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High Yield Gardening: My new Raised Beds

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JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

September 17, 2012
7:59 PM

Post #9278352

I finally built my raised beds today, and here they are. I initially thought about building one bed, 4'x12'x1' but in the end decided to break it up into two beds so that I could get around easier. So, I now have two beds 4'x6'x1'. I am glad I went with the 12" depth as that will undoubtedly give me all kinds of flexibility in terms of what I can grow, plus the plants ought to be happier. I've been toying with the garden planner @ the Garden Supply Co. website and wow, I should have a respectable garden soon!

I have not participated in this forum since its inception and even then, my posts were becoming infrequent due to other things preoccupying my time. Anyway, I'm glad to be making strides in my back yard, which is on the small side but it has potential. I really have to make the most out of my space since I have to compete with kid's play ground, swing set, toys and trees. Hopefully I can pack as much stuff as I can in these beds. I also have over a dozen eBuckets as well, plus a small 5'x5' garden for lettuce and such. Anyway, I will be utilizing the square foot method, and I actually section-off the spaces with twine. It helps me stick with my plan plus I like the way it looks. So far, I am planning to grow okra, corn, beans, onions, garlic & carrots in these beds.

I should have some dirt within the next couple of days. Woo-hoo!!!!

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RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

September 17, 2012
9:47 PM

Post #9278458

Looks nice! If you have good drainage, you could scratch some compost into the soil before you backfill, and have even deeper root zones than 12".

Is there room to walk between the rear wall and the fence, so you can get at both sides for picking and weeding?

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

September 17, 2012
9:56 PM

Post #9278463

John,
Nice RBs. I notice you didn't use corner posts inside the boxes. When I built my 4x8x11" I almost didn't use corner posts inside. Since then I'm glad I did. At 8' the soil it takes to fill the box is pretty heavy. So far, I haven't detected any bowing out of the sides.

Great job you did!

Linda
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

September 18, 2012
7:21 AM

Post #9278708

Thanks, Rick. You know, drainage will be something I will have to watch but I do not recall seeing standing water in that area for very long, maybe an hour or so after good downpour & when the ground is rock-hard. The houses in my neighborhood are built high up, somewhat, so I believe the water tends to drain well. Also, I did put some space between the fence and the other bed so I can get around and weed or harvest.

I will work the area a little more like you suggest in order to get a deeper root zone, too. Good idea.

Hey Linda! I thought about using posts as you mentioned but ultimatley did not due to time. You're right though...all that dirt will probably make the sides bulge. Will be interesting to see.

What type of set-up do you have, Rick?

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

September 18, 2012
11:46 AM

Post #9279005

John,
What're you putting underneath the boxes to control those grasses? I would suggest a layer of weed cloth, followed by some layers of thick cardboard. That'll smother the grass and weeds underneath the weight of your soil.

That's the next step for me, after I finish facing RB #3 with the cedar picket boards.

BTW, what material did you use to build your boxes?
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

September 18, 2012
12:47 PM

Post #9279067

I have some card board for the bottom of the beds. I layed some down and watered them after I took those pics I posted. I might run short of card board though so I might have to use lots of newspaper...or weed cloth? Maybe a quick stop by Lowes is in order. I've not used weed cloth before, just cardboard.

For my boxes, I used untreated12'x1'x2" boards from Lowes. They were long and heavy! I had them cut up three 12' long boards so I just had to assemble the pieces when I got home. The boards were $13.33 a piece. I also used 3 1/2" deck screws to assemble.

Do you use the ceda planks for visual effects or does it protect the box?

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

September 18, 2012
2:46 PM

Post #9279177

I'm probably gonna kill myself, but I build with pressure treated pine, and face the outsides of the boxes with the leftover cedar pickets from my fence that was put up last summer, so it all matches.

My lumbar yard gives away "trash" pieces, so I've collected enough cedar pickets to keep going long as I need to.

I found a website just yesterday that shows how to build the boxes from the actual cedar pickets, and I think I might go that route for the next several boxes. If I need to, I can actually double-wall the boxes with the cedar pickets. Hmmmmmmmm. Glad I'm brainstorming here, cause that's what I'm already doing with the PT pine.

The cost per box is adding up. FREE sounds much better to me!

Linda.

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

September 18, 2012
6:52 PM

Post #9279417

It sounds like your walls are only a litle over $1 per linear foot. That's good! I thoguht I had the cheapest, easiest walls ever with concrete pav ing stones tood on end.

