Monday, October 12, 2015

Raised Beds My Way

Starting new Beds from the ground up!


Simple framing for raised beds. I'm always looking for the cheapest way to do things... that may be obvious here.

Looking to expand my growing space, I've added approximately 200 sq. feet of raised bed space. They aren't raised bed in the traditional sense because I incorporate the existing soil into each bed. However, they are raised. And they are beds. So far, I've framed the beds with basic landscape timbers from Lowes. Hopefully by spring, all the beds will be two timbers high, or about 6 inches deep. I don't know of anyone else who does raised beds the way I do. Not saying my way is better, but that it's just the way I do it. So this blog will be A WAY, not the way, but it works nonetheless. Caution: this is a lot of work!

I started with the bare bones in the picture above and my first step is to then add lots of organic matter. In this case, I added grass clippings and mowed leaves. In my city, residents are encouraged to  pile their fall leaves and yard waste at the curb where a vacuum truck keeps them cleaned up, and subsequently, out of storm drains. Of course, this is a gold mine for composters and gardeners like me! Today, I picked up this load from a neighbor's curb:
As you can see, the leaves/clippings are finely chopped- this is my favorite compost material and favorite raised bed filler.

In the picture above, I had already began emptying my truck. In the coming weeks, this stuff is everywhere as people pile their leaves roadside for city pickup. Needless to say, I can't get enough of it!
The next step for me is piling the material into the beds. It's piled 4-6 inches deep. I transfer the organic material from the truck to the garden with a 40 gallon trash can. You can use a wheelbarrow or whatever you have. After that, it looks like this:
 Organic material piled into beds, ready for smoothing out.
And the final step, for now, is raking out the material so it is evenly spread throughout the new beds:

Now the hard part... waiting. Today is October 10 and I don't intend to do another thing to this bed until probably March... 5 months from now! I will make sure the bed stays damp, but otherwise it's up to the worms, roley poleys, beetles, and all of mother nature's other magic to break this stuff down into earthy good ness to turn into the existing soil come springtime. I'll also make sure the organic matter and ground under it stay damp to keep the break down process moving along.  

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