So I want to start a vegetable garden in my new backyard. However, I live in an old neighborhood in Portland, Oregon, and lead in the soil is a concern. Unfortunately, I cannot afford a soil test. Thus, I'm hoping to build one or two small raised beds soon so I can start with some garlic. My question, then, is should I build the beds with a bottom, like cardboard or landscape fabric? Would that mess up the drainage? Or, should I just build them without bottoms? Do I need to till the soil beneath where I'm building the beds (to improve drainage/not impair plant growth)? And how deep should the beds be? Again, my main goal here is to avoid any potential lead contamination.
Also, what is the best way to fill the beds? We have a large nursery nearby, but am I looking for something other than bags of potting soil? Lastly, how much might it cost for, say, a 3' by 3' bed?
And I suppose, while I'm here, I might as well ask what other things might I be able to plant this fall/winter? (Zone 8A) I have spots with full sun, partial sun, and full shade in my yard.
Thanks so much!
If you planning on spending $ on building a raised bed anyway, I would strongly suggest paying for a soil test first(and some counties have free soil testings, have you checked with your local extension office?)
IF there is lead, I'm sure it would leach into the raised bed soil, I would do container planting instead
I lay cardboard down under where I built the beds first to kill the grass and stop weeds. No need to do anything other than that. Make the bed 10-12" deep. A 3x3 foot bed is 9 square feet. I used miracle grow POTTING MIX (not soil!), perlite and some bagged cow manure (moo dirt it is called). I add compost that I make as often as I can. That's all there is to it.
In Portland? Home to ice fogs? You plan on covering the plants? I remember howling winds streaking thru The Dalles, pushing me. Do you want veggies? Flowers? If veggies add a lot of compost, but I wouldn't plant anything but greens- turnip, mustard, beets, onions, garlic, peas-snow or English peas. Cabbages like the cool weather too.