How Can I Keep The Soil In My Raised Beds Moist?

Discussion in 'Gardening Other' started by NemaToad, May 13, 2009.

  1. NemaToad

    NemaToad New Seed

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    I originally switched to raised beds to make gardening easier and to get away from the standing water that troubles my yard in the Spring, but now I'm having the opposite problem in the heat of the Summer. My beds are 17 inches tall and when I built them, I filled them with some nice black dirt and worked in about a foot of Fall leaves. Now every Spring I work in about 2 inches of yard waste and kitchen scrap compost and when the beds are planted, mulch with newspaper and cover it with leaves and grass clippings.
    Over the years I've tried the granules that swell up with water and release it back to the plants and I've tried adding unscented cat litter to the beds and neither seem to really hold much moisture. I still have to water every 2-4 days to keep the soil moist.
    My latest thought is wood chips. I have a huge pile of branches out back and a wood chipper/shredder. Would the wood chips absorb and hold enough moisture to be of help? I know that they will take nitrogen from the soil to break down, but what if I add them in the Fall along with some nitrogen fertilizer?

    John
     
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  2. arv

    arv Seedling

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    You could use wood scraps to hold the water longer as in Hugelkulture beds , check the link on Hugelkulture . I believe if the wood is a bit rotten it will hold more water .
    Or else you can use 'ollas ' , clay pots that aredug into the soil next to plant , follow the article and the linkd to learn about ollas here
     
  3. dickm

    dickm New Seed

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    Have you considered drip irrigation? It is very easily installed and controlled and can consist of drippers that put the water directly on the root area or small spray heads for the foliage. Hook it up to a timer and there is not much else for you to do.
     
  4. NemaToad

    NemaToad New Seed

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    I have thought of drip irigation dickm, but with 16 beds it would get pretty pricey to set up. It's not the getting of water on the beds that I have a problem with, it's keeping them moist for a longer time before I have to apply water again.

    John
     
  5. tillacat

    tillacat New Seed

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    Keeping water in garden beds

    I haven't tried this yet, but I had a friend tell me to try taking milk jugs and poking pin holes in the bottom so the water seeps out very slowly. Then place them throughout the garden.
     
  6. Jewell

    Jewell Incorrigible Gardener Plants Contributor

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    Those are beautifully constructed beds. How wide are they?
     
  7. Tooty2shoes

    Tooty2shoes Young Pine

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    One other thing you might do is put down about 3 or 4 sheets of newspaper on both sides of your plant row. Soak it with water and then you can cover it with chopped straw, grass clipping, wood mulch ect. Water that well and it should help to keep the moisture in the soil better. Plus the newspaper acts as a weed block and is also good food for your plants. Or you could just us shredded newspaper as mulch. Hope that helps some. :stew1: