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50 ft or 100 ft raised beds on contour?  RSS feed

 
Britt Arbanas
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Hey, i'm digging and establishing a market garden this week. Total size is 100 ft by 100 ft with raised beds roughly on contour. My question is whether I should split the beds into 50 ft and 50 ft with a walkway or keep them at 100 ft long. If I do a walkway that splits the beds in half - that pathway would run straight down hill and not on contour, possibly causing erosion in our wet winters (Pacific Northwest). Anyone have any advice?
 
Kate Muller
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How will you working the beds? If you are using all hand tools, wheel barrows, garden carts I would make the beds shorter. If you had breaks every 20 to 30 feet it would be easy to stagger the openings and reduce erosion.
Really long beds without breaks will entice you to cut walk across them. Even if the breaks are narrow foot paths they will reduce the urge to cut a cross the beds. I also wouldn't make the beds too wide. I know too many tall guys with long arms who design wide beds that their shorter family members can't reach the center of. Designing the beds to be easy for future help to work and maintain is a good thing to design from the beginning.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Rather than cutting across the beds at a 90 degree angle could you cut them at a 45 or lower so the path is not down hill and not on contour but a little of both?
 
R Scott
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How wide are the beds? Thirty inch beds are ready for most to step over whenever you want, 36 is tough, 48 is impossible for most.

As long as you standardize, you can use row covers and hoses anywhere--20, 25, 33, 50, 100 doesn't really matter. I like 50' because I have places I can't put longer on contour, but I don't know the rest of your plans.
 
Britt Arbanas
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I like the idea of a 45 degree angle for the pathways! The beds are 42 inches wide, too wide to step over myself.
 
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