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Raised Bed System With 2-Wheel Tractor


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#1 sundogfarmer OFFLINE  

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Posted June 13, 2013 - 10:19 AM

I am a market gardener and am planning to invest in a 2 wheel walk behind tractor, probably a BCS or Grillo.

 

I want to utilize a system with raised beds where the tractor wheels can run in the pathway. I am thinking right now that I would use a rotary plow attachment to shape the beds, then use axle extensions and a rototiller attachment to straddle the bed a prepare the seedbed. I figure the beds can be a little bit under 30" wide.

 

Can anyone out there share their experience with such a system? Or think of any reasons why it might not work?

 

Thanks!


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#2 Alc ONLINE  

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Posted June 13, 2013 - 10:39 AM

Welcome to GTTalk sundogfarmer !   Sounds like it would work  with a walkbehind  you would have to straddle the 30" bed to keep your feet , maybe a sulky with wide wheels would be the ticket.   I'm looking foward to see what others say , Al



#3 sundogfarmer OFFLINE  

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Posted June 13, 2013 - 11:17 AM

Thanks!

 

The BCS tractors have adjustable handle bars so you can swivel them off at a 45 degree angle. So that way I'd be able to walk in the pathway when straddling the bed. Hopefully it wouldn't be too cumbersome to guide from that sort-of-awkward angle.


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#4 shorty ONLINE  

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Posted June 13, 2013 - 12:36 PM

:welcometogttalk: Welcome Sundogfarmer!!

I am trying raised beds for the first time this year. I made them after I had tilled the final time. I had trouble with root crops like onions rotting off if we had late summer heavy rains, which we had now for the last years.  I don't know how well the bed shape will stay in place for next year. I kind of figured I will have to remake them for next year.


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#5 Lauber1 OFFLINE  

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Posted June 13, 2013 - 01:09 PM

You haven't said what the size of your "garden' is. If you are in a bigger market garden plot, then the standard bed would be 60 or 66" wide. You can divide that by putting a middle buster in the center of a tool bar and thus make your 30" ones. I did the truck crop thing on 15 acres for yrs, but to make beds and cultivate i used a smaller full sized tractor set for 30" rows, which would give you 60" roughly between the wheels. The tractor wheels make the row marker by just driving back down the same track for the next bed.  I also used walk behinds to do some of the work in the beds.

 

The only trouble i see is the BCS or Grillo tractors are expensive, and they dont have any real ground clearance for getting over the top of the crop. You also have to buy more stuff if you want to get any other uses out of them.  You could repower almost any old two wheeled tractor cheaper, and have flexabltiy in the tooling.  If your on a tiny plot then you can just use wheel hoes or a hand tool to keep the weeds down, but i'd rather have a tractor to cut down on the time.

 

If all you need the tractor for is making beds then i'd look into going with something old school that was dirt cheap. By the time you figure out all the hours you have in preping, growing and getting the food to market, your not making a whole lot of money, and starting with less expensive machines is going to help you get though the part of the yr where you cant grow veggies to sell.


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#6 JD DANNELS OFFLINE  

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Posted June 13, 2013 - 01:40 PM

We have not gotten into the Market arden thing yet(maybe when I retire). But have over 7,000 Sq ft of garden (Jo cans like crazy and we share with family)  and do most of it in wide rows about 36".  Untill this year I was doing it all with a rototiller and Rake.  The 36" beds work well, over that get's hard to reach to the center to work.  I can get anywhere from 4 rows of onions on top, to two or three rows of tomatoes and cabbage like plants.

 The new Two Wheelers cost a lot and the Implements add up to astronomical quick. Nothing wrong with the BCS-Grillo machines, they were not in my budget.  So I bought a Ford 1500(20hp) (that was a Compact when new, but would now be considered a Sub Compact). It weighs just over 2,000 lbs and soil compaction can be a concern.

 As Lauber said I made the beds with the middlebuster. By Driving one direction and coming back with my wheels alongside the mound,  pushing the soil to the center there was very little raking to level the beds.

 

If I were working with a Two Wheel I think I would want to roll the soil from left to right and then from right to left to form the bed and run the machine in the tracks between the beds. My thinking is after you have worked to get  nicely  tilled loose soil to grow plants in , why run a machine over it and compact the soil?

 As far as the Swiveling of the handle bars so you stay off the beds, that is a great feature. Years ago I had a Gilson Tiller with that and i liked it a lot.


Edited by JD DANNELS, June 13, 2013 - 01:46 PM.

