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!!!!
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.
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'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?
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?
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!
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.
"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.
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!
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...
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.
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.
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?
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!
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
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).
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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..."
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
My square foot garden is in full swing. I have tomatoes in the back row (by the fence), then a row of cucumbers, then bell peppers, and finally bush beans. The bed is 6' x 4' x 1'. I bought my plants from the local Farmer's market and planted everything in early April. Or was it late March?? I knew I should have kept notes!! :/
As far as varieties go, here's what I have:
Tomatoes- Black Krim (flowers, no fruit), Talladega, and Bush Beefsteak
Peppers- Chinese Red Giant, Big Bertha and/ or California Wonder.
Beans- Royal Burgundy Habichuela (purple variety)
I've not had much success with my peppers or tomatoes so I'm hoping that the ninth time is the charm. Plus my watering system is a huge help and it is relatively new to my scheme.
Boy your plants look huge and healthy. Already with fruits. I think I can leave mine in the raised beds though not in the ground yet. Only have 4" of unfrozen ground in them. Another week or so should do the trick. At least they are out getting sun and fresh air. Congrats and hope your tomatoes and peppers do well. they sure look good.
First statistical non-frost day is June 1, and things are still growing in late September. Snow in late October. Snow gone by mid April. June 21 has about 19 hours of sunlight. Sun rises at 4:20 and sets at 11:40.
The beds thawed faster than I thought. I put 3cf of compost on top and mixed in. I was able to plant the beds today. The soil was cold down below 4" but not frozen. It will thaw soon, especially with the hoop covers on them to hold the heat.
John, I dont use a lot of fertilizer. The beds had compost and a little manure added last fall after the summer garden was done. So far, Ive not added anything but I may add some Miracle Gro tomato food liquid fertilizer later on. I added it early last year and my plants focused too much on fruit and the vines did not grow very big. So Im waiting this year.
If I add enough compost to keep the clay soft and airy, I don't need much fertilizer.
When I do add fertilizer, I add lightly, and use whatever is cheapest, as long as N is the highest number.
I would consider getting soil tests, but I have multiple tiny raised beds. probably every soil is very different.
P.S. If that was an irrigation tube I saw, may I suggest a "wind-up timer", if you don't already have a battery-powered timer? It saves having to remember when you wanted to turn it off. And you can adapt it to your needs by waiting until the plants need water, and then dialing in 15, 20, 30 minutes or whatever seems indicated.
And they can be as cheap as $15!
If you don't buy a timer, I suggest using at least one sprayer that makes a loud hissing noise. That also helps remind you that you left the water running!
I would love an irrigation system but the building thereof is a little daunting. I have a little booklet that spells it out very clearly but if I choose to change what I plant where that pretty much changes the arrangement. Still, I will give it more thought. I would have to take it up each spring to clean the beds and recompost. I think they are small enough that the grid could be picked up carefully and set aside. If I just follow the SF lines then it wouldn't interfere (too much) with where I plant what.
>> I would have to take it up each spring to clean the beds and recompost.
Better yet, remove it before the soil freezes. Then you don't need to worry about water remaining in the fittings and freezing and cracking the fittings. If you use "quick change" or "screw-on" fittings, you can unscrew it into short lengths that are easier to drag around than a hose.
At worst, you have a mainline that you can roll up almost like a hose, plus dangly-stuff for spray jets and dripper lines.
>> if I choose to change what I plant where that pretty much changes the arrangement
Or, you COULD be sloppy and haphazard like me. Only my mainline stays in one place, and even that changes occasionally.
Run some 1/2" lines along one edge of a bed (or down the middle). Run a few 1/8" lines to little sprayer-jets on stakes. Aim those as the whim strikes you or some parts of the bed need more water. Move the stakes every time you hoe, if you want to. Change the jets freely, they screw on and off and cost 20 cents.
Drip line or drip tape is a little more efficient since nothing evaporates and there is no over-spray. But even that doesn't need to be staked in place. You can let it trail between rows or wind it in a spiral in a densely-packed bed.
Well darn. I lost my entire response. ugh. I did cut and paste your info into a word doc for reference. My raised beds are 18" above ground and about 3' apart so no hoeing - only 4x8' each. Have seen set ups that look sturdy enough a grid to simply lift out after disconnecting from hose connection tube. Only happen before freezeup in fall.
