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High Yield Gardening: Beginning my rasied bed this weekend - quick question

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pennefeather
McLean, VA
(Zone 6b)

March 24, 2011
5:08 PM

Post #8448099

I'm very excited about the raised bed that I am going to start this weekend. I was fortunate enough to find a 4 X 8 cedar kit at Home Depot this past weekend. It was the last one, and well battered, but worth it.

I have a ton of seeds to plant, and all of my soil and amendments, but I have one question that I can't find the answer to - what should I do with the grass that is currently in this area. I am wondering if I should kill it with an organic herbicide, just layer newspaper over it or not do anything. (I have been saving my newspapers the last few weeks.) This is going to be a vegetable garden, and I want to begin planting my lettuces and greens this weekend. I am leary of using a herbicide, but I don't want to have grass invade this new bed. The shallow part is going to be 6", with a deeper section that is 10".

I already have plans to purchase two more, if I can find them, since I would like to have one bed for blueberry plants, and a small one dedicated to asparagus. I may need yet another for the strawberries that I would like to grow also.

The main bed that I will be working on this weekend will have about a dozen different vegetables. Even as I write this, I am seriously leaning towards smothering the grass with a lot of newspaper since I don't have cardboard. In reading most of the post, I haven't come across anyone mentioning how they handled the existing plants or grass when positioning their new raised beds.

The new bed is going to be a split of compost, leaf hummus, and garden soil. I dislike the idea of using peat moss although I know that Batholomew promotes this in his SFG book. I also didn't like his idea of a weedcloth since I wont be digging it up later - unless it is biodegradable - that would work.
kathy4836
Indiana, PA
(Zone 5a)

March 24, 2011
6:09 PM

Post #8448228

Hi pennefeather!

I lucked out last fall and got a $100 4x4 two-tiered raised bed for $20.00! I love end-of-season sales!

I work in the archives of a courthouse, and I'm saving the lightweight cardboard file folders and layering them on the ground before I add the dirt. They'll only be thrown out anyway or shredded for the cows for the Amish. I might as well use them in my garden. The newspapers you have are good too, from what I've read here on DG. Some people seem to remove all the sod, others just layer the newspapers over the grass. We're putting our raised beds in a garden that had been previously dug, so no grass, but I'll be putting a raised bed in another place where there IS grass. I'll be interested in the responses you get from seasoned gardeners here!

Kathy

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 25, 2011
7:14 AM

Post #8449075

pennefeather - if you have the type of grass that grows via underground runners, such as Burmuda, you will have to remove it by hand or it will grow through your beds - even if you put down many, many layers of newspapers and/or cardboard - been there, done that!

DO NOT put a herbicide where you plan to grow vegetables as they will eventually put their roots down into the soil below your beds. Once they hit the herbicide, they will, of course, die!

I tried weedcloth the first year I started here in NC - the Burmuda grass grew right through it! Some vegetables have really deep roots, and I think weedcloth inhibits their growth.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

March 25, 2011
8:07 AM

Post #8449169

Go with a layer of cardboard if you don't have underground grass runners. Do punch holes though the cardboard for drainage, and to help the wormies get through to do their thing in your raised bed(s).

Or, you can put a thick layer (about 8-10 sheets) of moistened newspaper down instead of the cardboard (which will take longer to break down, but will provide a better barrier). Punch a couple holes in the newspaper as well.
texasrockgarden
Canyon Lake, TX
(Zone 8b)

March 25, 2011
9:09 AM

Post #8449320

It would be my opinion that by leaving any grass under 6-10" of soil you are setting yourself up for disappointment down the road. You may want to till the are real good and let it stand for a couple days. Bermuda grass and nut grass can be real boogers to get rid of especially if your soil is a clay base and readily packs.

