Raised garden beds

Asked April 7, 2020, 11:58 AM EDT

I live in East Medford and have a very good site on a lower existing lawn that I want to build (4) 4' x 8' x 16" Cedar raised vegetable beds....a few questions.. 1) Is it best to remove underlying lawn with sod cutter or instead just layer cardboard/newspaper and then cover with good soil? 2) What are the most commonly used drip irrigation for this size of raised bed? 3) Any local suggestions for obtaining good soil for beds? If you have any articles that might answer these questions I am eager to get started!

Jackson County Oregon

1 Response

It is best to prepare your site by removing weeds and establishing pathways before construction.

Beds that are longer than 6 feet or taller than about 18 inches should be reinforced (with cross cable, anchored stakes, or other mechanisms) to help prevent the weight of the soil from pushing the boards outwards.

The next step is to fill your raised bed. Purchase or prepare a soil mix with high organic matter. When using a soil mix, good landscaping companies offer separate mixes for different uses. For example, one with coarser soil may work well for a lawn but not for a raised vegetable bed. Choose a mix that has good nutrient and water-holding capacity. If the framing material is sitting on top of the native soil, then first dig down or rototill at least 6 inches and mix the native soil into the soil mix as you fill the bed. Called “double digging,” this is optional but will loosen the soil for deeper plant root growth. A soil test is recommended so that you can properly adjust the nutrient level and add supplemental fertilization if needed.

Some options include native soil moved from other areas of the garden or bulk soil mixes purchased from garden centers or landscape supply companies. If your native soil is heavy and slow-draining, incorporate organic matter such as finished home compost, purchased compost, composted leaves (leaf mold).

Check with your local grange co-op or farmer’s co-op for purchasing soil and irrigation equipment.

Here are some publications to check out:

https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/fs270.pdf

https://www.bhg.com/gardening/vegetable/vegetables/grow-a-vegetable-garden-in-raised-beds/

https://www.thespruce.com/raised-bed-garden-ideas-4172154

Hope this helps!