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Building Permanent Raised Beds - Order of Operations  RSS feed

 
Ahsun Chaudhry
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Hello everyone,

Looking to build 30" raised beds on land that was used for soybean crop last season (and many seasons before that). It's left bare after harvesting, so plenty of weeds have taken hold. How do I proceed? Is passing through the area with a deep roto-till sufficient? Or must the larger weeds be removed by hand?

The beds will not be in use while I am nursing seedlings anyway, so I was thinking of cultivating deeply with a walking tractor (this is the only time I will be doing this, intend to follow minimum tillage practices), covering the area with a tarp for a couple weeks while the seedlings grow, then removing the tarps to raise the beds with a rotary plow.

Also, when would I add amendments to boost organic matter during this whole process? Before the beds are raised, after, just before transplanting seedlings etc. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Ahsun
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Instead of going right in with tillage why not use a cover to smother those weeds and turn them into fertilizer for the soil?

I assume that 30" beds refers to the height of the bed? or is that a  width reference? Either way, how long is each bed going to be? What type of raised bed are you describing, open mound or boxed in?

a layer or two of wetted cardboard, covered with a mulch layer will smother out almost all of the weeds currently growing.

Once you have accomplished that, then you might use tillage to mix the cover with the soil so the fresh and living bacteria will become inoculated into the soil below.
Or you could just build your raised beds on top of those cover layers.

Redhawk

 
Ahsun Chaudhry
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:

I assume that 30" beds refers to the height of the bed? or is that a  width reference? Either way, how long is each bed going to be? What type of raised bed are you describing, open mound or boxed in?



30" wide, hundred feet long, open mound.

I was afraid that tilling after occulation would bring up new weed seeds from the ground
 
Bryant RedHawk
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any time you disturb soil, you are allowing dormant seeds the chance to sprout. That isn't an issue just what happens.

Lots of "weeds" will regrow from the roots, some even the smallest bit of root, so again that is just what happens.
"Weeds" are going to survive, what you want to do is take as much of their chance of growing away as possible.

Since you mention that this land was a long time soy field, I can almost guarantee that you are dealing with dirt instead of soil.
If you till dirt, you end up with dirt. If you till soil you can also end up with dirt.

Dirt is minerals, Soil is living, chock full of bacteria, fungi, amoeba, nematodes, and many other life forms, they are the "Biota" the life that we want to grow things in since these organisms are what make those minerals available to plant roots.

To build dirt into soil you have to bring life to it, organic matter is how you do that, the better the organic matter, the more life you bring.
It can be tilled in or it can be allowed to work from top to bottom under its own power.

Lots of different methods to reach the same end point, our job is to observe first then hope we make the best decision and either way it goes, we must learn from the actions we take.

Redhawk
 
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