Building Raised Beds

Back to building raised beds, so I added a third row of block to my 6×6 concrete bed:

6x6 raised bed

6×6 raised bed

I only managed 2 rows of block plus fill before 40 inches of snow at the end of December.



This photo shows some dead wood I tossed in to make a second layer of decomposing wood.  The first 16 inches has another layer of wood.  These dead pieces soak water up like a sponge and plant roots work into the woods for water.

Hugelkultur is a form of raised beds and soil enrichment that comes from northern lands where there are few deciduous trees to donate leaves for compost.  The northern taiga is perfect for this.  So is my pinyon-juniper food forest in New Mexico’s mountains.

The vast forests of the Pacific Northwest, with their high rainfall turns every fallen giant into a Hugelkultur bed covered with moss, lichen, fern, rhododendrons, and blueberries and huckleberries, plus more delights.  When I planted my blueberries here in New  Mexico, I created a deadwood-filled hugelkulture bed.  Raised, of course.

Many of the nutrients are leached out of the soil in the Pacific Northwest’s heavy rains, but logs decompose slowly and hold nutrients for their piggybacking forest plants.  During the Pacific Northwest’s dry summers, these decomposing logs also hold water for the moisture-loving plants that live on them.

Few gardeners in the Pacific Northwest mimic the forest’s ways of handling both torrential amounts of water followed by summer drought every year, but it works better than any other system I have seen.  It is also a no maintenance method of both watering and fertilizing your beds.  Nothing like an entire tree for adding organic matter.

So whether you have a 130 foot Douglas fir or limbs fallen from a 20 foot Pinyon Pine, burying the dead wood in your flower beds or vegetable garden benefits you and the plants.

Tomorrow I will empty bags of pine needles and fall leaves that I picked up from a friend in Albuquerque.  To top it off and dribble into the holes, I will continue to dig out the cutout where my partly underground cabin will be and use that soil to fill.

I also moved 4 concrete blocks for the raised bed adjacent to this one.  I intended to match the patio beds at 24 inches width, but went with 32 inches instead.

32 inches narrows the pathway between the two beds and discourages adding potted plants along the wider path.  Cannot imagine who would be tempted by extra pots, but I just blocked the idea!



About rebeccatreeseed

I am a naturalist raised by naturalists. Treeseed is my earned name, while Rebecca is my birth name. I am of Northern European descent, with a quarter Irish.quarter thrown in. I suspect I was a product of northern invaders into Ireland into Ireland. but hard to say since DNA disproved the family story about Apache blood! I have found some odd ancestors to replace them. Last year I bought 5 acres of pinyon-juniper forest on the side of a mountain in Santa Fe County, New Mexico. I am fulfilling a lifetime dream of a cabin in the mountains and a food forest that will feed me and local wildlife. I want to share this new phase of my life with others that might be interested.
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8 Responses to Building Raised Beds

  1. jgeerlings says:

    Those beds appear built to last. Good luck!

  2. Jgeerlings
    thanks! I have more concrete than dirt around here! It will keep rabbits and voles out, anyway. When I get done, I will have a fairly large raised garden… and concrete walkways between. Not that I would ever choose concrete like that, but I am working with what I have! It is turning out pretty good. Raised beds will extend my season, too.

  3. Bean Counter says:

    Those beds are the bomb. Appreciate the PNW reference. Will take it and run with it. 😉

  4. Bean Counter
    That was for you! I am glad you will try it. Make sure it is older dry wood, fresh wood needs to age for best results. It helps that I know your area.

    • Bean Counter says:

      Absolutely! I have the perfect place and materials for just such a setup. Will start it this year hoping it will be ready next year. Looked at my newer area and it is zone 8 with all kinds of microclimates thereabouts. Should be PRIME GRADE A growing biome. Got gurney’s seed catalog today. They have a ton of fruit and berry plants. Will plant some of those next year. May need some guidance? 😉

  5. Bean Counter
    Sweet! Hugelkultur beds are best starting in their second year. I will have fun talking over your choices with you. Microclimates are wonderful things and stretch your possibilities.

  6. Your blog is as inspirational as it is educational. I had no idea that you can fill a raised bed with waste timber (sorry – not “waste”, I mean timber for recycling). I can’t begin to tell you what battles I have with gardeners here in Egypt over the removal (or not) of leaves, twigs, or indeed anything compostable, organic and potentially nutrient-filled that falls onto the beds. As fast as they remove them, I try to return them – by stealth, if necessary, via the compost heap. But to fill my raised beds with this glorious stuff: what a coup that would be! Thank you for writing, and I follow your life in New Mexico with the greatest interest.

  7. Hi Sylvia
    Hang in there. Even running it through the extra step of composting is wonderful. Of course, just keeping it in the bed is easier. Still, notice that I am hauling extra compost from friends in Albuquerque… and feeling a bit guilty about taking their soil enrichment away from them. They all buy compost in plastic bags from the box stores. Once I convince them of the beauty of composting, there goes my extra supplies. I am planting deciduous trees so by then I may have my own supply. I also use wildflowers after they die back.

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