But I can only beat your c ost if I use the 16" x 8" x 3/4" pavers the long way, and only have 8" walls.

That's one reason I like to loosen and amend the soil UNDER the bed. Encourage roots and worms to finish my work for me.

I like the pavers becuase I can adjust them very easily. Decide to narrow a bed from 4' to 3'? It takes more time to shovel the soil aside than to move the walls. Chnaging 8" walls to 12" walls just required buying the 12" x 12" x 1" pavers, then swapping 3 16" pavers for 4 12" pavers.

And once I changed some 8" walls to 16" just by tipping the pavers the other way (and hauling an equal number of new pavers).

They also act as slug traps, encouraging the lay their egg masses where I can get at them easily.

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RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

September 18, 2012
6:56 PM

Post #9279419

All of those were 8x16 pavers. Here's a 12x12 bed under constrcution, with a flash:

And other construction. They don't look good unless you go along them every few years with a 2x4 and a mallet, and tap them into pretty alignment.

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JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

September 19, 2012
12:41 PM

Post #9280238

Wow, you've got a lot going on there, Rick. I never thought to stand pave stones on end, great idea. I love that flexibility!

Linda- when you say lumber yard (for the left over wood) do you mean a BB store like HD?

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

September 19, 2012
1:05 PM

Post #9280264

Nope. I mean a "lumber" yard, as in hauling in trees and cutting it into lumber! LOL!

Blue and Orange would NEVER give away lumber for FREE! Nope, nada, never!!!

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

September 19, 2012
3:58 PM

Post #9280396

"Flexibility" is the right word! If I were marketing it, I would call it something like "modular raised beds".

After my first bed, I realized how easy it can be.

Make a strip of ground around the periphery reasonably level.
Shovel in enough soil in one section of the bed to be a little higher than needed.
Position the bottom of one paver right where you want it. (Brush a little soil under it for fine leveling.)
Hold that paver upright with one hand while scooping enough soil toward it to hold it in place.
Make it lean inwards a good bit. You can fine-tune the angle later when the whole wall is in place.

Position the next paver, scoop soil with your free hand to hold it up.
Shovel in more soil as needed.
When all the4 pavers are in place, add more soil to fill the center of the bed.
Now fine-tune the angle of all the pavers to match.
You can hammer the base in tighter with a 2x4 and a mallet.
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

September 30, 2012
4:54 PM

Post #9291369

I'm off and running now that I got my soil installed last week...

So far, I've planted 6 broccoli plants (a couple of them are a purple variety) & two cabbages. I also sowed 3 sq/ ft of Purple Haze Hybrid carrots from Johnny Seeds. I sowed 32 seeds per sq/ ft but will thin to 16, so 48 carrots total are planned for this round (these are not in the pics.) I'll sow more in a week or two.

I'm itching to plant some onions and garlic as well but its not time...I also found a drip irrigation system online that (finally) appeals to me and I believe it will serve my garden well! Also, I need to decide what to grow with the remaining space!

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JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

October 19, 2012
6:46 PM

Post #9310106

I'll go ahead and post this here...Linda had some good ideas about sowing spinach seeds in between rows of various brassicas...a good idea. But yeah, timing is key...looks like I missed the boat on these particular plots. Of course, you can help your "inter-planted" lettuce/ spinach plants by harvesting the lower brassicas leaves to make room. Good eats, from what I hear and that is one of the great "bonus" benefits of fall crops, for me anyways. Waste not, want not- right? Any good recipes for these leaves? Be it cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprout or other?

I've planted a few green onion bulbs in the first pic...between the "red" lettuce and the cabbage. I thought those bulbs were duds but I finally saw a few green shoots...trust me, they're there in the pic, lol. Anyway, I am just trying to pack stuff in my garden.

Carrots are in the 2nd pic...I did a poor job sowing them...I blame the soil in all honesty. I had my yard guy install "vegetable gardening" worthy soil but I am not so sure I got a good mix...hopefully I can make it thru the fall/ winter with decent harvests. Look closely- what are your thoughts? I have seen many chunks of clay, plus sandstone rocks (big ones, too) and small wood branches as well. The mix seems way too compact when wet and water tends to pool at the surface so drainage is not the best. This is something that I will have to look at further...



