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TT's plywood vs. hardware cloth, etc.

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TT's  plywood vs. hardware cloth, etc. Empty TT's plywood vs. hardware cloth, etc.

Post  llama momma on 2/24/2012, 1:46 pm

Can someone please explain the practical difference between a TT having a simple untreated/reinforced plywood bottom vs. hardware cloth/weed barrier/reinforcements? It seems like more work is involved with h. cloth, weed barrier, etc. Here I thought a plain untreated plywood bottom with some reinforcements was enough say on a 4by4ft TT. Is it a personal choice or is one version found to be better than the other?
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Post  UnderTheBlackWalnut on 2/24/2012, 2:35 pm

Hey llama momma - I really hope the TT king makes an appearance in this thread...but...here are my thoughts..

I see hardware cloth being used for boxes ON THE GROUND quite a bit as a critter deterrent that will still drain well and allow the ability to put stakes or rebar down into the native soil, or run irrigation tubes up...

I've seen Boffer use hardware cloth on boxes HE RAISES OFF the ground because he is in a climate where the hardware cloth is going to last him a lot longer than wood. This takes a little more hardware know-how to get right, as I remember a thread he posted with "right way" and "not-so-right way" pictures and the not-so-right way was definitely sagging. Smile

I've seen folks use plywood (I'm one of them) for boxes RAISED OFF the ground because I think it's a little simpler for us to put together if we want to have the boxes raised, provides a stable bottom, is detailed in the book, and we can still get drainage. I'm not sure I've seen too many people say they use plywood for boxes ON THE GROUND, probably because hardware cloth stands a much better chance of lasting longer, and most people who put boxes on the ground aren't necessarily trying to avoid their native soil, but I don't know.

I can't speak to cost, but am hoping the TT king will come in and speak to that.

All in all - I think it's a decision based on your handiman skills and tools, your personal preference, your climate, whether your boxes are raised or not, and what the reasons are that you need a box bottom. Smile
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Post  llama momma on 2/24/2012, 3:03 pm

Hiya UTB. Walnut,
Thanks! I've got hardware cloth on all the ground boxes, just trying to get my first TT right the first time out, especially before the couple of hundred (wet) pounds of weight go in. Mel certainly doesn't make a fuss over the TT plywood bottom in the book. So I suppose I shouldn't, either. But - Did you attach some kind of a center support? At this point I'm just thinking of several cinder blocks raised up, under the center of the box.
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Post  walshevak on 2/24/2012, 4:03 pm

I put hardware cloth and weedblock on my tabletops because of the way I have them raised on the 4x4s through the cinderblocks.

Cinderblocks were because I'm a little construction challanged. Hardware cloth because I couldn't lift the plywood bottomed box up onto the 4x4s by myself and had no help.

Kay

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Post  llama momma on 2/24/2012, 4:32 pm

@walshevak wrote:I put hardware cloth and weedblock on my tabletops because of the way I have them raised on the 4x4s through the cinderblocks.

Cinderblocks were because I'm a little construction challanged. Hardware cloth because I couldn't lift the plywood bottomed box up onto the 4x4s by myself and had no help.

Kay
If we lived close I would have helped you!
I'm putting mine on cinderblocks too. My guy is not a big fan of construction projects, so I figure the easier my request, the more boxes I get Smile This new box will be number 4, and shhh, don't tell him What a Face I hope there will be more.....
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Post  B00kemdano on 2/24/2012, 6:50 pm

I'm new to gardening, and even newer to SFG. I just finished filling my TTs yesterday with about 8" of MM.

I built my table bottoms with landscaping fabric and hardware cloth, and there is no more sag now than there was with no MM in there. My tables are all two feet wide, and various lengths, and I put a 2x4 crossmember in them at every 24", so I'd have something to nail the cloths to for support.

I'm primarily a woodworker, and I am inclined to believe that a plywood bottom wouldn't last you very long. Especially plywood from Lowes or Home Depot. Their plywood has fewer plies than a decent cabinet grade plywood, and the glue that is used to adhere the plies is typically not waterproof.

These are the reasons that I decided to go with the fabric and hardware cloth method. I'd be interested to hear from someone with TT experience as to how long a plywood bottom would last.
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Post  dsfin on 2/25/2012, 2:37 am

@UnderTheBlackWalnut,

After your very good recap of the what's and why's some have chosen plywood bottoms vs. hardware cloth, I'd like to add that when Boffer designed the TT/Wicking boxes hardware cloth was not an option for that design. And it would not be an option whether the box was to be used as a TT or as used on the ground. So in either case they would have the plywood or possibly some other solid bottom material.

---Dave
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Post  shannon1 on 2/25/2012, 4:21 am

I chose wood due to the fact living so near the ocean things rust even faster than they rot.sunny
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Post  jamesindetroit on 2/25/2012, 8:20 am

MY TT's are elevated about 24" and I used knee braces for supports along the sides. However, I did not brace the middle of the 5/8" plywood with anything. I may toss a few supports under there this year, but there is very minimal sagging. I am sure it will be pretty bad at the end of this year, but I intend on building new ones if I have to. I only anticipated these to last me 3 or 4 years tops.
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Post  llama momma on 2/25/2012, 10:03 am

All very helpful ideas everyone! Thanks A Bunch!
It's time to get it done. (Came across another thread where the person said strawberries were better suited in the ground!)
But darn it I've got my heart set on a strawb. TT so here it goes anyway...
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Post  walshevak on 2/25/2012, 11:52 am

I'm with you Llama Momma. Put mine in yesterday.

