I enrolled in the Citizen Gardner class which provided me with some excellent knowledge on installing a Raised Bed garden. I’d like to share my approach with this community. The first assumption is that you’ve built the raised bed already. If not, check out http://northtexasvegetablegardeners.com/blog/2012/03/11/how-to-build-a-citizen-gardener-raised-bed/.
- Site Selection – Ideally, you want about 8 hours of direct sun, but the intensity can be a problem. There are shading remedies (i.e. hoop houses, etc.) that help with sun intensity. My side yard has a southern exposure, which should provide fairly good of morning sun. I am, however, shaded in the late afternoon by a large tree in my yard.
- I fed the microbes beneath my bedding area with lots dry molasses, watered it in HEAVILY, laid down layers of cardboard, and watered everything in HEAVILY.
- I laid down an expansive cardboard barrier (2′ beyond perimeter, 2′ between beds, 3′ between beds and house to give a little more buffer from the hot brick during Summer) to “turn the lights out” on Bermuda grass lawn. Try to lay cardboard 2-layers thick.
- My dad once told me, “(mild explicative), when I was coming up Bermuda was a weed.” Dad was right, especially from the perspective of a vegetable garden.
- Import organic, well-amended soil to begin an organic garden. It saves a lot of time and effort. I used Living Earth’s Vegetable Garden Mix, http://livingearth.net/products-services/products/landscape-soil. Another popular choice Soil Building Systems Organic Growers’ Mix http://www.soilbuildingsystems.com/BeddingMixesData.php#. It took about 1 cu. yd. for my two 48″ x 48″ x 10″ beds.
- Make sure your beds are level. This will help with erosion by providing proper drainage. Notice I used stones on the front corners (my yard slopes away from the house) to accomplish this. When you move in your soil, use 5-gallon buckets. Take your time, being careful to not bump the bed off level. It helps to have 2-3 people hauling soil and 1 person spreading the soil in the bed. My wife spread soil, while my sons and I hauled the soil in.
- Walking area around/between beds (24″). Covered the cardboard with hardwood mulch to 1. choke out Bermuda and other weeds 2. retain water during dry periods 3. help to decompose cardboard thereby adding organic matter to the soil 4. provide soft walking/kneeling media for gardening.
- Added string sections as final preparation for planting.
If you have any questions, let me know. Dirty hands!