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Is it ok to do beds deeper then 6"

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Is it ok to do beds deeper then 6"

Post  mrsmith on 3/9/2010, 11:35 am

Just wondering if it's ok to do beds 12" deep, or any depth for that matter, greater then 6" that is.

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6" beds

Post  choksaw on 3/9/2010, 11:48 am

From my understanding the 6" bed rule is more of a guideline as most plants only need 6" of soil to thrive but if you plan on planting any root crops a deeper bed is probably worth the extra effort and soil. I made my beds roughly 10 1/2" deep due to the fact that i plan on planting carrots radish's onions and garlic.

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Deep boxes

Post  jinx on 3/9/2010, 11:48 am

I'm new at this, so I'm sure some of the exerts here will jump in and either confirm or correct what I'm about to say...

Some of the large root veges, such as long carrots or potatoes need more depth, but for most of our home grown veges they only need 6" to grow. Using more depth isn't bad, but since you are putting money into making Mel's mix every inch is $'s you could be using else where or saving. I plan do have one 8-12" box for my bigger root veges, everything else I'm sticking to 6" cuze Mel said it will work!

Maybe the experts could confirm this... but if you have boxes with more then 6" of depth you could fill the first few inches with something not so expensive. I believe I heard a few people who were using bark and/or gravel. Then just fill the top 6" with Mel's mix. OR, you could use the extra top few inches to anchor in some sitting benches around the outsides of your boxes for easier access for planting and so forth.

Have fun!

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Re: Is it ok to do beds deeper then 6"

Post  Sonoran Garden on 3/9/2010, 11:54 am

I typed my reply below and when entering it I was prompted that two other posts were submitted while I was typing and the forum allowed me to modify my post! What an awesome forum we have here!!

You can go deeper if you want to but it is usually just more cost. Most situations don't need to be deeper unless you are growing carrots, potatoes, etc that may need deeper soil to grow in.

I am in the Arizona desert and I build 8 or 10 inch boxes. In the heat of the summer, you can water every day and your beds will still dry out if you have 6" deep beds so evaluate your situation and adjust accordingly.

I love the picture of the young girl on Mel's shoulders reaching as high as she can to the giant sunflower that is about 10 feet high - and it is growing in a bed with 5 1'2 inch deep soil.

SFG does work in 6 inches of soil unless you have challenging circumstances out of the normal.
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Re: Is it ok to do beds deeper then 6"

Post  timwardell on 3/9/2010, 12:01 pm

I agree with what the others are saying. 6" is all you need for most crops. If you want to plant potatoes or long carrots you'll need extra depth. You also might want extra depth if you are in a very hot area. Like Sonoran Garden I made my boxes deeper because of the heat. I'm not in the desert like he is, but Dallas gets pretty freakin' hot in the summer. That said, my system is a retro fit, meaning I had raised beds before I learned about SFG. This year I removed the top 6" of soil (dirt) from my 12" beds and replaced it with Mel's Mix. Now I have 6" of Mel's Mix on top of 6" of amended soil.

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Re: Is it ok to do beds deeper then 6"

Post  boffer on 3/9/2010, 12:30 pm

ditto ditto ditto ditto ditto ditto.....

but I'll offer this suggestion for down the road. Experienced row gardeners can be hard to convert to SFG because they've been taught for decades that deep is better, although most of them couldn't really tell you why.

I have gained a greater appreciation of why SFG works in shallow soil, by studying the root structures of plants when I harvest. The friability of Mel's mix makes it easy to push soil aside to see and follow the roots. One thing you'll find is that some plants have structures smaller than your hands. Others, like tomatoes, are quite content to send their roots sideways rather than down. Another thing, is that the better you water, the smaller the root structure will be. With a nutritious Mel's mix and ample water supply, there's no need for the plant to waste energy growing roots.

Understanding what is happening underground gave me another perspective to consider when I am planting, re-organizing, and tweaking my gardening methods.

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Re: Is it ok to do beds deeper then 6"

Post  mrsmith on 3/9/2010, 2:17 pm

wow, this forum is awesome, thanks for the timely responses.

I just ordered the download version of the dvd.



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Re: Is it ok to do beds deeper then 6"

Post  critterculler on 3/10/2010, 8:26 am

Hi, According to Mel at last weeks class, if you want to grow carrots or perhaps leeks all you have to do is make a 12"x12"x6" box and set it on top of the grid where you want the depth , fill it with mix and plant. Hope this helps. Seeya Phil


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Re: Is it ok to do beds deeper then 6"

Post  chocolatepop on 3/11/2010, 11:09 pm

Honestly, I use whatever wood I could find. Some were 6", some 10" and some 12". In the 12" on I use an additional high rise and planted potatoes.

So, you only "need" 6", but if i can get free wood, I'm taking it! Reduce, Reuse baby!

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Re: Is it ok to do beds deeper then 6"

Post  brownthumb on 4/26/2010, 5:11 pm

Oh no! I'm looking for a "don't worry, it will be ok" - but I built my box using 2.5 x 5.5 timber thinking that the dirt under the box will take care of the other .5 inch or so. I prepped the soil (mixing mel's mix with native soil), then added 5 inches of mel's mix on top of that ...

Did I completely mess this up? Now I'm wondering if I should double them up so it's double the height.


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Re: Is it ok to do beds deeper then 6"

Post  Wyldflower on 4/26/2010, 5:25 pm

no-no-no-no... don't worry, Brownthumb!

The nominal dimension of a 2x6 is actually 1-3/4" by 5-3/4" ... and that's what Mel recommends... so it'll be fine!

I'm using nominal 1x6 composite board - which is actually 7/8"x5-3/4"

As other people have mentioned, if you're doing a deeper root crop, you may want a deeper box, but for most stuff, this should be fine!

I do hope you're using a weed-barrier between the mel's mix and the soil underneath, though.

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Re: Is it ok to do beds deeper then 6"

Post  silverbug on 4/26/2010, 5:31 pm

Plants/nature will find their way. Unless you have beds on concrete, or elevated beds with floors, it's not finite. I feel blessed, as I put my beds over an existing, well tilled garden. I placed sheets of cardboard over (to squelch last years weeds) punched drainage holes in it, and I KNOW that anything that needs more room to go down, it's gonna root down, be them carrots, potatoes, whatever, though I'm not planting potatoes. I wouldn't worry too terribly much about it, and as the others said, the roots will thrive in the 6 inches, anything above and beyond that is excess...not necessarily bad excess, but not essential for healthy growth of plants.


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