Long time no see Permies! Was hoping the folks here could pitch in their opinion of my first raised beds! I went ahead and made one, but I realized I messed up (not sure how I did that?), so I'm going to re-vamp this bed I just made, and I'm deciding between 2 options. I am hoping to have this finished by this Friday, or ASAP!!!(:
Currently the bed is;
- 6ft L x 4ft W x 1/2 ft H.
- The area gets about 5 hours max of sunlight due to the poor aspect of my backyard.
- When I made the bed, I took the top soil and flipped it upside down, then laid the soil we purchased on top of that.
- My yards natural soil is a sandy loam!
- Yard in untreated, and filled with diversity!
- The space I'm working with is about 10 feet, and is comprised of a space between two bushes in our yard (we call them "happy bushes"). Right behind the space for the bed, the yard slopes down a few feet, so I can't go back much without having to worry about that.
[[[ See Image 1 ]]]]
OPTION 1: 2 square beds - I was thinking of just turning the current bed sideways (easier said than done), and placing another along it to form an isle. I could form two 6 x 4 beds this way in the same spot, instead of hogging it all with the current one.
[[[ See Image 2 ]]]]
OPTION 2: A keyhole bed!!! - Looking through my Permaculturebooks, I thought, why not just make one key hole bed there, then next year create two more in the area of my yard that gets maximum aspect, and crop rotate?
- For the keyhole bed, The mock design below is about 10ft diameter. Inside is about 3ft diameter, and the planting space spans about 3 feet across.
[[[ See Image 3 ]]]]
- So I was wondering what you guys think? Keyhole, or just two rectangles?
- If I go keyhole, is 3ft diameter walking space too much..? And is 3ft garden space too much..?
- Is it ok that I'm just flipping the top soil over?
- Because I can only do 1/2ft of depth, should I do anything to the the space between the ground and new soil? Should I place branches/grass clippins..? or put cardboard (I'm weary about toxins!)
- Should I mulch this bed once finished with say, straw from home depot? (if they have any), or pine needles? Or just grass clippings from my yard?
If anyone has anything else to add, or advise or question, please pitch in! This is my first bed, I already made one mistake, I'm NOT trying to be perfect - just want some experience, and to actually grow some food:D Over time, I could always raise the height of the bed another 6 inches to made it 1ft deep, if money is there for it, otherwise I have just 1/2 of soil I'm bringing to work with!
Just my thoughts - yes. I would keyhole and I would rectangle. Test it to see what you like, micro climates, etc. etc. There is no fail really. Just keep testing things.
Location: North Carolina
posted 5 years ago
Hey Justin! Sorry, I think I confused the situation - itntially I meant I only have room for either a keyhole, or create two rectangle beds, as the keyhole bed will replace the current rectangle bed in that exact location!
Perhaps if I spent more time, I could fit both... And make the keyhole smaller? But then it would fit in the yard awkwardly, and lose sunlight! So I don't think I want to expierment with that, but I'll keep it in mind!
I love the idea of the keyhole garden, I think you should go for it. It's fine to turn over the top soil and then put compost, etc. on top. Watch for weeds that come up through, depending on what you started with. Any of the mulching materials are fine, they are all a bit different and you may find one works better than another for you and whatever you plant. Any layers or organic material is a good thing. I do use a lot of cardboard, that's my preferred method, I don't worry overly about toxins and I try to use only brown cardboard. Make sure you share updates and pictures whatever you decide, I would love to see.