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JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

October 19, 2012
9:57 PM

Post #9310235

You're right- that soil looks pretty doarse and rocky for carrots. They like sandy loose soil, and will fork or get deformed when they hit rocks or hardpan. It should be of a consistency that you could till it with your fingers to at least 10", if you want some nice straight carrots.
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

October 20, 2012
11:03 AM

Post #9310581

Thanks Jo, good to hear another opinion. I think I will go with plan "B" and sow my other carrot seeds in my tuppaware bins. I have lots of potting soil from miracle grow- that should be fine, eh?

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

October 20, 2012
1:34 PM

Post #9310708

John,

Your veggies look WONDERFUL!!!

Remember, potting MIX goes in the containers -- potting soil goes in the ground. Otherwise, the soil in your tupperware bin will eventually compact hard as concrete!

I used two 20-gallon SmartPots to plant my carrots in. Sowed the seeds today. Takin' a break, then back out to sow turnip and beet seeds. The seeds have been soaking in a small bowl of water with a capful of Hydrogen Peroxide added, about 5 hours. Gonna sow the bed half and half, turnips and beets.


JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

October 20, 2012
4:50 PM

Post #9310811

Gymgirl, how are you doin with your acid reflux? That can make you miserable if it isn't under control.
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

October 20, 2012
6:13 PM

Post #9310871

Thanks Linda!!! Yeah, my plants are doin' alright. I was upset this morning when I went to inspect my garden and caught 2 brown caterpillars smack dab in the middle of one of my cabbage plants. Looked like Lover's Lane...I think there were eggs all over the place, or maybe it was frass? Anyway, I was disgusted by the prospect of me not catching this in time since they were in the middle of my young plant while the leaves are coalescing.

What do you guys do on a daily or semi-daily basis to control pests? Worms are the main culprit but I think slugs are also usual suspects as well. I have a bottle of Thuricide (sp?) which is a Bt product but I think it is near the end of it's shelf life (I think I've had it for 2 yrs, tops.) Plus I have Neem Oil concentrate (No Murphy's Soap or Dr. Bonner's or whatever...yet.)

Anyway, thanks for the reminder of potting soil vs. potting mix...not sure why I keep forgetting that!

And finally...went to the local FM and scored lots of romaine and "mustard spinach" (?). You know, she also had Tasty Green Hybrid cucumbers and Yellow Crookneck squash, all about 3" tall. Seems kinda late huh? I went ahead and bought a few plants so we'll see. They both mature in 55-60 days and first frost is around mid-December...maybe I can protect them and eek out some fruit in the interim between frosts?

This message was edited Oct 20, 2012 7:16 PM

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

October 20, 2012
7:37 PM

Post #9310928

John,
I hear tax on the worms, but, I haven't experienced them yet, since I'm just coming out of the eBuckets. This is my very first in-ground crop. But i, whether in-ground or in buckets, soon as the weather warms up in spring, the worms start hatching!

In anticipation, I've just received a stainless steel sprayer that will, hopefully, be the last one I buy in my lifetime. it is gorgeous (as steel sprayer tanks go!)

I was just gonna ask what to fill it with to start a proactive pesticide regimen. When I was an Uber newbie, and doing what I should, I believe I was spraying Ortho Bug B Gone every 14 days. No worm problem as I recall. Guess I'll start there. Also, I've been considering putting up a half high hoop with the floating row cover to keep the white moths off the brassicas . If they can't land, they can't lay eggs!

Linda

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

October 21, 2012
12:27 AM

Post #9310987

>> "mustard spinach" (?).

I'm guessing Tatsoi, Tah Tsai, Hon Tsai Tai.
Very mild, sweet, low-growing rosette, dark green, spoon-shaped leaves & short light green stalks.
Surprising cold hardiness for B. rapa, maybe cold hardy to 15ºF once established.
http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/1936/
Brassica rapa var. rosularis - or - Brassica rapa Narinosa Group

heck this out for all the name ambiguities!
http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/adv_search.php?searcher[common]=spinach mustard&searcher[family]=&searcher[genus]=&searcher[species]=&searcher[cultivar]=&searcher[hybridizer]=&searcher[grex]=&search_prefs[blank_cultivar]=&search_prefs[sort_by]=rating&images_prefs=both&Search=Search


At first I thought "Komatsuna", but no, that is supposed to be commonly called "Spinach Mustard", not "Mustard Spinach"
Japanese Komatsuna - "Spinach Mustard"
Brassica rapa var. komatsuna - or some call it var perviridis
deep green leaves, tender stems
High Ca & vitamins
very easy to grow: all seasons: tolerates heat and cold & common diseases

I got my seeds from Tainong Seeds.
It is supposed to be milder than Mizuna ("Japanese Mustard" - Brassica rapa var. nipposinica).

