Our new raised beds.

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by Keith Elliott, May 4, 2021.

  1. Keith Elliott

    Keith Elliott Rising Contributor

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    This is to be our first year trying to grow things in our raised beds. Over the past month or so we have built the Taj Mahal of raised beds. Not honestly sure what will be going in there just yet, but whatever the missus decides, that will be it.

    Both of us have reached the stage where it's difficult to bend, so this first raised bed is literally that. It is lifted up right off the ground. And by the way, given that we've never done this before I welcome your suggestions and criticisms so that we may improve in future.

    This small area is on the lowest of three "benches" if you will, and from the south edge the land falls away very rapidly. So the room available is fairly limited.

    Since a picture is supposed to be worth 1,000 words...here goes.

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    That assembly is about 16 feet long and the "fingers" go out for 8 feet or so.

    First thing I did, after drilling a few hundred drain holes, was to add a layer of drain rock throughout. Next came the filter cloth, followed by topsoil.

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  2. Keith Elliott

    Keith Elliott Rising Contributor

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    There is also a small space right at the very top of the lower lot on which we made a ground level raised bed. This one is far more rudimentary and I am told that we will try to grow runner beans, corn and peas. Beyond that I haven't yet been further advised.

    Same basic sort of structure...first laid some of the Scott's heavy duty cloth to keep the weed population down to a dull roar. Then built the sides, followed by drain rock, more filter cloth and topsoil. The upper few inches of soil were amended with some overpriced stuff in bags. It has been so many years that we have built any kind of garden that neither of us seems to remember anything. However, thanks to the magic of Youtube, information is now just a few clicks away. However, we have also discovered that if you ever need conflicting opinions on how to do something, you will surely find it on YT.

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    The first day that we had the bed filled with topsoil, and before that skimpy little framework was built, the deer managed to make a number of passes from one end to the other. It seems they love to investigate anything new that is built. Anyway, we added black plastic netting that same day, and thus far it has kept them out. There is a house over at Celista where the fellow had added some orange flagging to his netting. It apparently lets the deer know that there is something in the way and they shouldn't try to get in there. So we are going to add some brightly coloured wool and see if that helps.
     
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  3. Keith Elliott

    Keith Elliott Rising Contributor

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    In mid April we had a number of very warm days here, 28 to 30ºC. You can imagine how hot it got in the little greenhouse and that spurred an enormous amount of growth with all the seeds that Val had planted. I think we were perhaps a little too enthusiastic in that regard, really not having any idea just how many seedlings we would end up with. Over the past few days it has become necessary to transplant as much as we could out of the seed flats into pots, or outside, due to a total lack of room in the greenhouse. Would anyone like about 100 Kale seedlings?

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    Yesterday Val put most of the runner beans, corn and peas in the ground. Just hope we aren't too early doing that, but the overnight temperature seems to be staying in the 7ºC range or higher. We will learn as we go...I hope!
     
  4. Keith Elliott

    Keith Elliott Rising Contributor

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    Also yesterday, Val started to put some of the seedlings in the elevated bed. I believe these will all be things that don't grow very tall. I will have to check with her to see what they are. The fact is that everything in the greenhouse is growing so fast that we have to take as much out as possible. I think that later today she plans on moving some of the flower seedlings up to the top bed by the driveway. I know she has a few hundred Cosmos seedlings which are looking good. No doubt we are going to have to give lots of them away, just not enough room here.

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  5. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    Good evening Keith, I'm so very IMPRESSED. What a fantastic project.
     
  6. Keith Elliott

    Keith Elliott Rising Contributor

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    Well, that is very kind of you to say so. Thank you. Val is outside already adding more seedlings to that bed.

    We weren't any too updated on companion planting, so we have just downloaded some pages of relevant information and she will tack them up in the greenhouse. Hopefully, we won't make too many little mistakes.

    This is what we are up against in the greenhouse, and the reason why we needed those raised beds right away.

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    Cannot get a photo of everything at one time in there, even though it is only 10' by 15'. I probably should have made it bigger. Where have we all heard that before?
     
  7. Keith Elliott

    Keith Elliott Rising Contributor

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    At one end of the lower raised bed, we are going to attempt to grow a few potatoes in those raised box type things. To that end, I did watch a number of the YT videos, some had good results, others not so much. There was one young lady who got an amazing crop in such a small area, so we are partially copying what she did. One of the more important things was to try and keep the soil quite loose. So, as we add more soil as the seed potatoes grow, we will be adding our compost to that as well.

    Unfortunately, all we have for now is one of those little plastic drum affairs, but it seems to work pretty well. The plants in those pots are some trumpet vines, which a friend of Val's down at the coast gave us last fall. Given that our climates are quite different, we aren't sure what to expect. I think it's strawberries in a couple of those pots as well.

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  8. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    Point very well made Keith. Are the raised beds going to be covered in the Winter?
     
  9. Keith Elliott

    Keith Elliott Rising Contributor

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    Hmmm, now that's a very good question. Haven't even considered that yet. But I suspect that there likely won't be any plants in them over the winter. We do have quite a few large sheets of tempered glass we could use, but I'm really not sure.

    Would there be any advantage to doing that - covering the beds that is? We do have half a load of cedar mulch here, maybe we could use some of that. The mulch is under that blue tarp.

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  10. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    Depends on your Winters tbh Keith, and if you want to bring things on a little faster in Spring. Our friends cover their soils with clear polythene until the very last moment in Spring to keep some warmth in the soil. Their crops really do get a good start compared to others who do not cover their beds.
    But it is not essential to cover and with the wildlife you have there, ie bears, it might get ripped up anyway.
     