I am finally off to a good start this season and my Bush Beefsteak plant is loaded with little tomatoes, plus a few that are smaller than a tennis ball. So, I will be try some MG liquid fertilizer as well, SteadyCam. I worked some composted cow manuer (Black Kow) into my beds earlier this year at the recommended rate, so I am sure that is why my plants are nice and green. I just worry about the fruit developing as best as they can.
Yes, siree Rick. I installed an irrigation system and it's great. More on that later.
Oberon46- I was like you and the project seemed daunting no matter how much research I did. There are so many vendors, pieces, and options. Finally, I settled on the system that seemed to worked best for my needs and just jumped right on in. I realized at some point that I was dithering, and for me, I felt like it was better to just get my hands on all of the components and just do the best I could. I am very please that I did.
Some of the challenges were uncoiling the main 1/2" tubing, which is the larger diameter tubing you get which pipes water to where you need it. It takes some time to "uncoil" the tubing so that you can move it/ lay it where you want. Also, I am frustrated by the battery-powered timers that came with my system. They're $30 and I am on #2 right now cause the first one was rained on while the cover was off (my fault.) I bought a new unit a few months ago and now (suddenly for no reason) the digital display is screwed up...@$@$%^.
I need to contact my vendor and see what they can do. Anyway, good luck.
Thanks for the advice, Rick. I will check out the link later tonight when I get home. I love the timer I have, but it has a glass jaw it seems. What I like about my timer is that you can program up to 8 different start/ stop watering times, plus set the days of the week you want the unit to turn on (it has several pre-programmed "days of the week" combinations that you can choose from.)
You can also turn the system on manually to water whenever you want, but as Rick points out...you'll need to remember to shut it off. Or you'll have a soggy yard...
My current settings are from 7:30am-8am, and then from 5:30pm-6pm. I'm thinking that I will need to adjust this once the heat kicks in, so maybe I should water longer in the morning? Or both morning and evening?
I don't know about watering for cooling. In the PNW, there is no such thing as a "hot" day.
If you worry about mildew, spraying leaves at night may encourage that. They might stay wet for hours. But if you worry about beads of water focusing sunlight and burning spots in leaves, maybe you need to water so early that it has mostly dried before you get a high sun angle.
Or, as the gurus will advise, use drippers instead of sprayers. I'm a novice, and I still enjoy seeing the mini-jets spray and hiss. But evaporation is not a big problem for me.
When I get around to bucket gardening, I may need to water those buckets 2-3 times per day, because I have total paranoia about poor aeration in deep containers. I plan to use a very well-aerated mix with lots of coarse bark. Thus it will not retain a lot of water. Thus a large tomato plant in a 5 gallon bucket may need very frequent waterings.
For that, I will need a trustworthy battery-powered timer to water them for 30-45 minutes several times while I'm at work. I have some battery-powered timer that I bought "for cheap" on sale, but I don't know whether to trust it or not.
>> uncoiling the main 1/2" tubing,
>> It takes some time to "uncoil" the tubing so that you can move it/ lay it where you want.
It goes faster on a warm day and easier with patience, or doing other chores while the coil decides to cooperate.
Lay something heavy on one end, or the middle of a run. Like a bag of mulch or a concrete paving stone, or big rocks.
Pull the other hand as straight as it goes easily, even if it looks like a semi-coiled spring. Now weight down that end.
Now unroll the rest of the coil into the very general area where you want it. Weigh it down anywhere you have to make a bend, but for now try to keep it mostly straight-ish.
The key is to just do something else for an hour or two with the sun on the hose . It will slump to the ground and become willing to uncoil.
Pull it straight and move it into the positions you want as the heat softens it. Untwist it if you lifted it off the coil instead of unrolling the coil.
Soon it will be cooperative enough that its own weight holds it down and you can remove the weights.
If you want "crisp corners" like a tucked-in bedspread, you CAN buy 90 degree elbows. I just bend it into a radius and that's fine for me. Or I try to make my corners where I need a Tee or a spigot anyway. You can make tighter corners if you use stakes to bend the mainline around, but don't try to bend it so tight that you kink it!
Now that you have 1/2" mainline in your yard, you know that you can add spigots everywhere for just $3-5 each?
I used to use all "compression" fittings so I didn't reduce the ID with "screw-on" or "Easy-Loc" fittings. But those "compression" fittings are HARD to push on, even if I soften the very tip of the hose in hot water (Mr.Coffee pot)!
Now I use all "Easy-Loc" fittings because they are so much less painful to install, and let me change my mind and re-route tubing any time.
P.S. In Texas, do you have to bury the PVC under mulch to keep the sun from dissolving the PVC in a few years?
P.P.S. I found a cheap source of 3/4" mainline and that forms the "spine" of my system, but it is overkill. The 1/2" mainline handles 4 gpm = 240 GPH. That's enough for my whole small yard, I don't need the 8 gpm = 480 GPH capacity of the 3/4" mainline.
The real limit is the pressure I run the sprayers at (20 or 30 PSI). That means I don't have 45 PSI city water on my hand sprayers anymore. What used to be a torrent is now more like a watering wand.
Ohhh, right. Forgot to mention one of the most important things...time. Thanks for pointing that out, Rick. You certainly want to have time to do all of the preliminary stuff for these systems. I admit that I rushed thru this process the first time. But learned my lesson.
And good idea...I should have left the 1/2" tubing out in the sun for awhile, then stretch it out like you described. The tubing gets much more workable when it's warm.
I've visited dripworks.com before but ended up getting the same "easy loc" system from someplace else. Great stuff, huh?? I've got several different elbows and T's, and just recently bought a bunch of different drip emitters, sprayers & even some misters. I'm set and have grand ideas :)
I don't use any sprayers for my vegetable beds- only the 1/4" drip lines. I've got four lines running down the center (more or less) of each sq/ft row. I am thinking about watering longer in the summer so that the water gets deeper and the soil stays moist longer. I should probably mulch, too.
I use the adjustable sprayers for my herbs and annuals and and such. Dripworks certainly has a better selection of timers- I need to check those out. Like you said, I need the water to kick on/ off when I am at work.
Oh and yes, I was worried about the plastic tubing cracking in our climate. It's brutal during the summer so most of the lines are buried under an inch or so of soil. Some of it is exposed though, like the lines that run out on the beds. Not sure what to do about that...lubricate it somehow? With something that won't make it cook? Otherwise, I may just need to prepare to replace every several years. This is season two and they look fine.
3/4" would be overkill for me too. I am please with 1/2". I forget what kind of pressure I have but I can't complain. I did the bucket test, and was able to fill a 5 gallon bucket in about 55 seconds or so.
Oh, and you wrote: "But those "compression" fittings are HARD to push on, even if I soften the very tip of the hose in hot water (Mr.Coffee pot)!"
Yup, I have struggled with the same thing- great solution though, thanks!!
All good ideas Rick for the raised beds. Doesn't sound so complicated now. And I agree that I am practicing avoidance out of anxiety. Best to just jump in and carefully measure (don't want to pay for waste materials) and just DO IT! lol.
I bought a starter kit from this place, although the price seems to have gone up somewhat from what I recall paying. You can always buy additonal pieces to suit your needs down the road. I'm glad I bought the kit because it took the headache out of figuring out what I needed. You can always customize later by buying additional components, many if which are not that expensive like some of the hoses and sprayers/ drip emitters.
Look around and find a good deal. Happy hunting, all.
Great idea John. I think I will do the same. We have a local hydroponics shop but my brain got all twisted just looking at all the tiny pieces and lengths of hose. Thanks for the urls. I think the Irrigantion Direct I had seen before and bookmarked. Will go back and look again. Seems well worth it to assure deep regular irrigation.
I found a kit on ebay that looks good for a starter but has 5/8" main feeder line. I have three raised beds 18" deep and about 4x8 each. Lots of small starts like lettuce, beans, peas, cauli, broc, etc. Will fill the beds fast judging by last year so I am thinking that using the drip is better than the spray in the long run. Plus less wasteful in losing water which is not a problem here. One charge for water used, no matter volume.
I am sure that I will need to adapt a little but we do have the local store for further parts. I would only need the 5/8" to run from bed to bed (probably down one side, tacked to ground, up the next one. Would run hose 3/4" to first section of hose. Faucet is about 25' from beds and has reasonable pressure. Need to test it like you mentioned with a bucket. Will do so today to assure exact gph. Thanks for any feedback.
Mary, Antelco is a good, mainstream manufacturer. What they call 5/8", everyone else calls 1/2". It should handle 4 gpm = 240 GPH.