Kay

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Post  llama momma on 2/25/2012, 12:16 pm

Congrats to you W!!

I can build the box now but up north here I can't even get the plants yet. For now I'll virtually dream through your garden till it warms up around here sunny
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Post  Furbalsmom on 2/25/2012, 6:57 pm

@llama momma wrote:All very helpful ideas everyone! Thanks A Bunch!
It's time to get it done. (Came across another thread where the person said strawberries were better suited in the ground!)
But darn it I've got my heart set on a strawb. TT so here it goes anyway...

Hope you hear from WardinWake, I think he set up Table Top Strawberry Beds in Eastern VA.
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Post  llama momma on 2/25/2012, 7:01 pm

Thanks for the tip. If he doesn't show up I'll send a pm, again thanks
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Post  shannon1 on 2/26/2012, 4:11 am

I bet they will do just fine up there in the sky. Everything I have planted did well with the exception of the beets but no one had luck with them last year around here.
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TT's  plywood vs. hardware cloth, etc. Empty Do you have the link for this post?

Post  micahduke on 4/6/2012, 10:12 am

@UnderTheBlackWalnut wrote:
I've seen Boffer use hardware cloth on boxes HE RAISES OFF the ground because he is in a climate where the hardware cloth is going to last him a lot longer than wood. This takes a little more hardware know-how to get right, as I remember a thread he posted with "right way" and "not-so-right way" pictures and the not-so-right way was definitely sagging. Smile

Hi everyone. New to this forum, have found it very helpful. I am working on constructing my new garden. I am going to use all TableTops and was looking for a good bottom material. I wanted to use hardware cloth, but haven't been able to track down good instructions for doing so.

This post got my attention, as there is supposedly a "right way" to do this; but i cannot seem to locate that post on the right way. Does anybody have that link handy?

Much thanks!

-Micah
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Post  Yus on 4/6/2012, 10:17 am

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Post  micahduke on 4/6/2012, 10:19 am


Thank you Yus!
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Post  AvaDGardner on 4/6/2012, 6:58 pm

+1. I've been wondering if someone had laid out some instructions on building TTs. The book doesn't say much at all, mostly 'that you can' and shows them on saw horses.

That might be good for one wheel chair, but what about 10?

Just the first page in the link shows some great ideas.

Thanks!
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Post  walshevak on 4/7/2012, 11:45 am

I have 10 with hardware cloth bottoms and up on cinderblock and 4x4x12s cause I liked the look. I used a three 1x4s to support the hardware cloth.



TT's  plywood vs. hardware cloth, etc. Dscn0428

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Post  Leone on 7/11/2018, 7:41 pm

@walshevak wrote:I have 10 with hardware cloth bottoms and up on cinderblock and 4x4x12s cause I liked the look.  I used a three 1x4s to support the hardware cloth.



TT's  plywood vs. hardware cloth, etc. Dscn0428

Kay
Hi Walshevack,

How has this worked out for you? It has been a number of years since you posted this and I was wondering if your hardware cloth has held up?
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Post  sanderson on 7/13/2018, 4:12 am

Leone, Thank you for bumping this thread. I joined in 2013 so I never saw it. All of my TTs have plywood bottoms (built 2014, 2015 and 2016) and they are holding up amazingly.

I think Boffer used hardware cloth with Styrofoam. ??

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Post  Leone on 7/15/2018, 3:53 am

Boffer said, "In my variably cool climate (PNW), TTs with welded wire bottoms don't warm up, and stay warm, as well as the ground, which slows the growth of some warm season crops. So, I recently started putting foam board on top of the welded wire to see if that helps the MM retain warmth better."

Sanderson, I saw the pictures of your table tops. They look nice. We might use some of your design ideas. Are the 2x4's treated lumber? Which do you like best, the 2' or the 3' ?
TT's  plywood vs. hardware cloth, etc. Table_29

We just moved to a new location and we have to start over with our square foot garden. It will be a new adventure to have TT's and we are just researching for now and getting some ideas. Planting times are much different here in southern Alabama... This is our first summer here and with all the heat and humidity I wonder if having part shade would be a good idea. I don't know. Once the beds are in position it would be next to impossible to move them! We are observing the yard this year for the best location for them.
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Post  sanderson on 7/15/2018, 4:23 am

Leone, The side boards of the beds are common 2" x 4". The plywood bottoms are 3/4". Only the 2' legs are treated. I'm not sure what you mean by the 2' or the 3', which do I like best. thinking All but 2 table top beds are 2' wide and various lengths such as 3', 4', 7' and 8' long. Two beds were made to fit into open spots in the yard. They are 2.5' x 4' and 3.5' x 3.5'. You can see the 2.5' x 4' in the photo.

These were 2 of the earlier ones and there is a critical error in design. Somewhere on the Forum I posted step-by-step photos of how the 3.5' x 3.5' was made. I can't find them right now but can post the photos here or PM them to you if you want to try this design.

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Post  Leone on 7/15/2018, 7:09 am

Thank you for the clarification, Sanderson. I thought you had some beds 2' wide and some 3 ' wide. Just wondering which you like best.

Your beds are very nice and the more I look at them they really seem simple to make. Hmmmm...
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