaller, richer bed.
This mean you have less space & more harvest, less weeds & more veggies plants. The close plants choke/shade out weeds & help to hold in water. You should mulch for these reasons also. The on top of the ground beds are new, but raised bed have been used here for over 50 years & in other countries for hundreds of years. Here I have not had anyone laugh, but a few ask me to sale them compost or help them set up a raised bed.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 6:33PM
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another_buffalo(6)

Nice garden there, coeng. My concern with looking at the pic is the grass. I'm not into mowing/weedwacking the pathways, so am using recycled/used carpet for the walkways. The grass can also grow up in your raised beds, so I strongly recommend lining them with cardboard or thick layers of newspaper. Roots of your veggies can grow down through that layer, but few grass and no weed plants can grow upwards through it. Using landscape fabric is also an option - but that would cost more than used carpet. If you think it would look better, go for it, and try some mulch over the fabric for appearance as well.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 7:33PM
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dab07

I'm thinking about the pressure treated wood posts. I think the crops in the raised beds are as likely to absorb chemicals as in-ground plants would be. I don't want to be a bearer of bad news, but if the chemicals are water soluble, roots will bring them up into the plants. I can't say this definitively, but I assume it's true.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 9:02PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Don't worry about it. Pressure treated wood has been arsenic free since its use in the PT process was restricted in 2002 and the current forumlas for PT wood pose minimal if any issues.

Even when arsenic-treated wood was used a 2-4' DMZ and the use of raised beds were the standard recommendations for gardening with it.

Dave

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 9:10PM
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howelbama(7 NJ)

Digdirt,

I agree, plus think about all the crap chemicals that are in/on the commercially farmed produce at the grocery stores. I feel like that is far worse than the small amount of chemicals that may leach out of PT and may or may not be taking up by plants grown near it

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 9:22PM
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dab07

Responding to the OP's statement that s/he created raised beds b/c of the PT posts, I'm just pointing out that whatever would get into the ground would also get into the raised beds. Whether the preservatives in the wood can ultimately lead to toxicity in the crops is another question, one that can only be answered by good research. Maybe it's been done, I don't know.

But whatever preservative is in the wood, chances are if it stops it from rotting, it's not biologically friendly.

Sorry for taking things in this direction, coeng, I didn't mean to hijack your thread. But if anyone's interested, you can read on.

Here's a link I randomly just found:
http://www.gizmag.com/non-leaching-pressure-treated-lumber/22136/

The interesting thing in that article, aside from its saying that PT preservatives "gradually leach into the ground, harming organisms in it", is that the safety of nanoparticles themselves is questionable. At a lecture on nanoparticles at Tufts University, the Chemistry faculty said that they were thrown out into the marketplace before adequate testing was done to establish their safety. There's a lot of profit to be made by selling them, not much incentive for companies to test.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 12:57AM
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gardenlen(s/e qld aust)

if they think your beds are funny they should see mine hey?

our next ones will have high sides made from corrugated roofing

link below:

len

Here is a link that might be useful: lens straw bale garden

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 1:42PM
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calliope(6)

Laugh all the way to the kitchen table this summer as you pull off a tomato ripened in the sun. Your carpentry is a thing of beauty. I had to pull my husband over to show him, thought he'd appreciate it.

I have gardened all my life. In fact for the last quarter century it's how I made my living. We put our first raised beds in on the property a year and a half ago for strawberries because I was tired of fighting rodents and weeds and losing.....since they came on in my busiest season. I am just so thrilled at how the crop looks this year bursting out of their raised bed frames, just loaded with fruit. I wouldn't mind putting in more for the very early crops like lettuce I also get in so late since we don't turn over the big garden until May 1st, weather permitting.

I've had a lot of my gardens laughed at for various reasons. Most of them unconventional techniques I knew would work and yes, you should see people change their tunes when you offer to share some of your bounty.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 5:26PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Their house, their rules. Your house, your rules. And besides, if it makes you happy, that is reason enough to grow in raised beds.

