And A Question of My Own

DSCN9970, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

As I said earlier in the week I planted a vegetable garden recently. I’m fairly certain that the rain has destroyed 3/4 of it. But as I was walking around I noticed this raised garden box. And I seem to recall folks recommending raised garden boxes but I couldn’t remember why. So what’s the benefit to a raised garden box?

19 Comment

  • I think it’s mainly that it allows you complete control over what soil you use, you don’t have to till (just lay newspapers over the grass that’s there and fill), less weeds, etc. We have two 4×4 foot box gardens a la square foot gardening that work out pretty well.

  • Quincy St Neighbor

    Mary’s right. it’s the soil factor. is great if you got crappy ‘urban chilllum’ as they define our soil type here in da District, in layman’s term it means heavy, water clogged clay soil.

    also a big plus for those of us getting up there in the years, by being raised you don’t have to bend over so deeply to weed.

    plus the soil is warmer in a raised bed so you can start your garden earlier in the year. plants also like warm soil especially when nice and moist.

    i’ve got a pretty ambitious system of 5 raised beds this year and i’m doing a gardenshare with a fellow petworth neighbor.

    i’m sensing it’s going to be a bumpercrop season of zucchini!

    i’m also tempted to go guerrilla and cast my excess green bean and edanmae seedlings to climb up road side trees, fences and poles!!!! keep an eye out!

  • And the most important reason to have a raised garden with all the rain in DC…drainage!

  • What Skousen said – drainage is key. Also easier to improve the soil with compost if you’re working above the ground.

    I’ve gone guerrilla and taken over (eventually, with permission) a garden space vacated by a neighbor who moved but hasn’t sold their home. Thinking about casting a few sunflower seeds and rattlesnake bean seeds in other underutilized public spaces.

  • Raised beds are the bomb for all the reasons listed above. Just compare your garden to mine:

  • In addition to what’s mentioned above if you’re planting edible items if not using beds you should have your soil tested. You can either send it to be tested, bring it some nurseries or buy a soil test kit. Urban areas can have high levels of lead in the soil.

  • Raised beds and the sq. foot method worked really well for us since we were gardening neophytes. We gave away bags and bags of produce last year, and have already been flooded with strawberries and yummy radishes.

  • Wayan: we gave up on the lettuce after last year when it seemed to wilt as your were watching it, but yours looks really good. What kind of sun do you get? We get a lot, all day long.

  • What’s the “square foot method”?

  • This is my favorite site on the topic:

    Tim’s garden is fanfuggingtastic. Tim’s my hero.

  • The key to good lettuce (or anything else) is good soil in a raised bed. Mine is a 2 feet deep box of pure Smartleaf which I had soil tested so I could add the trace minerals it was missing (test every year, soil changes composition).

    The raised beds let me plant early, so my lettuce is strong by now. It gets morning to about 4pm sun, then goes into shade of a house behind ours. The beds also help with drainage and keep slugs at bay. I did have to buy & release ladybugs for this year’s bumper crop of aphids

    Past that, I haven’t done much but munch on the lettuce daily.

  • POP- contest. best reader garden.

  • Wayan wins.

  • I have never had a raised boxed garden before but the other contributors are right, good soil that you can control and drainage. I actually tilled the top 8-12 inches of my front lawn to plant a flower garden. I must have spent 3-4 full days tilling in garden soil, humus+manure, sand, leaf compost to get the soil to what I think is a respectable condition (I didn’t get it tested afterwards). I lost count of the number of 1-1.5 cubic ft bags I used for each ingredient but in the end it must have been around 25 bags total. Not to mention purchasing the tiller, a shovel, and 2 landscaping rakes (first one broke pretty quickly).

    I first set out to just change the slope of my front yard – it was sloped in towards my house. And being a new home owner I was afraid of the basement getting wet with heavy rainfall, mold and mildew. I probably spent 3 days digging around and moving this heavy clay when I decided that since I already started the front yard project I might as well put in the effort to try to get some decent soil in and plant some flowers.

  • My dad has a half acre veggie garden on his farm in Alabama with raised beds. He gets bumper crops of everything he grows.

    Any one having trouble with slugs? I think ther are chewing up my sweet basil. I have heard of putting a shallow pan of beer out to control. Does that work?

  • This rain is heaven for slugs, Anon. I’m trying out Sluggo and it seems to be working (fingers crossed). The darn things ate my basil, then attacked the petunias. The basil’s a goner, but the petunias seem to be returning. Sluggo is iron phosphate, which causes slugs to stop eating and die in a couple days. It’s not harmful to the soil, plants or beneficial insects. (I found it at Johnson’s)

  • I am growing tomatoes and herbs in my city soil. Someone mentioned raised beds as a way of deaing with lead in the soil. Is it really dangerous to eat vegetables grown in soil with lead in it? This may sound silly, but does it actually get into the food? If so, where do you get your soil tested? I don’t think the city does that, right? And I don’t live in College Park. Can anyone recommend a contact for DC residents that addresses soil testing?

  • One of the city agencies (parks and rec?) could probably provide you with a soil test kit. I think you can get them for free online too but you might have to pay to have the soil analyzed (d’Oh!).

    I love the idea of a PoP garden contest too! I have a balcony garden that I started from seeds and can only describe as “Ape S***” after all the rain (eggplants and squash that reach down to my neighbors balcony, sunflowers as tall as me…). These pics are from a few weeks ago: [flickr]

Comments are closed.