Hmm, Shrubblers can throw 0-13 GPH. In theory, 25 Shrubblers COULD throw as much as 325 GPH if you plugged them all in and opened them all wide open at the same time! If you want to use ALL of them, you'll have to make two "zones" with a Tee or Y with valves, and run them at different times (162 GPH each zone).
But you might look at Home Depot or Lowes or a hydroponics store and buy a few small sprayers and drippers to experiment and see if you like those better. Some 180 degree and 90 degree sprayers may turn out to be handy.
A few tall stakes are very handy, or you can just tie a small stake onto a stick and pound that into the ground.
If dripline has a 1 GPH dripper every 12 inches, one 1.2" mainline can handle around 240 feet total (but 1/4" dripline probably has to be split into 6, 40-foot lengths).
P.E. .600 ID x .700 OD , probably 0.050" wall thickness,
I can't copy-paste a table here, but maybe it will be semi-readable:
¾" Mainline 0.940" OD 0.830 ID 0.055 wall 8 gpm = 480 GPH
½" Mainline 0.700 OD 0.600 ID 0.050 wall 4 gpm = 240 GPH
¼ " Rigid Riser PE DIG 0.300 OD 0.160 ID 0.070 wall
¼ " Micro Tubing PE 0.250 OD 0.170 ID 0.040 wall 0.67 gpm = 40? GPH
¼ " Micro Tubing Vinyl 0.220 OD 0.160 ID 0.030 wall max 30 PSI
⅛" PE tubing 0.187 OD 0.125 ID 0.031 wall ?? gpm??
The adjustable-flow Shrubblers are nice, and they reduce evaporation and "blowing" by spraying "fingers" of water instead of a fine mist. But they do tend to water a small spot very heavily.
Mini-jet sprayers with smaller flow rates and longer throw distance might be vulnerable to wind and evaporation, but you get more square feet per sprayhead, and can run the water for 60 minutes instead of 10 minutes.
Dripline or drip tape is supposed to be preferred by experts with large beds and long rows, and you can run those for hours without over-watering.
>> recently bought a bunch of different drip emitters, sprayers & even some misters.
I'm gadget-happy so I love fiddling with my sprayers, spinners, drippers and spitters. I think you are smart to use drippers, and any kind of mulch would probably help your efficiency and soil temperatures a lot.
Have you found the 1/8" "Spot Spitters" yet? They came from John Deere / Roberts, but I guess "Primerus" markets them now. .
I love the spray-one-pot idea and their cheapness, but hate having to use 1/8" Tees and adapters that cost as much as the spitter itself. They combine the stake and the sprayer in one little stick. They come as small as 2.4 GPH (0.04 GPM) or up to 12 GPH, and have a few basic spray patterns.
If it were possible to glue Polyethylene, I would try to drill and glue some kind of 6 or 8-way splitter so that I could run one 1/4" tube to the splitter, and then run 8 1/8" "spaghetti tubes" from there.
My favorite toy is a mini-spinner whirl-a-gig ("Rotor-Spray Mini-Sprinkler"), but I have no practical use for one. Even my smallest throws too much water (10 PGH), over too wide an area (17' diameter). It's almost a lawn sprinkler. But for $1.40 each, I had to try a few sizes.
My thinking is now that I would rather buy fixed-flow-rate sprayers and just figure out the right right flow rate for each spot, rather than fiddle with the adjustable flow rate sprayers that cost five times as much.
There is always some over-spray, but if the soil around my beds was never watered at all, it would go bone-dry and suck all the water and nutrients right out of my beds.
I cut and pasted this all into word so my engineer husband could read and interpret it in light of my needs. I really appreciate the input as I didn't want to buy a ton of stuff that I couldn't use after I got it. Which is my usual MO -- I usually try to repurpose stuff but don't have anything that would even come close on this except those drip hoses which pump out great at the beginning and by the end of the line are wimpy.
I will let you know what D says and will research all the next urls. Thanks again.
>> I didn't want to buy a ton of stuff that I couldn't use
I'm the opposite. My eyes open wide like a kid at Christmas. "Gadgets!! Oh, boy!!!"
Not many places want to sell "onesies" when a fair price would be 20-30 cents each. If you want to try some mini-jet sprayers, let me know (I have gobs I probably won't use in this lifetime).
