Raised vegetable bed - add sand?

Discussion in 'Fruit and Vegetable Gardening' started by Juliet, Apr 5, 2005.

  1. Juliet

    Juliet Member

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    I am building my first ever raised vegetable bed. I've just finished reading a book on it that recommended adding equal parts sand and topsooil, in addition to compost and a little bit of peat moss. Do I really want all that sand in there?
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,450
    Likes Received:
    419
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    Depends on how much sand is in the topsoil already, how sandy you want it to be. Don't know that I would add peat to a vegetable area.
     
  3. Newt

    Newt Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,275
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Maryland USA zone 7
    Hi Juliet,

    I agree with Ron and wouldn't add peat moss.
    http://www.ondelmarva.com/peat.html

    If the topsoil you purchase has good texture I would just do 60% topsoil and 40% compost. You could add some sharp sand for drainage if you like.

    Newt
     
  4. Thean

    Thean Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    185
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Howdy Juliet,
    It's hard to disagree with Ron and Newt. But as a renegade who do not till the soil, I have been using raised beds without any addititon besides mulch (and compost every 6 years) since 1968 in two different countries and 8 different locations and getting good results. Raising beds helps to raise soil temperature and avoid soil compaction. I use both plastic and organic mulch depending on the crops. Organic mulch lowers soil temperature but adds much required nutrients and improves soil structure. I practice crop rotation and since one of the crops is potatoes that I have to dig to harvest, I till the soil once in every 6 years. Before I reshape the beds after digging the potato, I do add compost to those beds.
    Peace
    Thean
     
  5. Newt

    Newt Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,275
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Maryland USA zone 7
    Thean, I don't think you are disagreeing with us at all. If I'm reading this correctly, you are talking about maintaining your raised beds and Juliet is talking about creating new ones. Glad to hear that you don't till. I don't believe in tilling as regular maintenance either. Adding compost on a regular basis is the way to go!

    Newt
     
  6. Staycelyne

    Staycelyne Member

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Iowa
    I am in the process of building my first raised vegetable beds, as well. I think I should have maybe read a book prior to purchasing wood. I was unable to get cedar wood like I wanted, and ended up settling for arsenic-free treated wood. Was this a bad decision? I'm not familiar with the wood treatment process and don't know if I should be concerned.
     
  7. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,450
    Likes Received:
    419
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
  8. Staycelyne

    Staycelyne Member

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Iowa
    Well I finally got more information from the store I purchased the wood at! It says the main active ingredient in the AC2 preservative system is copper. Coupled with a quarternary compound co-biocide for enhanced performance against copper tolerant fungi and insects.

    It also says 'approved uses: above ground decking and specialties, above ground general use, and ground contact(or freshwater contact).'

    It does also say not to use preserved wood under circumstances where the preservatives may become a component of food. Is that telling me it's a no-go for reaised vegetable beds?? Assuming this is the case, is there anything I can do to still utilize the beds for vegetables? Add some sort of a sealant?
     
  9. I wouldn't recommend using the treated wood for a food garden at all. The chemicals in the wood are quite toxic, which is what makes it so rot resistant. It basically kills everything that comes in contact with it. You certainly don't want that leeching into your vegetables.
     
  10. silver_creek

    silver_creek Active Member

    Messages:
    484
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Bellingham, WA, usa
    After 12 years of use, our red cedar (thuja plicata) frames for our raised vegetable beds are in need of replacement. After much research, we are down to 2 choices. The first is using some sort of brick or stone; but the cost is very high. On the other hand, cedar is not cheap, and stone would be permanent. We are also considering using the ACQ treated wood, but lining it with bamboo (60 ml) plastic to keep the soil from contacting the treated wood. We would prefer the stone, but it will cost more than four times as much....A decision that is still to be made.
     
  11. Idacer

    Idacer Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Southern Idaho
    An interesting topic that I've given some thought to lately...

    Over the past 3 or 4 years, I've constructed several raised vegetable beds out of mortared 6" x 8" x 16" block on concrete foundations. These beds have been productive way beyond anything I've ever done with traditional gardening methods. From a cost perspective, these block beds are probably not that much more expensive, but they are very, very labor intensive to build. They'll probably out-survive me. The only other issue is appearance -- I wish I could think of some way to make them a little more visually appealing.

    I've always filled the beds with a combination of my own native topsoil (very heavy) and compost in a ratio of about 60% to 40%, respectively. And, my veggies love it. But, by the end of the season, the compaction is horrific (never step in beds, use drip irrigation, still bad, bad, bad). I till and add tons of compost every fall, but it just doesn't seem to be enough. I've thought about adding some sand, but am now thinking more seriously about bark materials (e.g., 1/2" chunk or smaller) and perhaps crushed granite to increase porosity. I use a finely ground bark as mulch on my perennial flower beds around the house, and the soil underneath has definitely gotten a lot mellower in the last few years. And, since our soils are quite alkaline, I believe the bark helps to acidify and push pH back towards neutral.

    Thoughts?

    Bryan
     
  12. Conney

    Conney Member

    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Randolph, NY USA
    We have been growing vegetables in raised beds for 4 years now with good results. We built our beds out of larch that we get at a local Amish sawmill. Rough cut. There is no signs of decay yet and our Amish friends say that we won't see any decay for many years. I have also not tilled (much) but since I add composted horse manure and mulch organically my beds are overflowing.
     

Share This Page