CLScott
Calgary
Canada

October 21, 2012
6:36 AM

Post #9311113

There is a home, a block or so from here, where they have built the raised beds out of the concrete sidewalk blocks which are about 20 inches by 30 inches.
They have a wood frame on the ground and then some kind of metal clips to hold the blocks.
At the top there is another wood frame with metal clips holding the blocks from the top.
They have the blocks so the 30 inch sides are running vertically.
They built four of these and filled them with good soil.
They are right out in the front yard which gets full sun.
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

October 21, 2012
9:36 AM

Post #9311236

LOL Rick, yeah those naming conventions are all over the place. Anyway, thanks for the info. My plants look more like the Brassica rapa var. perviridis found in your second link. Gotta love the common names: "mustard spinach, spinach mustard". lol.

Here's my 6-pack of, er, mustard spinach. Thoughts?

Note: I have Romaine lettuce on the left (it has the plant ID in one of the cells); the mustard spinach is on the right.

This message was edited Oct 21, 2012 10:38 AM

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JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

October 21, 2012
9:54 AM

Post #9311252

Linda- the stainless steel sprayer sounds sharp. That's probably the way to do with so many crops. I bought a plastic sprayer- at least 5 gallons- that you pump & spray but I haven't used it in quite a while so thanks for reminding me.

Anyway, the worms were going to town on my tomato plants but the Thuricide seemed to stop them cold. I don't see as much leaf damage. I used a hand-sprayer to apply on three plants and that got a little tiring. That's probably because I am not in "gardening shape" yet. But yeah, I'm going to have to figure out something soon with the cabbage loopers or whatever because I don't want any surprises in my cabbage.

I'll research during the football game :)

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

October 21, 2012
6:32 PM

Post #9311646

So those walls are 20 inches deep? That is really DEEP.

>> 6-pack of, er, mustard spinach

At that young age, I can't tell them apart. They all look the same to me until later.
CLScott
Calgary
Canada

October 21, 2012
6:58 PM

Post #9311667

They are really deep----30inches! because the long side is vertical.

It will be interesting to see what they grow in them!

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

October 21, 2012
9:55 PM

Post #9311853

I misunderstood.

I amended one bed really deep (down below grade, not raised above grade) - in fact I'm "storing" most of 4 cubic yards of "topsoil" down there. I thought that Lavatera and Knockout roses needed deep soil.

It turns out that I had to move the Lavatera to much WORSE soil so it wouldn't shoot up and flop over. Probably the Knockout roses don't need deep soil, either, becuase what seemed like sandy well-draining topsoil in the pile in the dirt yard became clayey, heavy, poorly-draining stuff when they dumped it into my yard.

My long-long term plan is to excavate some of that 3-4-foot-deep store-bought soil and spread it around new beds, with more amendments. That might be a five-year plan.
CLScott
Calgary
Canada

October 22, 2012
3:56 AM

Post #9311903

I think most plants need maybe 16 inches deep soil.
Trees and shrubs need deeper?
I am amending the soil in flower beds with peat and sheep manure.
Looks like it will go over snow this week!
mraider3
Helena, MT

November 26, 2012
12:05 AM

Post #9342653

John, I just did a quick scan of this thread and I may be a little late with this suggestion but I'll give it a shot for your later plantings. You anticipated going with the square foot planting and your beds are fairly long. The question was raised about harvesting from both sides which is definitely a problem for me with four foot wide beds, even with 360 degree access. Since your beds are butting up against a fence you might consider planting your corn in a row on the back side of the beds next to the fence, and placing a pole bean seed next to the corn. I space my corn seed 14 inches apart based on advice from Farmerdill and it works great for me. I would suggest you keep the planted seeds the same distance from the fence as well. Harvesting of the corn and beans trellised on the corn can be much easier than trying to reach across a four foot span to pull carrots or onions, etc. Just a thought!

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

November 26, 2012
7:14 AM

Post #9342800

That's a good suggestion.

