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Bed Raising

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Bed Raising

Post  jimmy cee on 10/14/2014, 8:24 pm

1st picture here is of last years crop (my very first SFG), it exceeded my greatest expectations.
I was so pleased I couldn't wait till the 2014 season.

This years crop was just about a total bust, I had some decent results, however nothing to rave about, so much so, I never took any pictures.
Now I think I know why.......ROOOOTS.....tree roots from a huge locust just 40 feet away.
I never gave this tree any thought when I made the beds, it never gave me any trouble until started using M.M.
Now I am going to disconnect the bed from the base and move it up ? inches, feet ?
Leave an air space between the 2 layers so I am able to view in between.
I have a few ideas as to what I am considering, however maybe your ideas can over take what I'm thinking.
This will be my last major job on this bed, I have 4 others to tackle.
Fortunately I am able to lift the frame in 1 piece once it's unbolted from the upright angle iron.
Then I need to think about the covering for the base (dirt) how high to make the supports and most of all what to use for the floor that will hold the weight of M.M.
Off the top of my head I am thinking about cement board, it can be supported enough so as not to crack, may be other material to look at also.

This is what I will move up...painted white portion
I removed the screen from the bottom


Here are a few roots that I left in for to show. roots grew through the weed barrier, some as thick as my finger with fine roots taking up a lot of the M.M. in this bed.


I'm planning to lay crosswise 2x4s, ? 2x6s ?, 2x8s ?, in 4 foot pieces close enough for ample support of the entire bed.
Bottom floor of the bed is open to selection, I want a material that will not rot, and will drain well.
A covering for the lower section, stones, gravel, etc. ?
I'll screen the space to keep varmints out.
What say you all ?


Last edited by jimmy cee on 10/14/2014, 8:38 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Bed Raising

Post  camprn on 10/14/2014, 8:29 pm

Jimmy I too had serious tree root troubles the past few years. I raised each bed off the ground by inches and used either wood boards or plywood bottoms to the beds. It was a lot of work but that fixed the problem.

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Re: Bed Raising

Post  jimmy cee on 10/14/2014, 8:37 pm

If I am going through all this trouble, I am thinking more than inches, I wouldn't feel good unless I was able to see through .
I think my task is a little different in that I have a bed on top of a bed...the bottom bed can have a tank run over it..
I can see the benefit of plywood though
hmmmm a thought, one could capture all the water draining  to the lower section and re use it as compost tea....

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Re: Bed Raising

Post  sanderson on 10/15/2014, 2:54 am

Jimmy,  There are 2 things I keep thinking about your situation.  One, you really like the Sherman tank-proof lower bed.  Two, there is a lot of dirt (?) to remove from the lower bed to get it totally off the ground.

Here's my input.  Are you planning to remove all the dirt?  If so, you will be able to check the health of the wood at that time to see if you can re-use it.  If it is still in good shape, re-use the lower frame and even the upper frame as your new elevated bed.

Set treated 4 x 6 or cinder blocks across the footprint, at both ends and every 18-24".  [If I remember, the bed is about 3 1/2 feet across and either 8-10 feet long.] This will be the hardest part because they have to be level with each other.  Then, lay heavy duty wire mesh (the kind that will leave criss-cut fries on your knees if you kneel on it) the same measurement of the footprint across the boards.  Lay a 3/4" - 1" PRE-drilled piece of plywood on top of the mesh.  Set weed fabric on top of the plywood to prevent the fill  and MM from washing through.  Get two strong young backs to help set your lower frame on top of it.  Then the lighter upper frame on the very top.  The metal side stakes may be unnecessary at this point unless you use them for some other reason.

Fill with your bottom material if you want.  That will save you from having to move it any further from the garden.  Just make sure there are no sizable roots left in the fill.  Some hair roots are okay as they will not "bud" and grow a little tree in the fill material.  Lay cheap weed fabric on top the fill and add back the MM.  Your end result will be something like this only larger:

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Re: Bed Raising

Post  jimmy cee on 10/15/2014, 9:30 am

Hi Sanderson and thanks for your input.
 This entire bottom section must stay put, it is attached to all my other beds with a narrow (12 inch) area against the fence. That in itself would mean a complete change which I am not willing to tackle.
Those bottom pieces are all treated lumber which even if they do decompose won't be in  my lifetime, all filled with my previous growing soil that's staying put.
There will be a gap ( 4-8/10/12 inches) between the bottom base and the top growing bed, it's 8" /71/2" that I'll use for my M.M.
I can also use this gap to store screens, covers, I only use when seasons change.
I like your idea of the 4x4s to support the top section, and 3/4 inch plywood with holes drilled.
I question the need for wire mesh under the plywood base ? Since I'll have a nice space there should be no problem with critters.
As far as those angle irons in the ground ? I once thought about removing them ,however I am extremely happy I never di as I use them for all types of a base for anything I want to add on top, besides their in the ground 4 feet.
I used them this season to make my hoops and enclosure which I'm going to redo also....
The top section will be bolted into those angle irons also...
It's also possible I just may raise these beds hi enough as not to need to bend to work on them..
It's starting to come together....
you can see how it's all tied together and also on each side

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Re: Bed Raising

Post  sanderson on 10/15/2014, 1:34 pm

Jimmy, Okay, the picture is getting clearer. I have to get going for the day (painting the rental), so this is just a quick reply with food for thought.

