I started a raised bed garden this weekend. I used planks of cedar nailed together and then staked at the corners. I turned just about an inch of topsoil (ha -- cement hard clay filled with rocks). The boards are 8" high and I'm going to fill this with good topsoil, manure and compost. I'm hoping you can grow vegetables in just 8" of soil. My long-range plan is to build another box like (10' x 5') next to it and then surround each with cedar mulch walkways. It should look something like this when I'm done. I like this site's block style of gardening. So, not having ever done this before I figured I've give this a try. Everything I read seems to indicate raised bed gardening is the way to go.
I need to bring in some more dirt. Luckily I have this nifty compost bin I built in the spring. It's filled up with grass clippings, leaves, way too many pine needles, and kitchen scraps. Even has some shredded office paper in there. Amazingly, it's pretty much turned to dirt. Well, dirt with a lot of pine needles in it. Apparently they're indestructible.
As Evelyn and I are putting this thing together it's raining pine needles down onto my pristine new dirt. I told her how my gardening mentor at work told me the one thing I want to be careful of is pine trees because they dump a lot of acidity into the garden. Oh, well. Don't see a way around this, I guess we'll be buying lots of lime.