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ebinmaine

Garden construction info wanted

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ebinmaine

Over the last few years Trina, her mom and I have experimented with growing some of our own vegetables. 

We started out 3 seasons ago with 5 raised beds approximately 40 x 40 inches. 

Last year and this year we added a couple to get to 9 beds.  

Each year we've leveled them at the end of the season.

 

We have decided to build an area to be a dedicated permanent garden. 

 

We'll be having a local excavator come in to do some leveling of the area behind the backyard. That way we can use part of the existing fence to surround the garden.  

 

 

We're thinking we'll need to bring in fill to build up the base some. 

 

What should we use?

 

 

 

We'll likely have the excavator cut a drainage ditch around the right hand (far side) of the garden to keep from having the area become too mucky/super wet.  

 

Thoughts comments questions suggestions etc....??

 

 

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Yossarian

Look into hugelkultur and/or permaculture.  Both are essentially building beds with thick layers of organic matter that decomposes and enriches the soil for years.  We've been doing a sort of mix of both since the second year we moved to this place. The soil is full of clay and the PO had tried to amend it with sand and who knows what else. Root crops would be stunted if they grew at all.  We have two large hugel beds and several smaller raised beds with rotting wood as the core.  My wife grows 9 pound sweet potatoes in one of them.

 

 

Edited by Yossarian
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SylvanLakeWH

With as many leaves as you have I would recommend piling them on the garden area in the fall and tilling them in… basically sheet composting…

 

As far as new “fill”, do you have a local source for manure and topsoil? I’d go with a combination if you have such access…

 

:twocents-twocents:

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Moparfanforever

Don't know what kind of soil you can get your hands on where you live , but my garden here in Missouri is rich black/clay soil. I do fertilize and put blood meal on it in the spring , and I have a bagger on my 1848 that I bag leaves and grass in and till in my garden. The leaves help with organic matter and helps keep the soil from compacting. I also save leaves for mulch around tomato plants.My garden spot has been worked for at least 100 years , so it is a prime spot.

 

The clay soil will hold water good in dry periods. Save some blood meal to put around your garden to keep the critters away.

 

YouTube is your friend , millions of gardening videos.

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ebinmaine
3 minutes ago, Moparfanforever said:

My garden spot has been worked for at least 100 years

That's a huge part of my questioning. 

This area dates back to the 1700s or earlier for European occupation, 10,000 years or more for the natives. 

Near as I can figure there has never been a homesite, much less a garden of any kind here. 

The forest floor is of course decades upon decades of rotting leaves etc so that's likely excellent. 

 

One of the biggest reasons for having an excavator come in is to sort the rocks out to some extent. 

The land here is at least half made of large rocks and boulders. 

 

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SylvanLakeWH

Good clean topsoil and manure, combined with mulched leaves will also help with your rock and drainage issue… get the planting bed up and away from the big rocks… get the water a path away slowly as well…

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8ntruck

I'll agree with @SylvanLakeWH about adding leaves.  We had a 40' x 50' garden when we lived in Bowling Green.  Soil was heavy reddish clay.  We burned our yaed waste in the garden every fall and added a couple of pickup truck loads of leaves every winter.  Turned them under in the spring.  8 or 9 years later, the soil was more of a dark reddish brown.

 

We grew tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, squash, corn, onions, okra (ugh!), and cantelope at various times.

Edited by 8ntruck
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Achto
19 minutes ago, ebinmaine said:

The land here is at least half made of large rocks and boulders. 

 

I worked on a farm that was loaded with rocks. After you worked/tilled the field then you spent hours walking around it picking up rocks. Yep! year after  after year. Owner said it had been that way since he was a kid. We would take the rocks & pile them up on fence lines and into the wood. Really irritated me the first time that I saw field stone for sale at a land scaping place. If I had only know then that the :angry-cussingblack: things were actually worth money. :lol:

 

If you are going to have some hauled in I suggest some good top soil. After it is delivered have it tested to see what may be needed to get the most production out of it. To get a test contact your  University of Maine Cooperative Extension county office. 

They should be able to give you suggestions based on your sample.

Edited by Achto
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Skwerl58

In my gardens I add leaves before I plow in the fall. Then get some manure thrown on it before I turn in the spring. I also add straw in between some rows during growing season. This helps hold moisture and becomes compost. Good luck on your gardening. Some don't like fertilizers but it helps grow more and epsom salt on tomatoes and peppers.

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JimSraj

If you’re bringing spoil in get the best you can. The deeper the good soil the better.  I’ve been raised bed gardening for 50+ years and use all my lawn clippings (no chemicals on the lawn)as mulch around all my plants. It smothers nearly all weeds and helps hold moisture. The earthworms love it as it decomposes and enriches the soil. 

