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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I need some ideas. I'm starting with nothing and want to grow a garden. My plan is to pick up some treated lumber (2x4 or 4x4) and make beds above ground. My house sits in a place with no top soil to speak of. How should I prepare the soil? When should I prepare the soil?
 

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Treated lumber is treated with heavy metals and toxic, toxic stuff, I would not advise using it for an organic garden. Regular lumber will rot eventually, but it'll last a few years at least.

Does it have any soil, clay or sand or what's it got going on?

It's easy enough to throw some boards up and buy top soil to fill it.
 

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You might be interested in 'square foot gardening'. There are books and online resources that deal with it. I followed it as a first time gardener and have generally had very good results. Some plants are more conducive than others. It's good for places where the soil is less than ideal. You build the beds on top, lay down weed cloth, then fill with a blend of different composts, peat and course vermiculite. This is the backyard at my parents place. As you can see, the soil is awful, but I built the bed on top of it, and it worked out well.

 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
OK, well, my house sits on a lot where, when they were building it they pushed all my topsoil across the street to level the lots out. The lot where my house sits was a hill. So, my yard is grass and red clay. It took a lot of work to get a stand of grass. I have used a mulching mower for ten years and have just enough on top of the siol and at the roots of the grass so it survives. I have planted some trees. To get them to live I dug big holes and mixed in mulch and compost, then planted the trees. If you just dig a hole and stick the tree in the roots will rot because the clay soil holds water too long.

So, what I'm thinking is building a couple of 8 foot long, 4 foot wide boxes that sit up off of the ground about 4 inches. Then mixing the top few inches of earth with copious mulch, compost and horse poop (This young lady has horses and has offered all the poop I want. That's how you know you've made it in the world.). I was thinking about doing that pretty soon and letting it sit through winter, you know, to get the spiritual and emotional future vegetable juices going. (Clearly I haven't got a clue....sh!t.)

Anyway, that's kinda where I'm at. I feel ya on the toxic, grow an arm out of your back, chemicals in the treated lumber. I guess I was thinking that the chemicals would give the onions and cucumbers a nice salty taste so all I would need to do is add vinegar. Maybe I was hoping that it would be like licking a frog, you know, a poor man's acid trip. But, seriously..
 

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we use concrete bricks for our raised beds, found them for free on craigslist.

they work great and don't need to be replaced like wood does.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Bricks.. I had not even thought outside of the lumber box on this one. My father-in-law used railroad ties for his garden(s). I'm sure there is some nice chemicals there, make your bung hole grow shut..
 

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There is a man in Houston who started an urban garden in the ghetto so the residents could help in the garden and have fresh produce. His name is Joe Icet. It is called the Last Organic Outpost. You can Google him. I am sure he would probably be happy to answer any questions you have. He has had the outpost for years.
 

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I started with the square foot gardening last year due to our limited growing season and limited sunny areas in my yard.

If I find the book I'll list the growing mix the book recommends.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I have planted my tomato seeds. I have decided to go with a garden planted in large plastic containers rather than digging up the yard this year. I'm planting tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, carrots, onions, etc.. I could dig up the yard and plant a great big garden but, there's just the two of us and it will be far more than we could eat. I am so ready for a home grown tomato sandwich. I planted the beefeater seeds. Those are great sandwich tomatoes. Big, tasty, red, beautiful, tomatoes. One slice will cover a whole slice of bread. Store bought tomatoes have nothing on these big suckers.
 

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I hope your gardening adventure goes well. Our family is trying to do a small vegetable garden in our yard this year as well. Since we don't have a huge amount of money to invest in it, we've had our eyes out for things we can improvise with. My brother and I stumbled across this photo online (it's not ours) and we think we might try it. They used an old pallet from a store to plant their things in.

 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
That is a sweet lookin little garden. Who knew shipping pallets could be used to make a garden. This last summer the Contractor on the construction site I worked on threw out about a gazillion of these things.
 

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my aunt turned us on to lasagna gardening here in Georgia, because of our crap Georgia clay dirt. she was having trouble with the limestone ozark dirt and both of our gardens seem to be thriving. i think this is also called 'sheet gardens'. pick an area you want to have as your garden and lay down a layer of newsprint. water it in. then you build on top, ever repeating. peat moss, water it in, organic matter (compost) water it in, grass clippings, water it in, topsoil, water it in, repeat and repeat until it's about 12-16 inches high. then for the final layer, put some dry material on top. we used oak leaves. it's suggested that it take a season for your beds to cook down into rich lovely perfect dirt, but with some aggressive modifications (we put a new layer on every day) they could be ready in time for summer/fall season. in a perfect scenario, the lasagna beds are too hot for weeds to grow through, and it wouldn't need to be tilled. one of our friends works for Farmer D Organics and they seem to do steady business selling prefab box/raised gardens. perhaps check out something similar in your area?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Just want to say that my tomatoes are looking awesome. I will be flush with wonderful homegrown tomatoes soon and loving the tomato sandwiches. I can't wait. Woopie!!!
 
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