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Dear Jane Polywood (and thoughts on raised beds)

  • Subject: [cg] Dear Jane Polywood (and thoughts on raised beds)
  • From: Don Boekelheide <dboekelheide@yahoo.com>
  • Date: Fri, 9 Jul 2004 10:58:10 -0700 (PDT)

Dear Jane,

I understand your postition, I have similar
responsibilities at ACGA as editor of the Greening
Review. You believe in what you are doing, and you
want to get the word out.

This forum may seem an ideal place to push your

It's not.

If you are a community gardener (as I hope you are),
please let us know about how _you_ are making raised
beds and enjoying the results.

If your company wants to support community gardens
through a donation of money or materials, including
your product, that's great; I encourage you to contact
our board through the ACGA website. 
Why don't you set up some demonstration sites - a
grant? - where your firm provides materials and a
community or school garden group uses your product to
demonstrate how well it works for raised beds or
compost bins.

That said, I politely encourage you (and other folks
with things to sell) to keep this listserv
non-commercial. OK? Besides - fair warning - some
folks feel so strongly about this issue that they may
go out of their way avoid products that try to
advertise here.

Now, about raised beds: I've seen some useful
applications of 'board- sided' raised beds, especially
for handicapped access, though cinderblock also works
very well and has some advantages. Otherwise, I don't
like 'board beds'. They are right-angled boxes admidst
curving natural shapes, with all the aesthetic appeal
of a Hummer parked in the middle of a Henry Moore
sculpture garden. 

'Raised bed' means 'raised', not 'boxed'. You don't
need anything to create the simplest raised bed; you
simply pile the soil higher in the middle. Alan
Chadwick/John Jeavons beds are true raised beds. To
border or build up beds, I prefer local natural
materials easily shaped into curves. Around here,
that's cheap granite or field stone ($12 ton, select
your own from the pile at the quary). 

My favorite story of shaping garden beds is when David
Hawkins and the kids at Berkeley's Edible Schoolyard
formed garden beds by holding hands to outline big
organic shapes. They then defined them using chunks of
parking lot rubble and other stone to mark the edges.
Try that with polywood or CCR treated lumber.

So, while maybe there's a place for plastic wood, and
it certainly beats CCR, there are plenty other better
and cheaper ways to raise beds or make terraces in the

Don Boekelheide
Charlotte NC

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