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Making permanent/raised beds on the quick  RSS feed

 
Sam Billings
Posts: 37
Location: Plainville, MA
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I am entering into my second full season as a full-time market gardener.  While establishing infrastructure and perennial crops, I need to establish more space to grow annuals for cash-flow.  The short of it is, I need more beds, better beds, fast and cheap.  I have a walk behind tiller (not a fancy bcs just yet), a tractor with a regular plow (no discs or tillers), a broad fork, flame weeder, and plenty of hand-tools.  So far, I have been just tarping beds, broadforking, scuffling hoe-ing, adding compost, shallowtilling, raking, flameweeding and planting.  Or some variation of something like that.  This makes a good bed, I have pretty great soil to start with, but it's a lot of work and the beds really aren't "raised".  I imagine that there is a good way to incorporate the soil from the paths into my beds, or at least the new ones I make.  I also imagine that over time with the addition of more compost etc, the beds may get more "raisy". Anyway, I am looking for some good advice to help me open up some more beds and/or improve my existing beds without working crazy hard physically (like I did with the first ones) or buying more equipment. Oh, and I need them to be plant-able in one year or less. And also a million dollars...  Any thoughts? Thanks!
 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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I have terrible,tainted soil,that's my reason for building raised beds.
You have good soil, so why raised beds?
A lot of the tools you mentioned seem ill suited for raised beds.
 
Sam Billings
Posts: 37
Location: Plainville, MA
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William Bronson wrote: I have terrible,tainted soil,that's my reason for building raised beds.
You have good soil, so why raised beds?
A lot of the tools you mentioned seem ill suited for raised beds.


I suppose that is a good question.  Perhaps they are not entirely necessary for some crops.  I like the idea of leaving beds in place and improving the soil while having perennial cover crops in the paths.  I also like the aspect of a raised bed that creates microclimates, drainage and frost protection. 
 
Casie Becker
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Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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I'm also wondering why you're set on having raised beds. I can think of lots of different reasons a person could come to that decision, but there's a current trend in gardening to assume that raised beds are always better. In my area I either have slightly raised beds or have the in ground bed on a slight slope because we sometimes have periods where we just get too much rain. I have to take extra measures to be sure these beds don't dry out during our far more reliable summer (or sometimes years of) drought.

A quick and cheap method to make a raised bed is digging out a walkway between rows and throwing the good topsoil onto the bed instead of trampling it. We took it a step further and shaped the trench to hold water and filled back to the level of the beds with wood chips. Now when it rains all that water saturates the wood chips and slowly feeds back to the plants. It greatly reduces our watering needs.

You might also look into paul's article about hugelculture. https://permies.com/t/1040/17/Paul-Wheaton-hugelkultur-article-thread#494269 Some people have mixed results due to different climate conditions, but I think Maine is pretty close to ideal for this technique, if you can get access to logs.


 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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Sam Billings wrote:scuffling hoe-ing [...]
without working crazy hard physically


Perhaps it's just me, but scuffle-hoes are the most physically demanding style of weeding equipment that I ever tried to use...

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