Raised No Dig Garden Beds

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by katsparrow, Sep 13, 2010.

  1. katsparrow

    katsparrow Junior Member

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    Hi,

    Just after some advice about what to do with my raised beds. We have built four raised garden beds for our veggies. They are edged with recycled sleeps (one sleeper high). I am now wondering what to fill them with. I have been looking at the idea of no dig beds where you layer different green matter with different manures together. I would love some advice, recipes (what ingredients to use) or suggestions. Should I use this method or is there something else I could do?

    Thanks for your help.
     
  2. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    Basically any organic matter can go in to begin with. Old grass hay, manures, straw (pea, barley etc), grass clippings, seedless weeds etc. Potatoes are a great crop to grow initially and these can be placed under straw rather than in soil.

    Another option is to treat your raised beds like compost heaps. Put any and all waste in it as you would a compost heap. When it reaches capacity add a few inches of soil or other growing media to plant into. If you have time between seasons you could plant directly into the compost.
     
  3. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Use what is cheap and locally available. Free and in your own garden wins hands down of course. Lawn clippings and tree prunings. I reckon you can't make good compost without some form of manure - you might be able to find a local farmer who will let you pick it up from his field, or a stable that will give it to you if you shovel it into your trailer. Shredded paper - or torn up newspaper and cardboard. Green scraps from the local vege shop. Think outside the box before just rocking up to Bunnings with your credit card.
     
  4. katsparrow

    katsparrow Junior Member

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    Thanks for your help. We are very new to all of this!!!
    A large tea tree fell six weeks ago. Can we trim off the green ends and add that to the mix? Does it matter how you layer it? e.g. the coarse material first? etc. Also how soon can you plant into it? Would it be suitable to sew direct crops like carrots into it or would I need to wait a while before doing that? We can get access to sheep and horse manure. Is that ok? Is it ok if it hasn't rotted down yet?
     
  5. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    Here are the basics care of Gardening Australia. It might also be worth getting Ester Dean's book from your local library. A quick Google will give you heaps of results.

    Or this from one of our members (I think) https://www.veryediblegardens.com/iveg/no-dig-gardening.

    There is a plethora of info on this type of gardening out there.

    Good luck.
     
  6. pippimac

    pippimac Junior Member

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    The following anti-raised bed rant may well not apply, but when I built my gardens the advice was a generic 'raised beds good blah blah blah'.
    Raised beds are hopeless with my sandy soil, let alone the difficulty of keeping them irrigated. The soil is now at about 'ground' level, and the raised sides make handy wind-breaks for seedlings and keep the mulch in though!
    Aside from my feelings about raised beds, it really doesn't matter too much what you chuck in/on. The basic rule is 'if it's lived, it can live again', but some things (like tea tree sticks...) can take quite a while to break down.
    I think you'd really struggle to grow root crops in the first season and you may have to dig 'holes', fill them with compost then plant seedlings.
    Whatever you do, water the heck out of it and mulch it till you feel you're being ridiculous, then pile some more on.
     
  7. Burra Maluca

    Burra Maluca Junior Member

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    I have problems with raised beds, too. Not because of sandy soil, but because of our climate. In the winter our soil is totally waterlogged, so the beds work well then due the extra drainage. And our soil is thin and , so the raised beds provide a good depth of rich soil for growing during the autumn and spring. But in the summer, when temperatures get seriously high and the place is bone dry, it's impossible to keep the beds watered and everything in them dies. We're still experimenting, trying to find the most suitable uses for the beds, but it looks like it's going to be mostly for starting off seedlings and cuttings, and maybe for things like carrots that like the extra depth. Or winter salads when it's too wet for them in the main garden. The thing is to experiment and figure out what works, what doesn't, and why.
     