Anything stored under the raised bed will be dripped on. I learned the hard way. I only store pots under my tall raised beds. Putting some kind of Tea drip collection system will have to be engineered = more work.

Use 3/4" or 1" plywood for strength. My husband used 1/2" but I choose my battles. Boffer (If I remember correctly) recommends marine plywood. I'm hesitant because there has to be something in marine plywood that makes it more durable against wet rot. Personal preference.

The mesh is to save future work as the plywood starts to deteriorate. And it will deteriorate at some point. It's not for critter control in your case.

To KISS it, I would cover the lower fill with durable pervious material. Even 1/2" plywood with holes. Then set 4 x 6 or 4 x 4 treated cross logs*, flush with outer edges. top with mesh, thick drilled plywood, both flush to edges, reset the white frame, weed fabric to hold the MM, then fill. Wella. Done.

* If you want it taller, use 4 x 8 ($$) or extra 2x4s. Bye for now.

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Re: Bed Raising

Post  Marc Iverson on 10/15/2014, 3:37 pm

Jimmy, I like your idea of raising the bed kinda high for several reasons:

1. Infinitely easier on the back not to have to bend over so far, and that's a difference that really counts as we age. The less difficult gardening is, the more likely one is to want to keep doing it and not find excuses (or legitimate reasons) not to. It's worth bearing in mind, too, that just because one's back may be fine today does not mean it will be fine tomorrow. So building a raised bed high is nice "future-proofing" against the usual culprits we see in aging.

2. With age, people often lose their ability to balance, and peripheral neuropathy makes it harder to feel their feet and where and how they touch the ground. One can steady(or perhaps even catch) oneself on a raised bed when necessary, or, when it just makes reaching in to tend to a trellis or do some harvesting, easier. A bed planted low to the ground is more of a tripping hazard, and if you catch your fall on it, you may still get injured and your plants may still get damaged.

3. It would make your bed less safe and shaded underneath, and that would make it less of a prime habitat for critters ranging from slugs to rats.

4. It would make it less easy to get clogged up underneath by mud, leaves, or debris of any kind, and ...

5. ... if it did get clogged up, cleaning it out would be much easier than it would be if your bed was close to the ground.

6. It will be easier to check the bottoms and corners on a high bed, and some repairs might be a lot easier. There will be both more room and more light under a box that is raised higher.

7. If you want to, you can add later, or build in right away, storage areas under a raised bed.

Finally, I just like the looks of them. They look friendly. What I mean is, a bed raised to a level at which it is easy to work on without bending over is an invitation to tinker about at one's leisure and enjoy one's living creations.

A row garden or even a raised bed laid flat on the ground, or close to it, is an invitation to work. If you have a bad back like me, a low bed is even a threat! A threat that I might be sore later. It's still gardening, and that's great, but stooping and kneeling and bending way over are a totally different class of experiences than standing upright and doing everything the quick and easy way.


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Re: Bed Raising

Post  sanderson on 10/16/2014, 3:09 am

Number 2. I have found that just having the top rim to touch as I contort myself around boxes and under tall roses, etc., has been a big help with balance.

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Re: Bed Raising

Post  Judy McConnell on 10/16/2014, 7:16 am

Jimmy Cee , I really like your idea of raising the beds to "workable height"

Didn't understand that you would be keeping the ground level beds in place - took a couple of readings and others' comments for my seeing what you are planning.

This summer, I placed a tt on an existing bed to see if raising all the beds made sense.  It really made a difference in working with the plants in the tt and I would like to do the same as you are planning/doing.  Plus in my zone, additional light reached the tt, a plus.

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Re: Bed Raising

Post  jimmy cee on 10/16/2014, 9:37 am

@Judy McConnell wrote:Jimmy Cee ,

Didn't understand that you would be keeping the ground level beds in place - took a couple of readings and others' comments for my seeing what you are planning.
Hi Judy
I have this unique ability to list things I say, in such an order it's confusing for me when I re-read  it

Yes my original beds are all treated lumber, I figured at my age, that wasn't gonna get me.
So when I started SFG I just built on top, it actually was much easier than removing all that soil.
I'm kinda excited about doing this for if I can get back to last years success it will be worth it all.
I don't think it will ever end, there's always something to think about and redo.