There's a good chance that your garden will be the loviest of the bunch simply because it is small and compact: fewer weeds to pull and less likely to get out of control, and the smaller beds are less intimidating when it's time to pull up an old crop and replant another. Great job!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 5:37PM
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plumberroy(z5 wc ohio)

At fifty I am sometimes accussed of being a curmudgeon. But I do what I want It is my garden ,my work and my money If it makes me happy and doesn't hurt anyone else I don't give a crap what anyone else thinks. I like it You might think about just using the feace as a trellis for cukes I have use raised beds/square foot style gardens when I had limted space with good results. I have family that think I'm nuts I'm going monday to buy a grillo walk behind tractor with a tiller and mower deck over 3 grand The same people would not have ever thought to say something if I would have told them I( was spending that much money one a jetski. Enjoy your garden and post pictures with growing veggies
Roy

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 10:24AM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Looks like a nice setup. I agree that the grass paths may end up being a pain. All my pathways are covered with pine straw.

What's in the bottom of the beds? Looks like fabric.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 11:47AM
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JenTiffany

A big AMEN to Soilent_Green!!! Some people just don't know how to support others and will never recognize that good effort in itself is deserving of praise. It doesn't matter if it's the absolute best setup you could have done or not. Personally, I think it's beautiful and if my husband built me something exactly like it, I would be thrilled! I have my garden in a raised bed. We have hard clay in our soil here so rather than break my back trying to till it up and incorporate other materials, I'll just do it above ground and start with great soil. Mine is made with landscaping brick so it gives me a little something to step/lean on while weeding, etc. Not to mention, it's pretty. I know a lot of old school gardeners don't care too much about making it pretty, but I love going outside and seeing my garden that looks like a lovely landscape. It's producing wonderfully and it's aesthetically pleasing. You've done a great job!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 7:18PM
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Brad Edwards

I am really surprised no one has mentioned this, but your setup is practically ready to be covered in green house plastic "or cheap plastic from lowes every 2 years" for a functional winter greenhouse, assuming you are not planting many winter vegetables in there. Its almost like a cold frame in setup.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 12:59AM
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howelbama(7 NJ)

Ocean, you make a great point. It would be really easy and inexpensive to convert that to a greenhouse/coldframe!

Coeng, my neighbor made fun of me too, asking me if I was building coffins lol... Now that she sees how much I'm growing she keeps asking if she can put in an order for tomatoes and peppers lol...

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 6:43PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

Who wants to help with the raised beds? Asked the Little Red Hen...........
They'll come running when the veges start coming in! Nancy

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 8:57PM
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claydirt(5)

I agree with kr222. Less bending over, you can sit on a little "step stool" and be much closer to the ground. So easier planting and weeding (great if you are retirement age). I have become a little concerned about soil compaction in my garden. As the soil gradually gains organic matter, this year I can see how compressed it is where I walk. Better drainage is true, roots need to breath. But it may tend to dry out fast in the heat of the summer.

coeng, I think it looks great. I can tell you spent a lot of time on it. I wrap chicken wire around bottom of my fence to keep smaller critters out. But nothing stops the squirrels from planting walnut trees in the garden.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 10:07PM
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ralph31558(z8GA)

Coeng, Your raised bed settup looks great, I also have a few raised beds in my garden due to the type of soil i have,i tried to plant directly into the soil but when we have a heavy rain the water just lays near the roots, and they rot.The only thing i found with my raised beds is that i had to till the ground before i set the boxes, or i would have had to use boards with a widder width, espcially for tomatoes which need deep soil for a healthy plant.(just a thought).

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 12:44AM
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booberry85(5)

I'm an "in ground" gardener, mostly because I'm too cheap and lazy to make raised beds. DH probably does NOT want to see what I would do with power tools! LOL!

I do like your set up. It looks very neat and organized.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 12:39PM
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oregonwoodsmoke(5 OR Sunset 1A)

The garden looks really lovely. Just smile sweetly and ignore them.

I use raised beds because weeding is easier on my knees when I don't have to bend over so far.

I suggest that you might mulch really well between the beds to try to control that grass.

