EB crossed with Raised bed

Wilson, WI

Hi everyone... I just found this forum and I'm so excited!

This is the first year that I've been in my new home in rural western Wisconsin (Zone 4b-4a-ish). I couldn't plan a garden this past summer because there was just too much to do around here. I managed to get some pepper plants in some pots and they did OK, but next year.... !!!

I have space to do whatever I want. (I moved from the suburbs, so having space is still a novelty for me) I have some physical limitations that make raised bed gardening much more desirable than regular gardening. I'm trying to find recycled materials that I can use to make my raised beds, because it just would be nice, and cheaper to do that. We have an auction house practically next door that auctions off all KINDS of stuff. I'm looking at lots of 5 or 6 unfinished, wooden doors that I could sink into the ground on edge; or landscaping block; or galvanized feed tubs, or old posts... but I digress...

Here is the system that I'm planning on using. . .http://www.wikihow.com/Build-a-Self%E2%80%90Feeding-Self%E2%80%90Watering-Garden-Bed

It's a cross between an EB and a raised bed.

I have questions:

1) What type of soil should I use? I was just going to have some garden soil trucked in from a local nursery to fill up my beds once they're built. I have access to lots of cow manure (fresh!!). Do I need vermiculite or something to add air to the soil? I don't want to have to work the soil with a tiller, because it's difficult to get it into the beds, not to mention that I probably can't handle one with my physical limitations. How do I keep the soil loose?

2) The system recommends using volcanic rock as a wicking material... any other recommendations?

3) Any other ways you can think of to keep the cost down? It's still looking to be quite expensive for a 4'x8' bed, and I want at least 4 of them.

4) has anyone grown potatoes in a system like this?

5) PVC has gotten very expensive. Can you recommend any alternatives?

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

What is it about that system that so appeals to you, besides the fact that it is a more accessible raised bed?

I came from an eBucket environment, and know the ins and outs of how it works as far as providing a built-in reservoir for the plants in the buckets. That being said, I too, moved to a property where I could pretty much do as I pleased, and I have built myself two (2) 4x8' raised beds (RBs), one 3x10'RB, and one 18"x15' RB. I have three more to build...

I believe there's going to be a very big expense for your to put reservoirs beneath all the beds you would like to build. A drip irrigation system would be a WHOLE lot less expensive, and give you the same veggies/plants you'd get otherwise, just without spending a boatload of $$$...

Just my opinion...


P.S. You could get old fence pickets and build raised beds for practically FREE...

Go on the web and look at Ana White's $10 raised beds made out of cedar fence pickets. I started off building with pressure treated lumber I purchased from Home Depot, but that ended when I realized I could get lumber for FREE if I just scouted around, and was willing to piece it together to make my boxes. I built my first RBs in 2012, and they show no signs of decay...

This fall, I'm hoping to install a pvc drip irrigation system on automatic timers. Check out ldsprepper channel for the Mittleider Garden Method. He does excellent tutorials...









Just a thought...

I built the T-Frame over my 3x10' bed, and have the greenhouse plastic to cover it and turn it into an in-the-bed greenhouse....

Hope this helps...

Wilson, WI

Thanks for the quick reply, Linda!

I guess that I find this system so appealing because it looks like regular raised bed gardening, but has the secret of the reservoirs. One of the biggest expenses that we have on our property is water. Our well is very very deep, and that well pump pulls a lot of electricity to get us our water. That is the reason that I really want the reservoirs, so I don't waste any water. I know that once I fill those reservoirs, the water will sit there and wait until the plants need it, wasting no water. Keeping the well pump running, by constantly having the hoses on, will pull a lot of electricity. Lining the reservoirs with black plastic doesn't seem like it will be that expensive. Pond liner would be better, but I'm going for the cheapest model I can get away with. We have a tractor with which to dig the reservoirs, so I don't think it will be nearly as bad as if we had to shovel all of that out by hand!

That being said, drip irrigation is also and option that I've been looking at. I have two drip irrigation hoses that I could use for one bed. What you said about the used pickets from fences, fits right into my ideas about our local auction house. They have your average auction of household goods every month or so, but the REAL deals can be found on old stuff that came off of family farms, or overstocks of building materials and strange stuff like that. It's a place that can get very addictive! ;)

It's the materials for the actual raised bed that get really pricy! That's why I'm looking at the auction house for materials that I can repurpose. Three, unfinished wood doors, could easily make one bed... I think I could win the auction for 5 doors, for under $30. I'll have to wait and see. The good news is that there is new stuff up for auction every week, so I'll just keep watching all winter long.

Wilson, WI

BTW... Thanks for the links, and directing me to Ana White's site.... I can't wait to dive in a read. ;)

Westbrook, CT(Zone 6a)

I hope you meant what you said about an 8x4 ft bed. Converting the dimensions in the instructions from mm, I got 8.85 ft x 5.41 ft. Anything over 4 ft wide makes it hard to reach into the center.

The instructions say to put the sides in the soil first. Wouldn't it be easier to dig out the entire space (a little wider than 4x8ft) first, then lay the bottom, then put in the sides, etc? This would be simple with your tractor.

This sounds like a rather complicated reservoir system. Your plants use the same amount of water whether they have a reservoir or not, so the only water you save is the amount that would evaporate if you used a hose. The main advantage of the reservoir is that you save yourself time in not having to water as often.

Good luck with this ambitious project!

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