Has anyone ever used woven polypropylene sacks as a lay down layer for raised beds? I'm talking about the large bags for pet and animal feed? I'm considering using them for my next raised bed project.
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 25, 2011
10:15 AM

Post #8449412

I tilled the soil and removed the St. Augustine grass + laid down newspapers for the raised beds I built last fall. I've had very few weeds to contend with. I would not pile soil on top of the grass either, as texasrockgarden mentioned. I would definitely try and remove as much grass as possible and then smother the area with your favorite biodegradable materials. The "runners" that HoneyBee mentioned are particularly a nuissance.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

March 25, 2011
11:54 AM

Post #8449594

Only because the two raised beds I constructed on top of a carpet of St. Augustine grass covered with thick sheets of moistened cardboard (from furniture moving boxes) never had an incidence of breakthrough grass in my veggie beds...

I'd do it again with thick cardboard...
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 25, 2011
12:21 PM

Post #8449660

If it's quick n' easy as well as effective, then that is the way to go. Tilling gulfcoast clay in September (read: one of the "cooler" months) was quite a workout. Looking back, I would have tilled one area and then tried the heavy cardboard method for comparison.

In fact, I am planning to build a raised bed this weekend, hopefully. It will be long and narrow, along the fence line. It just dawned on me that I need to do something about the grass (my mind has been focused more on what to use as a barrier between the fence and the dirt.)

Since I have loads of cardboard boxes in my garage, I will try this method Linda.
pennefeather
McLean, VA
(Zone 6b)

March 25, 2011
4:03 PM

Post #8450032

Wow, lots of info! Fortunately, we don't have bermuda grass or runners to worry about. I think that I will just go with the newspapers since it will take a while for the vegetable roots to make it into the grass if ever. Most of the veggies that I'm starting soon are the cool weather greens which have fairly shallow roots (we're supposed to have snow this weekend). I already decided to try a grow bag for carrots since I wanted to make sure that the roots had plenty of room, and they get to grow nice and straight. I'll problably just tear some of the grass up when I plant the asparagus and blueberries so that I don't have to worry about anything happening.

Kathy, I'm jealous of your deal on the raised bed. What a steal. I just decided in the last two weeks that this was the way to go. I'm just glad that I decided to do this before July!
yehudith
silver spring, MD
(Zone 7a)

March 28, 2011
8:00 AM

Post #8455605

penfeather

I'm here in Silver Spring around the corner. Hi! Kids were real disappointed at the amount of snow we got yesterday. They didn't even get to see it.

I'd use cardboard. I've used newspaper and have never been happy with the results, but have great results with cardboard. Also, there's something in the cardboard that attracts worms. They just eat it up. The only thing I've had come through a good thick layer of cardboard is this rampant wisteria that is just taking over the neighbourhood. Our neighbour's backyard looks like a wisteria nursery and he doesn't have a wisteria. I think the previous owner's of our house were the culprits. I

I lay the cardboard out to cover the whole garden area and lay my beds out on that and then heavily mulch the aisles so there's a thick layer of cardboard under everything so I don't have any grass or weed problems at all. Just a thought.
mraider3
Helena, MT

March 29, 2011
1:18 AM

Post #8457622

Don't forget the paths around your raised beds either. Although I dug down my raised beds I didn't do a good job on the paths around and between the beds. I have constantly fought grass weeds in the paths as well as the sides of the raised beds. These grass runners can extend several feet into your raised beds within a season or two.
cornish2175
Charleston, SC
(Zone 8b)

March 29, 2011
4:22 AM

Post #8457716

Good deal on that raised bed- they just showed up this spring in my HD. My beds had to go in front- only spot I got full sun. DH built me the 4 beds out of cedar boards &angle irons. Have been in 3 years and still look good. I only have to remember not to brace my foot on it.
I have always used newspaper- mainly cause I get it daily plus I never seem to have to kill grass in small areas. I do not like to store great amounts of cardboard- it seems to draw roaches( I get those big palmettos) anyway, I'll lay down newspaper thickly in manageable sections- I do not worry about hole punching- the layers of sheets take care of that- then wet it down with the hose. I do it in sections as I alway pick a windy day. Check for gaps then pile on the mulch or dirt- your raised bed should be good to go. Don't forget your pathways- if you like grass between leave enough room for mower. Hope this helps. Susan
cornish2175
Charleston, SC
(Zone 8b)

March 29, 2011
4:29 AM

Post #8457718

Forgot my picture

Thumbnail by cornish2175
Click the image for an enlarged view.

tommyr2006
Poughkeepsie, NY

March 29, 2011
1:40 PM

Post #8458758

VERY nice Susan! I'm doing a 3x8 in a week or 2. 10 inches deep.
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 29, 2011
7:29 PM

Post #8459419

I agree- excellent garden cornish.