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Darb1964

Very good advice as always. I would get as much cow manure as I could find, it should be a few years old minimum. First year leaves I would avoid. If you have chicken manure that's a few years old also very good. You need to have a good kit to measure the ph. Most likely you will need to add lime and a lot of it. Maine has lots of blue berries because the ph. In the soil is low, 5.8 ish. For most vegetables you want 7.0ish.that will take years to achieve, but adding lime and seasoned compost will keep it close. Lime is cheap, I would dump a good amount on the area now, even if its snow covered, it takes time to absorb in. I use tractor supply for fertilizer, the all perpous stuff, use as directed. Small amounts of sand is good, don't put your ashes in it directly, compost with leaves, manure, egg shells, coffee grounds. Avoid pine needles, put them around your blueberry bushes if you have them.

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oliver2-44
3 hours ago, ebinmaine said:

The forest floor is of course decades upon decades of rotting leaves etc so that's likely excellent. 

While cow and horse manure is good it can contain lots of weed seed. Aged- composted manure will have sterilized some of these seeds. 
 

If you can harvest a lot of natural compost from forest floor areas that is your goldmine. It’s even better than manure for building up your soil  (but I will say chicken or rabbit manure is great ) After you have the executor level the site I suggest a thick layer of forest floor compost, then foot topsoil and more forest compost tilled in. 

As mentioned above Ph is very important so learn what Ph the plants you grow like. Also mentioned above your University of Maine Cooperative Extension county office and website is a wealth of information.  (Yes there are tons of YouTube videos with lots of opinions and mid-information) But you Extension service has tested proven information  I just completed a 6 month- weekly Master Gardners class put on by our Texas Extension Service. I’ve been gardening for years but learned a lot. 

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ebinmaine

A lot of great advice as usual folks. 

That's why I posted this. 

 

Feel free to keep it going...

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Racinbob

One of my favorite cover crops is buckwheat. It grows fast, chokes out weeds and tills in very easily. I had the space so I would dedicate about half of the garden to 3-4 plantings of it tilled in. The following year I'd swap ends. In the end I was using for the veggies as one crop finished up for the year I'd seed that area and get one planting tilled in. The soil in the picture was heavy clay. You can see what one tiller pass would do to the mature buckwheat. It looks like it would make a tangled mess around the tines but it doesn't  because it's so tender. It does well on sandy soils too. :)

 

944039438_TillingBuckwheat.jpg.1b157764b500c65b5aea5ee89c73e5a3.jpg

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pfrederi

Building quality soil is a long term process.  Don't expect miracles in the first couple of years... Make sure you are happy with where you place it and also that it getsfull sun most all the day all season long.

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Pullstart

Coffee grounds (got a Starbucks nearby? They give away bags with filters that can decompose too) have nitrogen, chickens make a ton of nitrogen, firewood ash has tons of K otherwise known as potassium, rabbits are great fertilizer makers too and also taste great!  Dead wood under the top soil, other compost, more dead stuff, fish remains, etc.  there’s always the bagged method of dirt with all the manufactured beneficials too…

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ebinmaine

Is there any particular thing that decomposes one should NOT use for compost?

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Snoopy11
13 minutes ago, ebinmaine said:

Is there any particular thing that decomposes one should NOT use for compost?

You... really want an answer to that...? :huh:

 

:laughing-rolling:

 

Don

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ebinmaine
1 hour ago, Snoopy11 said:

You... really want an answer to that...? :huh:

 

:laughing-rolling:

 

Don

Yepp. 

A G rated one ...

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Pullstart

Well, it seems dog poop kills grass.  Maybe nitrogen content?  Keep Mirror outta the garden for doo do dooty.  :lol:

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ebinmaine
1 minute ago, Pullstart said:

Well, it seems dog poop kills grass.  Maybe nitrogen content?  Keep Mirror outta the garden for doo do dooty.  :lol:

That's easy enough. She's never allowed in the garden.

 

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Handy Don

FWIW, the foliage from Irises does not compost well. :confusion-shrug:

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SylvanLakeWH
3 hours ago, ebinmaine said:

Is there any particular thing that decomposes one should NOT use for compost?

Pine needles…

 

Just plow in all those deciduous leaves that fall everywhere and you will have plenty of compost…

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ri702bill

All:

And with a successful garden comes the need for Critter Control - you may wish (or may want to wait) to consider what type of perimeter and / or top fencing will be needed to keep all your efforts from the little varmints....

Bill

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SylvanLakeWH
48 minutes ago, ri702bill said:

And with a successful garden comes the need for Critter Control - you may wish (or may want to wait) to consider what will be needed to keep all your efforts from the little varmints....


Just some ideas… BBT style… :ph34r: :violence-blades:
image.jpeg.4b6d0b030d3afbcbc8516078e322a389.jpeg

 

image.jpeg.7f75242da7fdd5a7a14941ee0b93ebd7.jpeg
 

image.jpeg.b3bdf15114f75e56fe26fbfd30277228.jpeg

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