Raised beds vs. lasagna gardening?

lavender_lass(4b)May 21, 2010

My mom wants to take back an overgrown area along the back of her property. The grass is field grass and gets 5' tall and then falls over. She'd like to put in raised beds or some other no-dig option, since the sewer line is under this area (and we're not sure how far down it is). She wants to grow squash, melons, pumpkins, maybe some potatoes with hay on top.

Would actual built up raised beds be the best choice or would lasagna gardening be better? Or is there another option? (I would prefer something low-dollar, since she's retired.)

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Raised bed gardening is a form of gardening in which the soil is formed in 3Â4 foot (1.0Â1.2 m) wide beds, which can be of any length or shape. The soil is raised above the surrounding soil (6 inches to waist high), sometimes enclosed by a frame generally made of wood, rock, or concrete blocks, and enriched with compost. The vegetable plants are spaced in geometric patterns, much closer together than conventional row gardening. The spacing is such that when the vegetables are fully grown, their leaves just barely touch each other, creating a microclimate in which moisture is conserved and weed growth suppressed. Raised beds produce a variety of benefits: they extend the planting season; they reduce the need to use poor native soil; and they can reduce weeds if designed properly. Since the gardener does not walk on the raised beds, the soil is not compacted and the roots have an easier time growing. The close plant spacing and the use of compost generally result in higher yields with raised beds in comparison to conventional row gardening. Waist high raised beds enable the old and sick to grow vegetables without having to bend over to tend them

Lasagna gardening is a time-saving way of creating an organic garden without any digging, tilling or sod removal. It is called lasagna gardening because a layering method is used. Layering builds soil rich in nutrients that greatly increases the garden's productivity

So for you IMO build the beds and fill them with lasagna instead of compost and soil!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2010 at 7:06PM
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organicislandfarmer wrote,
"Waist high raised beds enable the old and sick to grow vegetables without having to bend over to tend them "

HEY.... I resemble that remark ;-)

    Bookmark   May 21, 2010 at 7:26PM
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charleney(8a PNW)

yeah what organicisland farmer wrote is good!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2010 at 9:22PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

I HAVE to do raised beds lined with wire because of gophers.
What Island is talking about seems to be more of a square foot gardening type of thing.
If you don't have gophers, I would do the lasagne layering type thing.

Good Luck! NT

    Bookmark   May 21, 2010 at 9:40PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

It seems to me that you could combine the two techniques. I would scalp the grass and weeds. Then frame up the beds (if you choose to use frames). Then cover the area with a ten sheet thickness of newspaper for smothering out the weeds and grass, covered with layers of grass clippings, chopped leaves, kitchen scraps, etc so that the frame is completely full and maybe even heaped up somewhat. Be sure to overlap the papers so that no light whatsoever can get in. Run it up the sides of the bed too. As the layers break down, the level of the "soil" will lower naturally.

If time is not so important, you/she could work on this process gradually all summer long, adding organic material as it becomes available. It's possible that, come fall, she could plant a winter garden in it, followed by a spring and summer one next year. If there's the slightest chance of moles, gophers, etc. cover the ground with wire before you lay down the newspaper.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 12:44PM
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gardenlen(s/e qld aust)

same thing lavender lass,

those 2 and sheet mulching as well in the end all growing medium on top of the original soil. and the way to go.

see our bale garden presentation for one we have another using metal roof material as sides.


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

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 2:24PM
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Thank you for the responses. My mom is on a fairly limited income, but she has lots of available time, so I think the lasagna method is the way to go :)

While I'd love to see her have raised beds, can you mound up lasagna beds? Or maybe a lower wood frame or some other inexpensive ideas? The area is on a slight slope, so maybe just mounding would be better? Thanks again for your ideas!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 3:08PM
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"So for you IMO build the beds and fill them with lasagna instead of compost and soil!"

I agree.

If you got with raised beds -- and if she is elderly I recommend it -- be sure your paths are at least 36" wide and the beds no more than 3' deep. Then the garden should be accessible even if she finds herself in a wheelchair, although you'd probably want to pave between paths then.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 7:02PM
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gardenlen(s/e qld aust)

you can only effectively mound to a certain height and lots could determine that height i'd be thinking if you could get to around 12"s that would be getting to the top end of it, still a fair bit of stooping involved at under 20"s heigh. sooner maybe than later the decision needs to be made as we get older about making them at least 2' high or so. this then brings in added initial costs of edging and medium to fill it.

and the higher we go walk space needs to go from say 1/2 a meter to a meter or thereabouts.

what makes good edging though may not be pretty enough for some is roofing sheeting ie.,. corrugated type in plain zincallum colour, over here they make free standing surround in one piece for those gardeners, not cheap but effective. for me i'd be buying the cheapest way just buy some roof sheets and galvanised star pickets and go from there, filling with medium still becomes the expense.


Here is a link that might be useful: lens garden page

    Bookmark   May 23, 2010 at 2:40PM
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