Help and Advice for Planning Garden Beds

Posted on Feb 1 2010 - 5:45am by Mike Lieberman

This spring season, I plan to use some of the garden beds in the backyard vegetable garden at my Grandmother’s.

I got her approval and documented in the video below, but I’m sure that she’ll still have some complaints about it.

There are four beds that measure approximately 4×2, 4×6 (which has a little bit of moss growing on it), 4×4 and 4×4. I’ve seen some of the stuff that my Grandmother has put in her soil, so I’d definitely like to mineralize and amend it.

The plan that I had was to till it and add compost, seaweed and horse manure once the weather warmed up.

The questions that I currently have are:

  • Is there anything else that I should do to mineralize the soil?
  • Should I be worried about the moss? If so, what should I do
  • Is there anything else that I can do now or should be aware of?

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PErx1227H8Y

24 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. amy February 1, 2010 at 6:04 am -

    I don't live up north… So I'm not sure if Moss is a sign of poor drainage. Here we add cotton hulls or Pecan shells to help with that. I'm sure that any nut shell would work, we just have a lot of pecan trees so they are easy to come by. NOW I a some what beginner gardener so you might what to ask around about before doing this. (however it seems to be working for me) Good Luck… Amy

  2. Mike Lieberman February 1, 2010 at 7:01 am -

    Thanks for the tip Amy. Someone else told me that moss is a side of a shady spot.

  3. Nunya_Bidniz February 1, 2010 at 8:10 am -

    first get your soil tested, then you will know what amendments are needed.
    OR – build raised beds and don't worry about tilling – you just buy good garden dirt from Walmart or whoever and plant away. You may want to invest in some drip hose – doesn't waste water and keeps away some of the diseases that result from wet leaves.

  4. Nunya_Bidniz February 1, 2010 at 8:11 am -

    Moss means poor drainage and shade – get plants/seeds that don't need full sun and by all means use raised beds, maybe w/a little sand at the bottom to keep drainage going good. Plants don't like wet feet.

  5. Mike Lieberman February 1, 2010 at 9:13 am -

    Thanks. Not sure about the raised beds. Will def consider it though. I'll just have to super mineralize the soil and hope for the best.

  6. RawDamon February 1, 2010 at 1:55 pm -

    I've been getting ready too. Among other things the raised beds make it easier to get going every year. If you have access to lots of dirt…do the raised beds for your peppers and veggies. Put your summer greens in the shadier spots in the ground so they don't bolt on ya. Mine hated the beds last summer. We put down large chicken wire to keep cats out while we're getting the seedlings going, it's cheap and works great! (cats LOVE fresh dirt…) Looks like you're going to have a great run this year Mike…

  7. Amanda February 1, 2010 at 3:12 pm -

    I've heard “The Organic Manual: Natural Gardening for the 21st Century” by J. Howard Garrett is a really good book. I'm reading one of his Texas specific books and Garrett recommends soil testing to amend your particular patch. Perhaps your local extension office or university offers soil testing? I'm new to gardening and can't wait to poke around your blog… Good luck!

  8. Mike Lieberman February 1, 2010 at 3:41 pm -

    Thanks. I'm really avoiding reading gardening books because I've found most to be boring and have put down after 5 pages. I'd prefer to use trial and error to see what happens. Might consult some books though. Thanks for the tip on that one.

  9. Mike Lieberman February 1, 2010 at 3:42 pm -

    Thanks Damon. I've considered the raised beds, but think I want the challenge of fixing that horrendous soil.

  10. Fern @ Life on the Balcony February 2, 2010 at 11:25 pm -

    I think the moss might be a sign that the soil doesn't drain very well and/or that the spot doesn't get full sun.

  11. Mike Lieberman February 3, 2010 at 7:27 am -

    To help it drain add perlite or sand?

  12. RawDamon February 4, 2010 at 7:27 am -

    I'm kinda envious. The soil where I am is plentiful and beyond perfect…and usually free! I do hope to earn some land someday here to practice my soil building skills with. Bet it wouldn't be hard to find a volunteer eh?
    Perlite for the best drainage….vermiculite for water/air holding combo, I do know that. Fun project!

  13. Mike Lieberman February 4, 2010 at 8:09 am -

    Yes should be a fun project and great to be outdoors again once it warms up.

  14. Jayme February 18, 2010 at 8:11 am -

    I agree with Nunya_Bidniz in testing the soil first. We get lots of moss up here in the Northwest in the shady areas, regardless of drainage issues. Raised beds all the way. You don't even have to build a structure just mound the soil about 6-8 inches. Best of luck Mike!

  15. Jayme February 18, 2010 at 8:13 am -

    Raised beds and compost, compost, compost.

  16. Mike Lieberman February 18, 2010 at 6:50 pm -

    I'm thinking of something like without the structure. Maybe dig up the existing soil up a bit and then piling stuff on top like you said.

  17. Mike Lieberman February 18, 2010 at 6:51 pm -

    Cool. Definitely want to do as much of my own composting as possible and think I found a spot where I can get the horse manure for free as well.

  18. Mike Lieberman February 19, 2010 at 2:50 am -

    I'm thinking of something like without the structure. Maybe dig up the existing soil up a bit and then piling stuff on top like you said.

  19. Mike Lieberman February 19, 2010 at 2:51 am -

    Cool. Definitely want to do as much of my own composting as possible and think I found a spot where I can get the horse manure for free as well.

  20. Pam February 27, 2010 at 2:32 pm -

    Hi,
    I love your site. Not sure when you posted the pictures of your grandmothers beds, but I suspect the place with moss growing is more damp and less sunny than the rest. It may not support many vegetables without more sun. However, if it just gets a little early morning sun, for instance, you could use that area as a seedling nursery during the summer. Start a second crop of stuf like spinach that enjoys cool weather then transplant into sunnier areas in fall when it's cooler.

  21. Mike Lieberman February 27, 2010 at 3:54 pm -

    Thanks for the advice. Will definitely consider that. I still need to amend the soil and all…once this damned snow clears.

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