Robert and Billie Nicholson
Getting to the Root of the Problem
We have been enjoying raised bed gardening for years and have had great success growing a wide variety of healthy, delicious and cost effective fresh vegetables. We use artificial soil as described below. This works great, so great that everything wants to be in the soil, including roots from other nearby trees, shrubs, etc. Our solution was to build a raised square foot garden so that nearby roots are not aware of our rich soil. Other advantages include not stooping to tend the plants and those with disabilities can sit in a wheelchair to continue the pleasures of gardening. Also when building the raised portion of your growing bed you can adjust the length of the legs to accommodate the slope of your property. We can build a few beds at our lake house and not have our veggies tumbling into the lake.
Our raised garden bed table was made from pressure treated lumber and placed on cement blocks. To keep the chemicals used to preserve the wood frame isolated from our soil we installed a plastic barrier, plastic composite decking and ground cloth before placing our plastic composite garden kit (4’x8’) on top. We secured the garden kit to the table with metal braces and 3 ½ inch #10 stainless steel screws. The finishing touch was to place strips of ground cloth at right angles inside the garden bed to prevent soil from washing through the cracks as the unit ages.
For The Growing Medium:
We buy our growing medium from the local farm store and get a better price.
1/3 – (4 cu foot bail) – Peat Moss
1/3 – (4 cu foot bag) – Vermiculite
1/3 blend of the following:
– Composted cow manure
– Composted chicken manure
– Composted mushroom
Start by opening the peat moss and break it up into small pieces in the bed. Add vermiculite and mix well. Open other bags and mix well working out lumps. Mix all growing medium dry. When finished mixing, water in the growing medium well (about one hour), test bed by checking bottom for dampness. If the bottom is dry, water until damp. This soil mixture has its good & bad issues. Good: Very rich mixture & great 1st year yields with no weed seeds. Bad: Very rich mixture so that every root in the area wants to invade the rich soil.
This rich bed is so delicious that garden worms will come to live. If you see worms in the yard pick them up and place into your new raised bed garden to speed up the worming process. We buy garden worms every 5 years or so. This year we ordered 1000 worms from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. They come with homecoming instructions. Go to https://unclejimswormfarm.com
NEVER step into your raised bed, as this will compact the soil and impede the great things to come. Reach in from either side to do your gardening work.
You are now ready to plant. Remember that this method of growing will yield bigger plants than you are used to seeing, so be careful to not plant your new seedlings too close together. More information is found at https://www.squarefootgardening.com
Billie Nicholson, editor