Filed under: Community Gardens | Tags: food, nature, plants, raised beds, soil compaction, soil erosion, traditional beds
We finally got around to planting a small fall garden last month, and tomorrow I plan to harvest the first bok choy from it, with kale and lettuces hopefully by the weekend. Take a look:
A second raised bed, with brick sides, is filled with cabbages and broccoli, but I’m not sure if they were planted in time to produce full heads before freezing weather. So I’ll put a hoop house over them soon, where they’ll continue to slowly grow until very cold weather settles in. (The stakes shown on the wagon were soaked in the bucket of wood preservative and are drying there.. they’ll be used to stabilize the new bed.)
After gardening both with and without raised beds, I definitely prefer ‘raisin’ the bar’. Here’s the pros:
1. No soil compaction: if you’re walking around on top of your raised beds, well, you’re an idiot.
2. No soil erosion: The soil stays within it’s boundaries and doesn’t get scattered into the paths or other areas
3. Easier on the back -’nuff said
4. Less Labor: Raised beds require more initial labor than traditional beds but less labor once established. Constructing the bed takes time, but once the bed is constructed and filled with soil, it only requires minimal maintenance.
There are some disadvantages too, such as being more costly to install rather than planting directly into the soil, needing more frequent watering (due to better drainage), and densely planted beds can be more prone to fungal problems. Nematodes and disease organisms may also buildup in the soil, although you can diminish these issues by growing different plants in the bed each year, which is wise to do in traditional gardens as well. And obviously, tilling is out of the question, unless you have a small hand held tiller. We donated our big Troybilt Pony tiller to the community garden a couple of years ago where almost all the beds are traditional, and only do light tilling now, with our Mantis, when absolutely necessary. The earthworms and frogs are spared because of the no till methods, and the soil structure maintains its integrity better as well. All in all though, we’re raised bed advocates.
Recommended by Organic Gardening Magazine
1. Slowly melt 1 ounce of paraffin or bees wax over low heat in a double boiler (do not heat over a direct flame).
2. Outdoors, carefully pour just under a gallon of solvent (mineral spirits, paint thinner, or turpentine, at room temperature) into a bucket; then slowly pour in the melted paraffin, stirring vigorously.
3. Add 1½ cups boiled linseed oil to the mix, stirring until the ingredients are blended.
4. When the mixture cools, either dip your lumber into it or brush it onto the wood, making sure that you thoroughly coat all surfaces, especially the cut ends. Dipping the boards for 5 to 15 minutes allows the repellent to soak more deeply into the wood.
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