My first RB is exactly 48" wide, interior. It is a pain to try to reach the center from either side, and I have 360° access, too.

RB #2 is 38" wide, and much easier to access.

RB #3 sits parallel to the fence, is 36" wide, and has an 18" walkway between the bed and the fence. EZ-est access.

Linda
mraider3
Helena, MT

November 26, 2012
7:44 AM

Post #9342825

Linda, although I have never tried this idea I have seen people raise cucumbers on their chain link fences. Should you have reasonable access to the sun even a wooden fence could be set up with some type of trellis to provide a wall of fines at the back of your raised beds along a fence.
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

November 26, 2012
8:52 AM

Post #9342871

I would just add this- if you grow trellised plants against a wood or closed type fence, there will not be good air flow or sunlight for optimim growth. My first year here I did that, and after the season was over, I created an 18" path behind the growing area. Now everything grows much better.
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

November 26, 2012
7:57 PM

Post #9343456

mraider3 et al...I am 6' tall and have long arms and legs...yeah, I probably should have given myself more room, truth be told. The beds are sitting tight next to the fence but my original calculations/ projections/ estimates/ theories all told me that would be enough room given my "reach", LOL. I appreciate the advice and I assure you that I will be considering what you propose most carefully.

14" spacing for the corn? I've read other square-foot gardeners doing 4 seeds/ sq. ft and that was my intention this coming spring. But as I said, I will be rethinking my plans so luckily I have time. How far do the 14" rows need to be? My beds are 6' x 4' so 14" spacing will give me 5 corn per row.

mraider3
Helena, MT

November 27, 2012
12:26 AM

Post #9343547

My bad John, I misread the length of your beds when I did the quick scan and thought you had some beds 16' long. I would still recommend plant corn and beans, or trellising cucumbers along the back side of your beds for ease of harvest. I'm am six feet tall as well and cultivating and harvesting of my six 4' beds is still enough to give me a back ache, but I'm seventy.

As for corn spacing in the garden, I can't tell you why this has worked so much better for me than the six inch spacing suggested on the packages, but my yields are significantly better than when I crowded corn. Third the seed and three times the crop! If you decide to use this method and space you corn more closely together along the fence side of your raised bed you may need to side dress your corn several times during the season. Corn is a big uptake of nutrients as you know and will probably be very competitive with whatever you plant next to it.

When I first started planting corn in the garden I actually planted in squares using a brand of corn a neighbor down the street had suggested. Didn't work! So next I planted in rows. Still didn’t work. Then along came Farmerdill and I haven't looked back sense.

Could also try planting a fish like the Indians. I fish and plant the leftovers in holes at the end of my soaker hoses for pumpkins. You would not believe the size of my Jackolanterns.
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

November 27, 2012
6:51 AM

Post #9343656

It's cool mraider3; both 6' x 4' beds are right next to each other so the "length" is 12' on aggregate. I was thinking about doing okra along these "fence" side rows but everything is still in the planning phase at this point. In fact I need to start ordering seeds.

A third of the seeds and three times the crop? Can't argue with that, and farmerdill always has good advice. Plus I have read feedback from other gardeners saying that their corn tends to be on the small side when crowding, but that seemed like an acceptable trade-off with the space issue.

If I had fish leftovers I would definitley try it. I'm the only fish-lover in my house so we don't eat it much except the kids. And fish sticks don't really count, do they?

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

November 27, 2012
8:30 AM

Post #9343718

LOL! Fish Sticks! If it's Gorden's, then there's more real fish in there than not!
mraider3
Helena, MT

November 27, 2012
11:09 PM

Post #9344414

My idea of fish sticks are filet strips 3" x 1" tossed in a zip lock bag with blackened seasoning and lots of cayenne pepper. Shake well to coat and place in a skillet with and 1/8th inch of very hot peanut oil. Make a dip of catsup, some lime or lemon juice, and plenty of horseradish.

Since going to farmerdills recommendation on corn in a good year i get three large ears on each stalk, a few with four, and occasionally five ears.

Just remember to try Linda's microwaved corn: Leave several layers of husk on an ear of corn and microwave for four minutes. For multiple ears subtract a minute from the total time for each additional ear. Two ears - seven minutes; three ears - ten minutes, etc. Be sure to wear oven mittens when you remove the ear(s) from the oven. If you take the corn directly from the stalk to the oven you probably won't need to add butter or salt to flavor.

JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

December 5, 2012
8:17 PM

Post #9350984

I'll be sure to try your "fish stick" recipe & Linda's microwave corn as well!!! Thanks.

Side note, slightly off topic...I recently asked my wife to pick up a piece of fish for my dinner a few nights ago. I was going to be home late, around 8:30pm, and didn't want a heavy meal (and I really do not enjoy fast food as much as I used to.) I figured she would have picked up a cod or one of those "white" pre-seasoned fish from the local super market but she got me a 0.75 lb salmon filet. Funny because I was surprised and said, "What's this??" But it was good...yummmm. Anyway, the smell...err, aroma, did not please her, LOL. It was all over the house. Anyway, I was thinking that I need to include fish more often into my diet.
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

December 5, 2012
8:31 PM

Post #9350994

P.S.

Update on my garden...some of my lettuce is bolting so that is a bummer. It was great! These are some type of green loose-leaf lettuce; Interestingly enough, my red loose-leaf lettuce has not bolted and does not appear to be making any upward growth at all despite it being planted at the same time. I need to plant more lettuce!

Finally have a couple of heads of broccoli now! About time...need to plant next year's broccoli in a sunnier spot. I am convinced that is the reason for the poor performance. Garlic has sprouted and the onions look...um, not sure. I'll need to post some pics so you guys can tell me.

mraider3
Helena, MT

December 6, 2012
5:25 AM

Post #9351131

John, in your reference to the fish smell, were you talking about the cooking smell of the fish, or the raw fish. I don't purchase fish from a supermarket because it is nearly impossible to get fresh fish, frozen fish especially.

As I plan on doing later this morning I will go out, catch one or two nice trout, place the fish on ice, return home and clean it. Generally this takes me less than two hours. After filleting the fish, I wash the filets well and place them in the refrigerator with a clean recycled gallon Ziplock bag of ice on top of the filets. Fish is almost always eaten that day or the next. I never freeze trout because it is one of the fastest fish to spoil. Soft fish, or fish which has an unpleasant smell isn’t suitable for eating.

As for cooking smells, my wife prefers me to grill the blackened fish outside. I use so much cayenne in my blackened seasoning it brings tears to her eyes and coughing if cooked inside. I either use a standard fish grill, or a black iron skillet with a little peanut oil to cook the fish on the grill. If you’re like me and like it really spicy hot and use a black iron skillet, you had better dedicate that skillet to just blackened seasoning cooking…trust me on this one John.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

December 6, 2012
5:54 PM

Post #9351744

John,
I discovered six Brocc and two Cauliflower heads Monday. They went from nickel to quarter size by yesterday. They are planted in a bed along the west fence line. It gets bright light in the morning, and about 4-5 hours of sun after noon.

I've embraced that full-on sun all day doesn't suit all the brassicas, all the time.

P.S. What Morgan said about that skillet...

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

December 10, 2012
6:06 PM

Post #9355106

>> I've embraced that full-on sun all day doesn't suit all the brassicas, all the time.

I think you're right. Especially not after spring warms up, or too far south, or near Noon .
I figure that a "sunny, warm" day in coastal WA is like a "cool partial shade" day in Texas.

They are cool-weather crops.
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

December 10, 2012
9:01 PM

Post #9355219

Morgan (et al)- sorry for the delayed response. Yeah, I was talking about the cooking smell of fish. My wife did not like the smell so much and since we do not eat fish very often she notices even the slightest hint of "fishy-ness".

Man, that must be great to fish locally and enjoy the catch the same day. I live by the coast, so in theory, I can get some fresh seafood from the fishermen in Kemah or Seabrook. Alas, there are a lot of of traffic lights to get there so it is not so convenient!

Thanks for the tip on the "dedicated" skillet, lol. Didn't think about that, but now that you mention it I can easily see how the spices can overly "season" certain cookery, lol.

Regarding brassicas...I am a little confused about how they grow best. I planted some cauliflower weeks (a month?) after my broccoli and I already have cauliflower heads developing! I think the Caulis get slightly better sun but still...I need to look at my records more closely and get back with you guys...
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

December 10, 2012
9:04 PM

Post #9355223

Oh- do you guys prune your brassicas? Specifically, do you trim the lower leaves of your broccs, caulis and brussle sprouts? Thx.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

December 11, 2012
12:48 PM

Post #9355712

John,
I systematically pulled off the yellowing lower leaves that seem to occur right after transplanting and until the plants "takes" to the new location. Then, they stop turning, and I stop cleaning them away. I like to keep those lower leaves off the soil. They get mushy and full of splashback, and prove to be hiding places for pillbugs and cutworms. Plus, I like my beds nice and tidy.

