Raised and Layered Gardens

Several years ago I took over the Community Garden in my little town. The park it was to be moved to had been an old railroad yard and while nice and level the soil was beyond a quick fix. The garden site itself was where some 30 years before they had tried to build a skate rink but it never held water, so not only was there the coal, creosote, and diesel fuel in the soil there was a layer of hard packed clay. Raised beds were the best option.
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After consideration the decision was made to make them taller than average so we could put n straw bales with soil on top. The idea was to make it easier for those who could not easily bend down or kneel on the ground to be a part of the garden.
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Ten yards of top soil was brought in to top off the straw bales and to make larger lower bed we fondly named the squash bed as that was what we put in it that year.
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The beds below and those above both exploded with growth and over flowed. The weeding was easily taken care of and the garden days were mostly afternoons gathered around a BBQ and soaking up the sun. The sun flowers that year towered up over 12 feet.
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Year two the straw bales held out and we just added thick course mulch between bale ends and the bed walls, with compost on top and planted and again the growth was stunning. The heritage tomatoes took over the garden early on and kept producing well into September. With the beds sunk down by fall the base of the plants were well into the box and protected from fall frost so that I was picking fresh tomatoes into mid October. (quite impressive for this climate)
spring Back Prince Tomatoes 2011
Year three we dug out the ends of each bed in a double dig style to put in new bales and moved the rich new soil back on top.
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We had enough extra to pass it on to local elderly, family’s in need and sell some in the local Feed Supply Store.
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It is year four now and the beds are holding up. We added the rough compost to one bed and the rich loam to the tops.
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in the empty bed we began a layered compost. Leaves, well wet down, cardboard, (worms LOVE cardboard) move leaves and on upward.
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All of it needs to be wet down and kept damp for a good fast composting action.
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The year is looking up as seeds are in the ground, and the sun is out. We hope this year to repeat the bounty of the garden.
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