I'm a tad bit vindictive, so I wouldn't be offering any free veggies to all the people who are so completely non-supportive. Don't like my garden? Fine, you don't have to eat the veggies from it.

Instead I might smile sweetly and inform them that I'd had to take 40 pounds of zucchini and lettuce and sweet corn to the food bank because I grew more than my family could eat.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 10:09PM
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jolj(7b/8a)

oregonwoodsmoke, I agree.
Tough love, Life lesson & all that.
My children can quote the "Little Red Hen" story.
I made them pull weeds & work the harvest until they were old enough to hang with their friends away from home.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 9:01PM
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oliveoyl3

Your set up is great and shows a lot of work. Nice! Enjoy it!

Be sure to read up about what type of soil to use to fill the boxes. I've heard from other gardeners in my area who were disappointed with results of compost or topsoil purchased in bulk. Check out the SFG forum here on GWeb for information.

I do like the boxes especially for salad & stir fry greens, bush beans or peas, brassicas, alliums, & root crops. We have the rest of the crops in mounded beds with permanent paths along the side of the driveway in our clearing in the woods as that is our best sunshine location. The trees continue to grow and seek out our good soil for their roots, so ideally I wouldn't be gardening with nearby trees.

Raised beds appear neater & well tended even with letting some crops go to seed. It's easy to plant in rows or squares, but you can also plant in curves or diagonals making it decorative as well. Also, where ever there is an empty spot you can plant something for successive cropping.

Easy to:
Harvest
Add compost
poke & plant a seedling
mulch

It's a lot less work in the boxes to grow produce we eat all year long.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 11:05AM
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sandshifter

coeng,
They are just jealous.....I am too.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 9:05PM
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wilbilt(Nor Cal 9a)

Those beds look a lot nicer than the old tires I am using!

I think the naysayers are just jealous.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 9:49AM
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baseball9(5)

I have been doing free-form raised beds in my backyard for the last 4 years. Every year, several of my neighbors (not just one) ask me, "what the heck are you DOING back there?" I try not to say, "the same thing I did last year." For that spot, it is on a north-facing slope that is very damp, it is on limestone that has spring activity. The raised beds warm up faster and keep the roots out of the wetness. The soil is a silty loam that also compacts easily if you walk on it when it is wet, which it always is.

One great thing about your setup is that you have some vertical structures already in place. It might look a little funny before anything is growing on them but it works so much better to have it there before the plants start growing.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 12:33PM
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Richard (chuggerguy)

Personally I like them and would love to have them sitting in my back yard. That said, you'll never win over "old-school gardeners who have for decades planted their veggies directly in the ground" by listing advantages of your method (over theirs?) because it will put them on the defensive. Besides, their method, at least for them, is equally valid. I'd perhaps just tell them how although I like their gardens, I just wanted to add a personal touch to my own. I might even ask their advice on some "other" aspect of gardening, gaining free valuable advice and stoking their egos at the same time. Then they'll tell you how nice they look, maybe even build their own. Then you can "advise" them. :)

Just my opinion though.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 1:47PM
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PRO
Steven Laurin & Company

Nice work, but to be critical (it's my nature, so excuse me :), the beds are a bit small if your goal is to produce vegetables. But, as an entry level gardening pastime and for pure enjoyment and growing gratification, it's an excellent first attempt. I can tell, like me, you are regimented in what you do. Still, I do think that it is a bit small; considering your efforts, making it twice the size whould not be twice the work, or expense.

Now, fill those planters, plant some seeds + transplants and show us the results of your labor of love.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 7:18PM
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m_lorne(5b)

It is very attractive, and I'm sure it will be effective, but it strikes me as "Home Depot" gardening. I personally like to see people make more use of recycled materials.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 10:43AM
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magenta85

Here's the ultimate fodder coeng. I pinned this to my pinterest board yesterday because I thought it was such a nice looking, practical setup, and over 100 people have repinned my pin to their own boards (in case you're not familiar with pinterest, that means over 100 people like it so much they might copy your idea one day).

Look at all these fans:

Here is a link that might be useful: Pinterest pin

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 11:48AM
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