raised bed drainage

Old 09-04-00, 07:26 AM
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I built a small raised bed last month- tilled the area, added compost & peat moss, then built w/ 4x4's. Now, after several days of rain, it's got standing water in it. Do I need to add sand? more compost? a pond won't be good when I go to plant in spring.
Old 09-04-00, 08:48 PM
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Unless you're planning on bog plants some changes will need to be made. What type of soil do you have? Clay content? Hardpan sub-layer? Have you done a drainage test?

A drainage test is easy. Just dig a couple of holes in the area just outside your new bed about 1' across and at least 1' deep. Fill them with water and see how long it takes to drain. If water does not drain within 3-4 hrs. at most you have a soil drainage problem.

There are several things you can do to improve drainage but they do take some effort. It is too long to go into here but an excellent illustration of it is in the book Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. Go to your local library and borrow a copy. Check out pp.67-69 on drainage and improving drainage.

The 4x4's can be impeding the drainage also. In addition, if you have slugs in your area be advised that they just love wood edged beds. They live down in there and then spend the night dining on your nicest plants first then polish off the rest of the plants for dessert. Aaaargh!

While you have the Square Foot Gardening book in your hand go ahead and read the rest of it. If you are planning on raising vegetables in your new bed you won't believe the quantity that guy can get out of a 4'x4' area. I've tried it - it really works. I just wish I'd been smart enough to think it up.

If you are planning on flowers those will be some of the nicest flowering plants you've ever raised using this method of soil prep.

With just nine 4'x4' beds in an area 12'x12' you will have enough vegetables/flowers to keep you in goodies all summer. Plus, it's so cost effective, time saving, and so little weeding it's astounding. I actually had time to enjoy just looking at it instead of spending long hours planting, weeding, etc.

Do get your hands on a copy of this book and give it a read. I think you will find the information in it very helpful not only with your drainage problem but with over-all success of your raised bed garden.

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