Raised Vegetable garden beds

Discussion in 'Fruit and Vegetable Gardening' started by Mr. Biggs, Nov 13, 2002.

  1. Mr. Biggs

    Mr. Biggs Member

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    My aunt has back pains and she cannot bend down to garden her vegetable garden. I proposed to raise th vegetable bed to a comfortable height thus minimizing the need to bend.


    How much depth of soil is needed to garden successfully?

    What materials would you use for drainage? I would use styrofoam.

    Any other helpful tip would be of great benefits.

    THanks A Ton
  2. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Well-Known Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

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    Vancouver, Canada
    Raised beds are not only easier on the back, but ideal in our wet-winter climate for improving drainage.

    The best drainage is afforded by using the same soil material throughout the bed (i.e., top to bottom). Large air pockets or "discontinuities" prevent soil moisture from percolating downward.

    If using non-soil material such as styrofoam to make up the volume of the raised bed, ensure that such materials are not layered, but mixed into a matrix of soil to allow adequate moisture flow around them.

    Non-soil materials are best kept out of the top 15-20cm (6"-8") to maximize root-zone moisture and nutrient content.

    Other materials that can be used include washed sand, gravel, hydroponic beads (your local police may have these for free) and perlite. Organic materials, such as sawdust, peat moss and bark chips should not be used in large quantity, as they break down and tend to overly acidify the soil.

    Good luck!
  3. Juliet

    Juliet Member

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    What about sand? I just finished a book that says I should add equal parts sand and topsoil, in addition to compost, fertilizer etc. Why do I want so much sand?

    Thansk, Juliet
  4. clazman

    clazman Member

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    Enumclaw, WA
    Just thought I'd chime in here.

    I have made a series of raised beds and wood walkway for my wife to access in her Redman power chair. She "lives" in this chair. It has standing and reclining capability. Please refer to the attached pictures.

    The beds are of various ages. These pictures were taken 3 years ago so the oldest bed is maybe 5 years old. It took several years to complete the garden as depicted here.

    I used 2ea 2X6's and one 2X4 for the sides so the height of the beds is 13-1/2 Inches. I used leftover 2x4's and 2X6's for the corner posts. I used whatever wood was available (Hemlock, Fir or Spruce). The beds on the one end are 2' wide by 6' long. We chose the 24 inch width since my wife has access to only one side. The remaining beds that she can access from both sides are 3' wide X 4' long. The first beds, of which there are several, were 3' wide X 6' long. I could barely lift those for I had to position them myself. I had to roll them into position. I decided to downsize to 4' long simply to reduce the weight I had to move. The beds are separated by a wood walkway that is 30" wide. This is narrow as we could go with her power chair being 23" wide. The walkway is constructed of two 2X4's running longitudinally with transverse 1X6's for the walk surface spaced about 3/8 apart.

    The oldest bed, perhaps 5 years old, (the one in the lower left) needs replacing. The 2X4's corners have rotted out and the sides are not far behind in deterioration. I'd like to know what others here have done to make repair easy for I have to remove most of the dirt (just to remove the frame) and dumped it on any vacant beds. This is NOT fun.

    For the replacement beds I am moving up to 4X4's for the corner posts. A little more cost, but hopefully they will last a little longer.

    Also, to save reduce cost I used # 10 FH screws X 3" long. I think I will go to 3/8 lag screws. The only problem there is that I will have to counter bore for the heads (This is to protect her power chair from the heads). The FH screws were inherently safe in this regard.

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