That's the only pruning I do. BTW, I discovered you can eat ALL the leafy greens from the broccs and the caulis, much like you cook mustards and collards and turnip and spinach greens. My tastebuds prefer the cauliflower leaves over the broccoli leaves. They're milder. The broc leaves are more pungent.

"Regarding brassicas...I am a little confused about how they grow best. I planted some cauliflower weeks (a month?) after my broccoli and I already have cauliflower heads developing! I think the Caulis get slightly better sun but still...I need to look at my records more closely and get back with you guys..."

John,
You are correct. Brassicas can cause confusion. I planted RB #2 full of broccs and caulis, in FULL sunlight, a FULL month and a half before I planted RB #3 (along my western fenceline, with bright morning sun, and full sun from noon to about 4 p.m.) full of brocs and caulis. Everything in RB #3 bed has heads that went from nickel size last Monday to quarter size by this past Saturday. Bed #2 has just started making heads this past weekend, and they aren't growing nearly as fast as the ones planted 1.5 months later than they were.

I talked to Bubba_MoCity, who planted out a batch of my broc and cauli seedlings about 3 weeks before mine in RB #2, and he's already harvested and eaten fullsize broccoli HEADS! Go figure!

Yep. Brassicas can cause confusion...

On the serious note though, I think it has more to do with the air temp, than anything. I know there are two different formulas between RB #2 and #3, but it's also warmer in #2 and cooler in #3. I learned by accident last growing season what shade and cool can do. I had to move some of my broccolis growing in eBuckets from where they were sitting, on the spot that RB #2 now occupies. I moved them to the RB #3 spot along the fence line, just temporarily, or so I thought, because the weather was getting warmer, stuff was fainting, and I was ripping everything out. There was shade and cool wind blowing along that fence line. Those broccs lifted their swooning heads, and grew the largest side shoots I've ever seen, all the way through the winter, spring, and the end of April, when the aphids just dessimated them.

Don't underestimate your cool, shady spots for growing brassicas.

Linda

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

December 11, 2012
1:02 PM

Post #9355722

Oh, John,
I almost forgot. I like to observe the plants while they're growing, to see what they do and when. I noticed that, when my transplanted broccs and caulis settled in, at some point the leaves were standing out all nice and straight. I kept checking for heads, and, nothing. Then, one day I was looking at the bed from my usual spot in the den, and I noticed that the leaves seemed to be shriveling up, and I wondered if something was attacking the root systems!

Well, upon closer observation, I also noticed that the four innermost leaves were curled over, like when you close up a box. They were starting to make a little covered pouch. I kept observing, and those leaves just outright starting doing this curling, wavy thing on the edges. And, sure enough, next time I checked, there were tiny curds pushing up under that little covered pouch! My count was exactly 117 days from dropping the seed into the seed starter mix inside!

So, next year, I'm gonna count the days from sowing seeds indoors, watch for that leaf curling thing again, and for the covered pouch, and I'm sure the curds will be close behind!

Linda

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

December 11, 2012
7:03 PM

Post #9355963

I've never tried heading Brassicas, excpet for a leaf brocolli that ov erwitnered and went to seed.

I just grow leafy things like Bok Choy. Cool season crops, for sure! They like rich, pretty moist soil. My guess would be that, if it gets warm before you harvest, you might wiosh they had afternoon shade. At least wtgaer them a little more heavily.

One nice thing about leaf c rops: if it gets tgoo warm, and they start to bolt: you can eat them at any age. The younger, the more tender. Days to maturity for any leafy green can be 7 or 20 or 50 or 70, depending on whether you eat microgreens, baby leaves or mature heads.
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

December 11, 2012
7:41 PM

Post #9355993

Thanks Linda, I was wondering about my observations regarding brassicas. I thought it was just me! I recall in another thread where someone planted Brocs after me, and was harvesting a few weeks ago. Grrrrr. (But good for them, of course.) I'll just have to keep observing and see what works.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

December 11, 2012
9:54 PM

Post #9356114

Yes, John,
I think the only sure thing about growing anything is that there IS no sure thing! And each garden is different than every other garden

My neighbor across the street grew my tomato seedlings and got humorous tomatoes. I got very little on my side of the street.