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#7 sundogfarmer OFFLINE  

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Posted June 14, 2013 - 10:48 PM

Lauber:

I'm on about 2 acres. So a 4 wheel tractor seems a little excess to my needs, but using a wheel hoe only isn't feasible. I also like the 2 wheelers for weight consideration. JD DANNELS mentioned soil compaction and that is a factor, especially since I'm in the rainy Pacific NW. I could get into my field much earlier with the lighter equipment. Though if I were to expand my operation I'd probably do something like you suggested with the 4 wheel and middle buster.

 

 

I'll look into older models, though. Any suggestions on older 2 wheel tractors with good implement availability that could produce raised beds? I picked up an old Simplicity a year ago for cheap, but can't find any implements for it.



#8 CADplans OFFLINE  

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Posted June 14, 2013 - 11:01 PM

My question is how much profit is available from your 2 acres to sink in equipment? Or is this a gentleman's venture?

 

BCS can take several years of profit from 2 acres, just for starter equipment.

 

I am not one to sink money into a venture up front. 

 

Get an old Gravely, produce the money. Then look at what is on the market at that time. Heck, they may be producing the Wiz-Bang Laser Weed Zapper by then!!   :dancingbanana:

 

Also, remember, we are all getting older. In just a few years, that sit down machine will be looking mighty good!!

 

I ran a pretty good sized metal fab business for 12 years. I bought two used Yale fork trucks. After 12 years, I sold them for exactly $300 total less than the two cost. 

 

Toy, or, tool?  :tapping_fingers:


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#9 Cat385B ONLINE  

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Posted June 15, 2013 - 07:38 AM

Depending on availability in your area, Gravely would be a fine choice.

 

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#10 sundogfarmer OFFLINE  

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Posted June 15, 2013 - 08:09 PM

I just read a bit about Gravely and it sounds like they had a front PTO rotary plow which might be feasible. Though it also sounds like it might be more difficult to use. Anyone used that particular implement?

 

Also, can I use a Gravely in a raised bed system I described in the OP? Raised beds are important for me because I hope to do lots of winter growing and ground root storage and I want to keep the plants out of the water during our rainy winters.



#11 Lauber1 OFFLINE  

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Posted June 16, 2013 - 10:41 PM

lots of good points made all around in here. I think the gravely were well built, but lack any real ground clear to be able to go over row crops. Tractors like an A farmall, or a G allis were built just for truck work, but lack good hydrolics and cant run a pto tillers. I'd look at going with an older but not ancient unit like a 1910 model Ford and a 48" tiller. You could have 2, 24" beds made at one shot. The tractors are way less than the BCS units and offer cat 1 3pts, for which any number of tooling could be built to fit your needs exactly. If you want to stay with a garden tractor, then i would look for something that has no less than a 16" drive tire, so you can get up above. Using a raised bed will defeat a lot of smaller 12" tired unit, because the bed take up the space it in a hurry. I'm sure there are several other choices out, in the 4 wheel machines, as almost every brand built a compact tractor at one point in time.  



#12 sundogfarmer OFFLINE  

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Posted June 16, 2013 - 11:03 PM

CADPlans: Good points. I have been doing the market gardening thing for 3 years now and a new BCS would be partly financed by reinvested profits from those years. But I'm basing the investment on the hope that these things are built to last for 20+ years. And also that having the right equipment will increase profits (no hiring custom operators, no poor seed beds, etc)

 

My preference is almost always to buy used equipment but this might be an exception. I'm just not finding the right equipment used in my area and I'm not competent at fabricating tools and parts. I can do engine work OK, but don't really like doing it. It's time consuming for me and to do anything during the growing season is near impossible. So if I get an old one and it requires work mid-season that's a big problem.


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#13 CADplans OFFLINE  

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Posted June 16, 2013 - 11:21 PM

sundog, I understand, but, do the math, $20K in new equipment divided by 20 years (VERY optimistic!!) is $1,000 per year or $500 per acre. EVERY year, for 20 years.

 

Sure, my math is off, make it what you want. The only numbers you have given is 2 acres, 20 years and 0 breakdowns.

 

I think with oil, filters, tires, tines, wear parts, off season service, $500 per acre may be low.

 

I have been doing this hobby since 1976, 3 TroyBilts, more than a half dozen Gravelys, countless other machines.

 

I am just trying to share data with you. 

 

An acre of the right crop, $500 is nothing, I get 1000 pounds of tomatoes out of four - 40 foot rows, I can not imagine what an acre would produce.

 

I know of a farm that supports 6 families off 13 acres. They also use lots of hired help.


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#14 Alc ONLINE  

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Posted June 17, 2013 - 05:47 AM

Would a bed shaper be something to consider ? Pulled by a compact  or full size tractor maybe ? At one time I thought asbout making a scaled down version for my garden  but it even then it might not be worth the trouble ,my garden is too small , I just try getting by with the single gang disk throwing the dirt in the middle for my sweet potato bed

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