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  11. Keith Elliott

    Keith Elliott Rising Contributor

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    Winters here are typically down to the -17ºC range, with infrequent dips a few degrees lower. Snow levels, which is to say the amount actually on the ground at any one time, vary from a foot or so to four feet. Now, when we had that four feet actually on the ground about three years ago, I spoke to two of the locals who grew up here and have been here since the '50's. They both said they had never seen that much snow accumulated on the ground at one time in their lives. So that was an unusual year.

    The more normal accumulation seems to be more like two feet or so, but usually shortly after we get the second or third snowfall it stays for the winter and just slowly builds up. I have photos here showing the driveway where we have cleared the middle out to gain access, and both sides we have a solid snowbank. I realize the piles of snow are way over two feet, because that's where the snowblower throws it. This is about typical for snowfall here.

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    As for the wildlife, the bears here hibernate for the winter, and we don't get any reports of bears being seen until after the snow has gone. I don't think the bears will be any trouble here. Now the deer on the other hand, well, that's a different matter entirely. But, as you know, we did get the netting up yesterday around the garden area that we need to get protected somewhat, so we will be keeping an eye out to see if they breech the new netting.
     
  12. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    Amazing photos Keith, Sussex to this Wow!! I'll stop moaning about being -2° C in Southern England overnight, lol.
    Really interested to hear how the netting gets on in protection against deer ingress. As I said, I've seen them jump really silly heights and I was inches from them. So can bare witness to this.
     
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  13. Keith Elliott

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    Oh, I definitely agree about their athletic abilities. Sometimes, when they are munching away at the greenery and a noisy vehicle comes by, they will leap over to the neighbours' place in nothing flat. And it isn't just their jumping ability, even the very tiny deer can run like the wind. And it doesn't even matter if the ground is flat or level, makes no difference to them. Quite amazing.
     
  14. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    I agree Keith, and from a standing still position in one leap. Then they run like the wind and then motionless, they are survivor's.
    Back to your raised beds, have you considered old windows in their frames to help warm the soil ready for the Spring, as your conditions are quite extreme.? And it is a bit of recycling. A lot of glazing companies give them away after carrying out double glazing replacement.
    All it needs is a stick underneath to prop up as the temperatures pick up. Then complete removal when the heat of the sun arrives for late Spring and Summer. You might get a better yield !!? Just a thought..
     
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  15. Keith Elliott

    Keith Elliott Rising Contributor

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    I think you must be reading my mail!

    We don't need to go anywhere for old windows or tempered glass, here's what we have sitting against one of the sheds. Just yesterday, Val was making noises about getting rid of all this glass, but I keep trying to convince her that it definitely has a use in the garden.

    I do remember, when I was a little whipper, that I used to spend a lot of time helping my maternal grandfather - who I was allowed to refer to as "Pop" - and he had some cold frames in the garden. Most of the glass had cracks in it if I remember rightly, before the days of tempered glass I suppose. But you are definitely right, anything in those cold frames was always well ahead of everything else.

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    There are quite a few sheets of tempered glass in that pile, removed from sliding glass doors when we did the re-building here. And I do believe that we have a few more such sheets here as well, which I was thinking might be ideal on top of the "elevated" beds, as opposed to the ground level raised bed.

    I'm not sure how far down the ground freezes here in winter, but I would imagine that the elevated beds - which would allow the very cold air to penetrate from all sides - would almost certainly freeze right through. Then the other side of the coin is that the warmer spring air could also get everywhere as well, so adding glass on top would make a mini greenhouse effect, would it not?
     
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  16. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    That looks pretty good to me Keith. If you are worried about over heating, then as I said earlier, they can be lifted bit by bit or closed if a frost is reported. One thing our friends do is to whitewash the glass so that you dont get that severe greenhouse effect. But if you make it so that the panels can be easily removed then there will be no problems. Fixing them in place so they can't be easily removed is not a good idea IMO.
    Those panels you have are a good way of recycling in the garden and helping young plants to establish and not adding to landfill sites. So a win win for your plants and the environment

    BTW, I've not been reading your mail, lol.
     
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  17. Keith Elliott

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    Are you sure about that?! Heehee!
     
  18. Keith Elliott

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    Val has agreed to let us keep the big sheets of tempered glass, but she wants the framed windows to go. I think that the big sheets are typically 76" long which come out of the sliding glass doors. We likely have enough to do close to 3/4 of the raised beds in winter.
     
  19. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    So that will very some nice warm soil in the early Spring for your seeds etc Keith. It will give them the good start they might need in your location
     
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  20. Keith Elliott

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    I must say things are doing well in the raised beds. Val is already talking about harvesting a few of the spinach leaves for a salad. First potatoes just breaking ground in the last photo.

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  21. Keith Elliott

    Keith Elliott Rising Contributor

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    And inside the greenhouse, it is still full of new seedlings. At last the tomato plants are looking like tomato plants!

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  24. Keith Elliott

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    Let's just put it this way, I did my first commercial construction in 1969 up in Whitehorse, Yukon. Got my carpenters' ticket in 1976 and successfully remained broke right up until this very day!

    Actually I also took a liking to architecture as a result of a dinner we shared with relatives in Victoria around 1967. I was shown a model of what was supposed to be a low cost housing project by the husband (an architecture student at the university of Victoria at the time). I was so impressed by the table sized model, which for all intents and purposes looked like a high end project, that I started studying architecture right away.

    I suppose my favourite old time architect has to be Frank Lloyd Wright and some of his students, and the newer one would be Santiago Calatrava. They both did some amazing structures, with Santiago having the benefit of modern engineering.

    My house on Ruxton borrowed heavily from FLLW. I was very fortunate to visit his Taliesen West in the late '90's and take the full tour. Wonderful experience!
     
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  25. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    It certainly shows Keith. Your attention to detail will put so many of us amateurs to shame. But what a perfect team you and Val make. Quite rare these days.
     
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