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Re: Bed Raising

Post  jimmy cee on 10/16/2014, 12:59 pm

I disconnected the bed, raised it 4 inches, then raised to another 4 inches, actually 7-1/2 inches overall.
This comes to a total of 24 inches off the ground which I believe will be sufficient for me.
I don't want it to high and need to use a ladder....LOL...
Now am I going to use  two 4x4s ? one 8x8 ? , or a 2x8 for base supports.
I don't really like the idea of two pieces , (4x4s on top of each other) one on top of the other, 8x8 would be good, however I believe their expensive and hard to get.
An 8 foot piece of 2x8 treated may be the way to go, bracing them as I proceed.
I'll not need to be concerned about the top of the braces for they will be attached to the floor of the bed, the frame of the bed will be bolted back to the angle irons.
Bottom of the 2x8s can be secured with smaller pieces fastened to both parts.
Looks as if I am going to use 3/4 inch plywood for the beds floor.




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Re: Bed Raising

Post  sanderson on 10/16/2014, 3:10 pm

Jimmy, I think the parallel setting of the blocks is unstable. Or are you just dinking around right now? Use untreated 4 x 4 across (2 1/2') with treated 4 x 4 across on top of them. Or untreated 4 x 6" with a treated 2 x 4 on top. Keeping it cheap where cheap will work. This will give a set up to support the span of the plywood bottom. Place them every 18-24", including the ends. Once the weight of the filled upper bed is in place, everything should stay in place. Securing the sides of the upper box to the metal stakes should be sufficient.

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Re: Bed Raising

Post  jimmy cee on 10/16/2014, 7:07 pm

Sanderson
The way it's set up now was only for measuring purposes...
I never gave criss crossing a thought, great idea

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Re: Bed Raising

Post  jimmy cee on 10/18/2014, 10:30 am

After much time & consideration, I've decided on 2 x 8s for support spaced at 1 foot intervals.
I will be using a standard 6 inch wide decking floor covered with a few layers of weed barrier to hold back M.M.
 Holes in the decking for drainage, along with a small spacing between rows.
The ropes are temporarily holding up bed until secured.
The bottom will be covered with 2b limestone and cover open spaces with mesh wire to keep out pests.

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Re: Bed Raising

Post  sanderson on 10/18/2014, 2:23 pm

Jimmy, me again. If the 6" decking boards are going to be lengthwise, perpendicular to the cross braces, then holes may not be necessary. Mel mentions a hole in the center of each square and one in each corner. If you use a spacer to set the decking (such as a stirring stick for 5-gallon paint cans, 1/4" or so), that would be equivalent to holes 6" on center of each square. Spacing is important also because the planks will swell a bit when wet? Sort of like building a wood fence in the summer.

What is 2b limestone? Never mind, I just Binged it. The mesh will be like air vents for a pier and beam foundation? Or laid on the top edge of the 2 x 8 before the planks?? I love watching you create something. Very Happy

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Re: Bed Raising

Post  jimmy cee on 10/18/2014, 2:49 pm

@sanderson wrote:

What is 2b limestone?  Never mind, I just Binged it.  The mesh will be like air vents for a pier and beam foundation?  Or laid on the top edge of the 2 x 8 before the planks??  I love watching you create something. Very Happy
In western PA. there are limestone quarries that grind up stone in various sizes.
small (little larger than a pea is called 1B....next size is 2B, a little larger than a grape.
There are larger sizes, however I never had any experience with them, I know it goes up to 4B, maybe higher.
Limestone, river rock (river bed gravel) , is readily available any where I've been.
I'm gonna lay this limestone on top of the bottom soil, it should  help keep the yuckies away.
I was really surprised as to the condition of the weed barrier, after 1-1/2 years it was as good as when I laid it down.
I should be done with this week, have a bunch of rye seeds I'll plant for a cover crop.
Maybe I'll even get started on my cold frame before winter. This will be a bigger job

cold frame to be raised

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Re: Bed Raising

Post  jimmy cee on 10/22/2014, 5:19 pm

A couple of weeks ago as compared to now.
This stuff never ends for me.....
Thats not a complaint..."I love it"



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Re: Bed Raising

Post  sanderson on 10/22/2014, 8:54 pm

Would you look at You!!  

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Re: Bed Raising

Post  Judy McConnell on 10/23/2014, 7:29 am

Ooo - I love the finished product - great job!!

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Re: Bed Raising

Post  Marc Iverson on 10/23/2014, 2:38 pm

That should be easier on the back now!

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