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

March 29, 2011
8:04 PM

Post #8459496

I like to dig the walkways as deep as I have time and energy for, and make sure they slope away from the beds..

Then I'm sure the RBs have good drainage. And I stoop less when I work on the beds.

Corey
cornish2175
Charleston, SC
(Zone 8b)

March 30, 2011
3:31 AM

Post #8459802

Thanks for the compliment Tommy & John, on my RB. We now live in a sub-division here in Charleston with a lot of trees. While the shade is great, it limited me to the area beside the driveway. When we replaced our fences we extended it to the sidewalk, it hid our boat from neighbor ( really his unkept yard but good excuse at the time). After the boat left I wanted to plant there but the soil was in bad shape so we went to the raised beds. Being in the front we needed it to look good so DH built these. Wish we had moved them closer to drive by a foot- its a little tight to grow up the fence but I put peas in till the heat gets them, then vining flowers. For the trellis I took apart extendable tomato cages from gardeners supply & u-nailed them to the fence. They're a little rusty but unless you're close can't see it. I'm always finding neightbors looking to see what's growing:-) It's nowhere as big as past gardens when kids were home but we eat fresh from march to november. Susan
P.S. for you yankees who don't know what a palmetto bug is- take your roaches and X by 20. We do not get them because we are dirty, we just get them. John will second that- we lived in Texas City for 4 years. DH is from there

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 30, 2011
6:32 AM

Post #8460056

cornish2175 - I know what you mean about Palmetto bugs - we lived in South Florida for over 30 years before moving here to NC.

Your garden looks delightful. I have several raised beds, but none of them look as neat as yours.

P.S. Do you think we should tell those who haven't experienced Palmetto bugs up close and personal that they can fly?

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

March 30, 2011
6:46 AM

Post #8460081

Palmetto roaches are one of the official Louisiana pets, after pelicans, alligators, nutria rats, and mosquitoes.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 30, 2011
7:01 AM

Post #8460102

EEEEEWWWW!

Okay, of all of them, I'll take the pelican! You can pet the rest LOL

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

March 30, 2011
9:01 AM

Post #8460328

Oops, I forgot our #1 State pet: CRAWFISH!

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 30, 2011
10:43 AM

Post #8460479

Is this a crawfish?

Thumbnail by HoneybeeNC
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

March 30, 2011
11:39 AM

Post #8460569

Yep. Sure looks like a crawdad! Only, why is he blue? Must be the famously elusive "Blue Norther?" tee hee hee!
mraider3
Helena, MT

March 31, 2011
2:57 AM

Post #8461975

Honeybee, that could also be a small blue lobster which are sold by a number of aquarium shops. Occasionally you can find a small percentage of blue crayfish in the wild. I will tell you a secret though since I have collected these as well as native fish. Crayfish are normally a greenish color and if you collect one and put it in an aquarium at a young age you can change the color to blue by leaving out chlorophyll from its diet. I feed mine red wigglers and over a period of several molts they eventually turn blue. Anywhere from a pale blue to a cobalt blue, but you need to start with very small crayfish which can be collected in early spring. I like the ones which are less than an inch in size. My favorite collecting sites where Missouri and Arkansas. They have some of the meanest crayfish I have ever collected.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

April 1, 2011
10:23 AM

Post #8464975

Ooops - didn't mean to mislead anyone. I photographed this little beauty at the Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding California, when daughter and I were on vacation last August, but couldn't remember what it was. I seem to remember the temperature reached 116F that day!

http://www.turtlebay.org/

I think mraider is correct when he says it's probably a small blue lobster.

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