This season, she planted store bought broccoli plants about three weeks before my seedlings went into RB #3. My crop today is twice as tall as hers. Her bed that gets full-on sun all day trumps mine for tomatoes, but my cool shade bed will grow heading brassicas when all she'll get are fainting leaves.

JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

December 12, 2012
2:12 PM

Post #9356562

Linda- forgive me-I couldn't help myself---"HUMOROUS" tomatoes ???- Were they laughing, giggling, or what?? I can just picture them !!!

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

December 12, 2012
2:22 PM

Post #9356566

LOL!!!!

HUMONGOUS!!!

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

December 12, 2012
2:30 PM

Post #9356570

You've heard of Elbow macaroni and Head lettuce.

Why not Humerus tomatoes?
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

December 12, 2012
6:15 PM

Post #9356809

Right on, Rick!

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

December 13, 2012
7:32 PM

Post #9357718

Arm glad you thought it was funny!
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 22, 2013
7:17 PM

Post #9458578

OK, now I'm tired...I dug out all of the old "vegetable gardening blend" soil that was in my RB#2 earlier today. Stuff was a joke, and compacted way too much, I thought. But, beforehand, I had made a trip to one of the better nurseries in my area to look around at their soil selections. They had lots of good stuff for sale: leaf mold compost, cotton burr compost, mushroom compost, chicken manure, etc. I was looking for vermiculite, in particular, because I wanted to try the Mel's Mix formula, but as I was browsing the soil selections I came across Lady Bug Square Foot Gardening Mix. It is 1 part compost (five compost varieties), 1 part vermiculite, and 1 part coco coir. So, it is very similar to Mel's. Needless to say, I was thrilled! The 2 cu/ ft bags were going for...wait for it...the great low low price of 14.99 (American Dollars, :) ) I just had to get it, though...

Tomorrow I will tweak my drip irrigation system and them I am off to the races...time to plant. Bad thing is that I dropped the ball on my okra so I do not have plants, just seeds. I should have started them a few weeks back but oh well.

Here's a before shot of RB#2, a pic of the newly installed Lady Bug mix, and a close-up of the mix.

Thumbnail by JohnCrichton75   Thumbnail by JohnCrichton75   Thumbnail by JohnCrichton75      
Click an image for an enlarged view.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

March 23, 2013
2:50 AM

Post #9458779

I'm afraid to ask how much it cost you to fill that bed...

1/2 yard of pine bark fines (double grind pine) = $18.00
Three 2.5 cf bags of MG Garden soil = $24
Three 40 lb.bags of topsoil with compost = $7

I'm topping off each of my RBs with the MG - Topsoil blend. The pine bark was my building block when I established the beds, and there's been very little, to no, shrinkage in the three beds...

Come on down with your trailer, LOL!

FWIW, I'm starting my okra, zuke, & zuke seeds today. I have a flat of Eggplants under lights. I also have two flats of bell peppers that are full of blooms, and another flat of bells that are only 3" tall, and ready for transplanting up.

Then there's a flat of broccoli seeding under lights, and a gorgeous flat of mustard greens and a flat of cabbages outside.

I've got LOTS to do today...BYE! LOL!!
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 24, 2013
5:47 PM

Post #9460620

I wish I had a trailer...no dice. So yeah...this was not what I would consider a "deal", lol. The key ingredient for me was the vermiculite, which I could not find in sufficient quantity anywhere close by. I only found small bags at Lowe's, I forget how much exactly. Alas, I was short on time so that was the price I had to pay.

So you have broccoli to transplant?? I thought it was past time to transplant, or no? I have three broccs in eBuckets that are about 1' tall and I have been wondering whether or not they will mature.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

March 24, 2013
9:45 PM

Post #9460823

Once again, I'm pushing the veggie envelope with those Broccs and mustards. Not sure there's time, but they're in the cool shade. If we keep getting these dips, they might just make it, LOL!

Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

April 18, 2013
1:43 PM

Post #9488772

I also have broc and cauliflower, along with melons and such two to three inches tall. Tomatoes are more like 4-5" tall. It will be another month before I can get them outdoors even with protection

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