Wire Underneath Raised Garden Bed Can Foil Moles

by Ms. Grow-It-All on April 20, 2011

in Weekly Column Archive

Q: I’m planning a raised vegetable garden bed in my backyard. I’ve never done this before so I’m not sure about the bottom of the bed. Do I put a bottom in the bed? If so, should I use wood, plastic or what? My concern is based on the fact that my yard has a lot of moles and I’m sure they would love the bed.

A: Good for you for starting a vegetable garden! Raised beds are a good method because you’re not limited by the quality of the soil in your yard; you control what you fill the bed with. A mix of topsoil, peat and composted cow manure makes a fine garden soil.

You can build a frame with sides of wood or other material, or you can simply mound the soil and slope the sides. Either method will also net you improved drainage. However, if you’re trying to keep varmints out, you’ll probably be better off building something with sides. Treated lumber lasts longer than untreated, but there’s a risk the chemicals used to treat it will leach into the soil. Some of the composite materials made from recycled products have had good reviews.

As for the bottom, I would not use plastic or wood. You want the water to soak into the soil and down into the subsoil, and solid, non-porous materials will prevent that. I suggest you lay hardware cloth down across the bottom of your raised bed before you fill it with soil, leaving a few inches extra all the way around. Push the excess up along the sides of the frame. You could staple it or simply let the soil hold it in place. The small mesh will keep out the moles. Chicken wire would probably work, too, but the holes in the mesh are larger.

Hot peppers for a good cause: James Graves and Native Nurseries have partnered to sell “ghost peppers” to benefit the Godby High School band. The small hot peppers are purported to be even hotter than habaneros. Stop by the nursery and pick up a pack of seeds so the band can keep the music coming.

Website re-launch: Finally, my redesigned website is up and running! Check it out at www.msgrowitall.com. It features a calendar of regional gardening events, as well as links to Blog Talk Radio and the Tallahassee Democrat. There’s also a place for reader-submitted photos.

Internet radio show: Join us for Ms. Grow-It-All’s Internet radio show this week for a conversation with Leon County/University of Florida forester Stan Rosenthal about garden lingo. The show airs live at 5 p.m. today. If you can’t join us live at www.blogtalkradio.com/ms_grow-it-all, you can download a podcast of the program from my Web site, www.msgrowitall.com.

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