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Starting our raised annual bed  RSS feed

 
Posts: 5
Location: Alberta, Canada - Zone 2b ( 3 if I'm lucky)
forest garden urban
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Hello!

I've been lurked around the forums for a while, but this is my first post. I'm pretty new to gardening, and just starting to learn about permaculture. I dream of turning my grass into a giant urban food producing utopia one day.

Anyhow. We are about to start working on our next project - a raised annual garden bed. We'd like it all built and ready so we can plant next spring ( and maybe get some bulbs in this fall). We've got a good idea of size, and what we'll build it with, but I'm a but stuck on what to fill it with. So a few questions for you:

1. We have a ton of dug up sod from where we planted our food forest. Right now this sod is just sitting in the sun along our fence. Can we use this as the bottom layer of our annual bed? We would top with a good 8-10 inches of compost.
2. Should we rip out the sod that will be below our raised bed?
3. We have a vole problem in our yard - I'm assuming the best way to keep them out is to put down some fine wire mesh? I think I had heard someone mention using two layers slightly shifted to ensure there's no holes they can get into. Is there any other vole mitigation we can do?
4. Should we just work on getting on the soil this year and skip the bulbs in the fall - or is there a method we can use that will allow us to do some planting in a few months?

Sorry for such a long post, I would really appreciate any wisdom!
 
gardener
Posts: 5084
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Callandra Caufield wrote:Hello!

I've been lurked around the forums for a while, but this is my first post. I'm pretty new to gardening, and just starting to learn about permaculture. I dream of turning my grass into a giant urban food producing utopia one day.

Anyhow. We are about to start working on our next project - a raised annual garden bed. We'd like it all built and ready so we can plant next spring ( and maybe get some bulbs in this fall). We've got a good idea of size, and what we'll build it with, but I'm a but stuck on what to fill it with. So a few questions for you:

1. We have a ton of dug up sod from where we planted our food forest. Right now this sod is just sitting in the sun along our fence. Can we use this as the bottom layer of our annual bed? We would top with a good 8-10 inches of compost.
2. Should we rip out the sod that will be below our raised bed?
3. We have a vole problem in our yard - I'm assuming the best way to keep them out is to put down some fine wire mesh? I think I had heard someone mention using two layers slightly shifted to ensure there's no holes they can get into. Is there any other vole mitigation we can do?
4. Should we just work on getting on the soil this year and skip the bulbs in the fall - or is there a method we can use that will allow us to do some planting in a few months?

Sorry for such a long post, I would really appreciate any wisdom!



1.) Sod laid green side down works great as a base layer, green side down exposes the roots and prevents the grass from making a comeback.

2.) If you lay the already dug up sod as in #1, no need to do more sod digging, it too will rot in place and that is always a good thing, more humus in the bed.

3.) Voles do not dig as deep as moles or gophers a double layer of 1/4 inch wire mesh, slightly off set will keep those pesky critters out, you also want at least 6 inches of above ground height for the border of the bed to keep them from going over the top.
     If you don't want to spend a lot of time laying down the mesh all over the bottom of the bed, dig a trench 8 inches down and staple mesh to the edging allowing  it to hang all the way to the bottom of your trench, that too will keep the voles from getting in.

4.) This one depends on what bulbs you want to put in. I like to use a double row of garlic as an out side the bed border for our gardens, this is an added protection against moles, voles, gophers, none of these guys like the smell of growing garlic and will avoid it.

If you do all of the above, you might find that your vole problem goes away entirely, cats on the property also do a good job of convincing voles to leave the area, since they are a favorite toy animal for house cats.

Redhawk
 
Callandra Caufield
Posts: 5
Location: Alberta, Canada - Zone 2b ( 3 if I'm lucky)
forest garden urban
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After a very LONNNNNNGGGGGGG winter, I am just starting to think about this again!

We finally have our annual bed built, and now we need to start filling it. I had asked about using old ripped sod as the base layer for our annual bed, I'll be sure to use newspaper on top of it. My big question now - the dug up sod sat out all winter long, it's dried and kind of crappy looking  - can I still use this as a base layer if I add some layers like what is described in this post? Soil Post

Thanks!



 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Yes, you can still use that sod as your base layer, it will do fine and you probably won't have any grass plants come up from it since the roots probably froze solid over the winter exposure.
 
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