Please join us for an information packed workshop Saturday May 5th at 11am. Sue Lavalee, of Coast of Maine, will review methods and importance of topdressing and incorporating compost into your garden beds every year, the no-till method of gardening, the importance of organic gardening practices and the Soil Food Web. She will focus on the subject of raised bed gardening and discuss the following topics:
Getting the pre-planning process on paper
Options for building materials, which materials are unhealthy to use
Choosing your location
Determining the size
Calculating the volume of soil and what type you'll need to fill the beds
Planting, the importance of timing and pre-warming the soil
Proper watering techniques
Seasonal maintenance of the beds
And lots of other helpful gardening tips!
Sue Lavalee joined Coast of Maine Organic Products family in 2013 and has worked in the horticultural industry since the mid-eighties. A passionate gardener, she puts a lot of effort into organic fruit, vegetable and herb gardening. Because a lot of the harvest is preserved, she can enjoy cooking with it year-round. An avid birder and naturalist, she is most at home when enjoying the outdoors, whether it's kayaking, beach combing or hiking through her Connecticut woodland.
Why garden in raised beds? There are so many benefits!
You don't need a large patch of fertile land and no sod removal needed
Better control of your soil composition, healthy and fertile
No root rot issues and less fungal diseases affecting the roots
Easier to weed (soil not compacted)
Raised gardens can be built to suit any height needed
Raised gardens make it easy to adapt the square foot gardening method because it eliminates single row gardening (waste of space)
Soil warms up more quickly, can plant earlier (no more waiting until "the soil is workable"
Easy to add cold frames, row covers, bird netting, trellises
Less work, no turning of the soil needed and reduces the amount of bending
You can have different types of soil for different beds
You can take advantage of vertical gardening. Climbing peas, beans and cucumbers
No more damage from burrowing animals like moles and voles
No compaction of soil because there's no foot traffic = healthier roots
No muddy shoes
Less competition for nutrients and water from tree roots
Raised beds are aesthetically pleasing
RAISED BEDS REQUIRES CAREFUL PLANNING. Follow these helpful instructions to get your raised bed gardening underway.
1. Start with making a LIST OF CROPS you'd like to grow and how much your household will need. Keep in mind:
Days to harvest (succession planting)
Are you preserving the harvest?
Flowers for pollinators and edible blossoms (Viola, Calendula, Nasturtium, Chives)
Patio Varieties as space savers
Sun requirements = at least 6-8 hours a day
How close to a faucet?
How close to a tool shed?
Correct layout - rows going from E to W
Need to fence off the perimeter?
25 year landscape fabric?
Level ground. Mow closely and put down 6-10 sheets of newspaper before wire mesh
3. CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS
Kits available. Gronomics - USA Western Red Cedar w/ 5yr warranty. Retail for $119 for a 4x4 ground level frame to $299 for a 34"x48"x32" elevated garden box. A raised bed frame 34"x95" is $259 and has an optional trellis kit sold separately for $139
Use Organic (pressure-treated wood leaches copper and/or arsenic). Wood planks (cedar, cypress, locust & redwood = rot resistant but costly), sawmill slabs, garden ties (warp), tree logs (landscape fabric needed), natural stone (hold the warmth in at night), loose stacked stone pavers & bricks (frost heaves will elevate the pH), straw bales, railroad ties (leach creosote)
4. SIZE OF THE BED(S)
The best design is to have the raised bed small enough to ensure that your hands can reach everywhere without the need to stand on the soil or walk on it.
Size of pathways (just foot traffic or wheelbarrows / garden carts)
Height of beds
Drip irrigation with emitters?
Loose fertile and living
The futility of putting a $5 plant in a 5cent hole. Soil food web.
Topdress beds 1 inch per year with compost. A 1 cu. ft. bag will cover about 10 sq.ft. at 1 inch deep
Pore space (porosity) allows water and air to reach the roots easily and fosters a healthy population of beneficial micro-organisms
Calculate the volume. A 4' x 4' x 12" bed= 48"x 48" x 12"= 27,648 cu. in. divided by 1,728" (a cubic foot is 12'x12'x12")= 16 cft = .5926 cubic yards
Don't fill the beds right to the top, leave a few inches for mulch
Cover soil immediately (even if you haven't planted yet) with 2-3 inches of mulch (hay, straw, leaves, pine needles, bark mulch, landscape fabric, newspaper, plastic). Uncovered soil results in erosion, compaction, drying out, weed seed germination
Last frost date usually coincides with the full moon in May
Plants started indoors need hardening off prior
Direct seeding (get your info on seed packets, books, internet). Warm weather crops (soil temp = 60-70 degrees) vs. cool weather crops (45-50 degrees)
Pre-warming the soil
Transplanting on cloudy, non-windy cool days are best
Mulch or row cover (garden fabric)
1 inch per week. Exceptions to this rule. Rain gauge
Water in the morning. Never at night (invites fungal diseases and powdery mildew)
Never let the soil dry out completely. If delicate root hairs die back, the plant must direct its energy to re-growing them, rather than to producing or sizing up fruit. Water stressed plants can also become bitter and tough
Soil test. pH level
Timing - a week after planting and a mid summer application (or halfway through the life cycle of the crop)
Organic vs synthetic / chemical fertilizers