  8. andybarks

    andybarks Junior Member

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    I too have just made a raised bed (take a look at the thread I started on here), and although I'm fairly new to all this I can share a few things with you.
    I tried the "lasagne method" of alternating lots of different layers of things. I started off with some cheap hay and uncomposted compost... if that makes sense. As in, dried leaved, twigs, food scraps etc that haven't broken down. You want something that will do well with drainage. Some websites say use riversand, but thats kinda expensive.
    Then I just made up layers of some good soil from the local landscape supply, chicken/horse/sheep fertiliser, lucerne hay, scattered some blood and bone and then compost. I made about 4 layers of repeating all this.
    But my mistake was that I used mushroom compost from the nursery which made everything go really alkaline (ph 8-9). If you have your own compost pile, just use that, dont worry about buying it.

    Hope that helps :)
     
  9. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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  10. andybarks

    andybarks Junior Member

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    Nice one Len, youve got a good setup there, I like the idea of using hay bales for edging.
    I'm surprised it went so well using mushroom compost, I guess i just got a bad batch. When I put in seedlings, alot of stuff wilted, died and got some kind of fungal infection.
     
  11. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    g'day andy,

    we have used mushy compost almost exclusively as it is always cheapest to get might have 30 minute highway travel to do but usually we get 40+ bags a go. only problem one time i mulched it and planted and it all got too hot and cooked seedlings, so don't mulch now for a couple of weeks or so. once there was salt on the top of the mushy compost this was so wild fungus would not grow while the bags where still in the shed, i wondered what might happen but nothing negative that we observed, everything grew. even topped up around plants with it no negatives.

    len
     
  12. digging

    digging Junior Member

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    You might want to considered loosing the soil underneith 1ft or so and adding compost etc before you add any new soil in the top beds that way you'll have really great opened up soils for roots to go deep and get to the water lower down more easily. Maybe you could try adding some biochar too!

    Digging
     
  13. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    to the people who are complaining about raised beds because their soil is no good, you seem to be missing the point of raised bed. The point of no dig gardening is to be able to garden when your ground is no good, so i wonder what your soil has to do with it? Are you filling up your raised beds iwth your bad soil? If your beds are draining too fast then you have to add more organic matter to it to hold the water in. That's what I understand about them. But anyway, OP I second the person who suggested Ester Dean's no-dig gardening book. YOu can get it form the library if you don't want to buy it. Also look at no dig garden recipes on GArdening Australia website.

    If you do make a garden bed with layers of stuff, you don't want to be planting your plants into a piles of uncomposted stuff because that is not the right environment for your seedlings. That's why you should follow a recipe rather than just throwing a lot of fresh gathered stuff.
     
  14. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    To me the single most important aspect to growing food is soil. And you really can't make good soil overnight, it takes time and care. No dig gardens are really about how you begin to build soil and still get some sort of 'instant' crop. It is also a good method for starting where there is lawn or weed that would take a lot of effort to remove. In the first instant this stuff really couldn't even be called soil, it is a growing medium sure, but it lacks some of the most important aspects of good soil. That will come with time.

    To me no-dig really needs to remain no-dig from the moment it is first constructed so that a good soil profile can eventually develop - dig does a lot of damage to soil structure. There are also other things to consider in the process of building your soil, and as we know the slow and steady approach usually yields better results. It is worth thinking about going in with green manure crops first to start using some of the rawer ingredients first and converting them to a more usable form for subsequent crops.

    I understand that sometimes you just want to get growing while you are on a burst of enthusiasm, but it really is worth understanding the way soil works and how plants relate naturally to soil, sun and water.
     
  15. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    yep grahame,

    what you said it works for us and what we do allows us to plant right away and by the end of 6 months it has developed into a good medium, this process is not a long term thing though what you do to feed the garden becomes a long term thing to maintain and continue to enhance the medium. i used to be one who tilled to stand master over the soil and improve the tilth, hey too much work, since we got on to this raised bed method it is all too easy once the bed is built and no need for a shed full of mastery digging tools. now when i dig into the medium with fingers i can't detemine where garden bed strata begins and original soil was. for the old tiller schoolers go to it, it's your back, and crop returns no different.

    len
     

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