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-   -   Filling raised beds (http://www.wildlifegardeners.org/forum/vegetables-other-than-tomatoes/6237-filling-raised-beds.html)

Equilibrium 06-07-2010 08:23 AM

Filling raised beds
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At the end of this week I'll have some raised beds to start filling for next year. I'm going the lasagna route. Some friends of mine do this and they've got a good thing going. Here's a photo of their whopper of a raised bed. I'm going to start by solarizing the grass then when it's fried I flip it over so the roots are up. Then I figured I'd layer on some cardboard then wet it good. After that.... I dunno. I've got loads of good horse poop that's partially composted with wood chips in it, loads of weeds with no seed heads on them, bags of coffee grounds, some left over sphagnum from starting seeds, wood chips, ash from our fireplaces, and tons of grass clippings with clover in them. I could easily get my hands on chicken poop and I could buy some mushroom compost if I had to but I'd rather not spend the money buying compost. Any order I should be piling on the layers? Any thing else I should add?

BooBooBearBecky 06-12-2010 03:19 AM

I have created several garden beds using the lasagna layering method.

I used weeds, cardboard, twigs, shredded leaves, whole leaves, dirt, newspaper, shredded paper, grass clippings, potting soil from spent plants, kitchen waste, coffee grounds...basically anything that I would toss into my compost pile.

You're basically creating a compost pile in place. I just roughly followed the green/brown layering method.

I didn't even bother turning over the turf grass. Just started with shredded paper and cardboard on the bottom layer to block the growth underneath. Added twigs and chunky stuff next to provide some drainage, dirt, then some newspaper. Tossed weeds on top of the newspaper let them die and rot. Tossed on some leaves, more weeds, added the rest, and by the fall I had a really nice bed. I did my perennial fall plantings in the bed. Worked great.

Make sure you water well between each layer.

You can make your lasagna bed all in one day, but I've found what works best for me is to create it over an entire summer. It settles down alot, just like a normal compost pile.

Porterbrook 06-12-2010 05:25 AM

I make raised beds in a similar fashion; however, I dig down at least one foot into the soil to loosen it and amend it with shredded leaves and compost. I build up the bed another 12 to 18 inches. This creates nearly two feet of good garden loam for the plants' root system to develop deeply, insuring that they receive sufficient nutrients and are protected from drying out. At the end of each season, I add another layer of composted material. The beds are ready to plant early in the spring.

hazelnut 06-12-2010 07:23 AM


The point of using cardboard is to maintain the structure of the soil and preserve microbes.
There are other advantages also to maintaining soil structure. There is an over view in the articles referenced in this thread.


Here is wikipedia on no till--a method of farming based on the observations of Masanabu Fukuoka.


The cardboard method
Some farmers who prefer to pursue a chemical-free management practice often rely on the use of normal, non-dyed corrugated cardboard for use on seed-beds and vegetable areas. Used correctly, cardboard placed on a specific area can A) keep important fungal hyphae and microorganisms in the soil intact B) prevent recurring weeds from popping up C) increase residual nitrogen and plant nutrients by top-composting plant residues and D) create valuable topsoil that is well suited for next years seeds or transplants. The plant residues (left over plant matter originating from cover crops, grass clippings, original plant life etc.) will rot while underneath the cardboard so long as it remains sufficiently moist. This rotting attracts worms and other beneficial microorganisms to the site of decomposition, and over a series of a few seasons (usually Spring-->Fall or Fall-->Spring) and up to a few years, will create a layer of rich topsoil. Plants can then be direct seeded into the soil come spring, or holes can be cut into the cardboard to allow for transplantation. Using this method in conjunction with other sustainable practices such as composting/vermicompost, cover crops and rotations are often considered beneficial to both land and those who take from it.

Equilibrium 06-13-2010 10:54 PM

You know.... that's a good idea to run with green then brown then green then brown. I'll do that. It'll keep it easy on my brain and coffee grounds are a green and I've got bags of those. I knew there was a list that separated greens and browns, http://www.wildlifegardeners.org/for...owns-misc.html.

CincyGarden 06-14-2010 08:19 PM

That's not a raised bed, that's a raised yard.

Yea, I'm jealous. =-)

Equilibrium 06-14-2010 09:10 PM

4B> I started with cardboard. Added 5" of wood chips. Added an inch of coffee grounds. Next I'll add some partially composted manure and shavings. I've got some hand pulled weeds with no seedheads laying out in the sun that I'll add after that. Then some of my own compost and then maybe some more manure and shavings. This fall I'll add leaves and some grass clippings.

CincyGarden> I'll have to get you some more photos of their "raised yard". They did something really interesting. Notice how there's no depressions in the soil and everything's flat? They placed their tomatoes and peppers in nice neat rows then they used a hoe and they created their "raised rows" raising the soil up to around 6-7" around their plants. I've been planting my tomatoes and peppers down into the ground about 6". They plopped them down and brought the soil up to the second set of leaves on their seedlings. We're talking a no-till and a no-dig garden. I was really impressed.

CincyGarden 06-14-2010 09:38 PM

Yep, still jealous of "they".

If you add more photos, send some hair so I can make a voodoo doll.

Equilibrium 06-14-2010 09:53 PM

I am going to print this for them since I know they're going to beam with pride reading your comments.... I may have to explain what a voodoo doll is but that's ok. Get this.... they've got vegetable seeds they brought with them to the US back when they first came over here. I wish you could taste some of their beans. You'd be knocked out of your socks. They gave me 20 of their black beans. They made me promise to always save the seed from the best plant. Another thing they did that blew me away was a graft. I've never seen a graft like what they did but.... it worked. They've got the wrong root stock technically speaking but I didn't say anything. I want to see how his grafts turn out for the long haul. Whatever works. This is going to get interesting. I've got to get you some photos of some other friends of mine who do grapes. Their plants are from Italy where they came from. Their grape vine support is a hoot. It's an old clothes line they modified to support grapes. That's another couple that blew me away when I saw how they were starting new grape plants. I kid you not, they took some cuttings last fall then stuck them in the ground with no rooting hormone or anything. We're talking they stuck them in the ground and 2 out of 4 rooted. I took photos of that. I'm done screwing with rooting hormones and grape vines. Mine all bit the dust. Next year I'm poking them in the ground in fall and calling it a day.

biigblueyes 06-20-2010 02:04 PM


Originally Posted by CincyGarden (Post 69240)
Yep, still jealous of "they".
If you add more photos, send some hair so I can make a voodoo doll.

um, I mean - yes, I am also a little jealous of those nice raised beds.

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