I didn't see any Tees or Ys in that kit, and I do proselytize those as you know. I don't know if I have extras right now, but it would be a good excuse to go back to that wholesaler who, for some reason, IS willing to sell onesies.
Ok, it's Friday night & my little ones are wreaking havok so real quick for now...Thank you Rick for all of the data on the drip lines/ tubing! I still have the "instruction manual" for my system which details all of the specifications but I clearly do not know the "ins-and-outs" like you. Wish I had an engineer in the family too, LOL. I'm an accountant, I'll figure it out...eventually.
Anyway, that system you posted (Oberon46) looks ok for starts! You said that your beds are about 25' from the faucet so this kit should accommodate that just fine. I think it might be lacking "goof plugs", and the drip emitter & sprayers that Rick mentioned. But those can be purchases on the cheap. You might need more 1/4" drip tubing as well but only you will know.
Thanks John. I am also an accountant, management not public, and this sort of thing give me a headache. My mind stops registering details about 5 lines in. Now give me a complicated spreadsheet or database, or an accounting application with lots of bells and whistles to automate and I am in piggy heaven. Love downloading data into both Excel and Access and then building reports that are tailored to my interests. Canned programs are so limiting.
But yeah, I love tinkering with spreadsheets too. The company that I work for is currently going through a large system conversion, and our new accounting system will most likely have its share of "canned" reports... :/ I need to learn SQL or something fast, Lol.
Anyway, let us know how your drip irrigation project goes, if you decide to go that route!
My son manages a database for the military (army helicopters). Proprietary thing that he calls a 'dirty database" meaning lots of problems. Programmers built it with no real knowledge of the way it would be used or the type of data that would be put in fields; little in the way of controls to limit types of data input in a particular field. So without consistency you get problems with reports not producing what you want. He also does not know SQL to build queries. I know just enough to run my little home database. And can build formulae (if, then statements) that will get me the response I want. He isn't much into formulae either. I managed to remind him that he can use the "" when looking for a null field that needs to be populated, or even a "4-5-14" to find fields that don't have the date they should have. Those things should work in most databases if you can get past the shell.
Drip system: Damien seems to feel that we could cut up our drip hoses into 8' lengths then using connectors just put a straight section on each end to feed those lengths (probably four each bed). I suggested making both end pieces capable of hooking to the hose to assure equal watering on both ends, switching from one to the other each time I water. Also he said our water pressure would not allow feeding all three at once. So a manual timer on each, and watering one at a time. Not as spiffy as a real drip system but less fearsome and certainly less costly. We'll see. My objective is to get the water tothe deep soil to encourage roots to grow down and deep. I can always use the mister on the hose to get some humidity up in the one with tops, or even over the other plants without tops.
>> I suggested making both end pieces capable of hooking to the hose to assure equal watering on both ends, switching from one to the other each time I water.
If the dripline is "pressure compensating", it is probably not a problem. I would have guessed that an 8' run would have very little pressure drop. If it was a 25' run in 1/4" dripline, THEN I would worry.
If the 1/2" mainline is cheap enoguh, and if you DO need to equalize the pressure over an 8' run, here's aother possibility: run two lengths of 1/2" mainline and permanently attach BOTH ends of the dripline to a mainline.
But again: I thought that was more of an issue over 20 feet, or 30+ feet for pressure-compensating drippers. Of course 1/2" dripline and driptape can run MUCH farther distances.
>> Also he said our water pressure would not allow feeding all three at once. So a manual timer on each, and watering one at a time.
A separate timer for every zone is great: you don't have to remember to switch valves around. Or, put a valve on every zone and only open one valve at a time. You could water all 4 zones in 2 hours if you swap the valves every 30 minutes. Or water one zone per day, and then you have all day to remember which valve to open next.
I don't know about pressure compensating. I have long ago lost the paperwork on them. And visually it is difficult to tell. they are more like round 1/2" soaker hoses rather than real drip lines. So I would need to use horsehoe shaped 'staples' about 3" long and 2" across the top to make sure they don't inadvertently dig up my seedlings as I lay the strips out.
If they are 1/2" drip lines, I think you could run them for lots more than 30 feet without losing pressure. Was the whole dripline 50 feet?
How about a test? Lay down the whole length of dripline that you have and attach one end to water pressure. If water comes out the other end at high enough pressure, you could run one length over the whole bed in a serpentine pattern.
You could "test the pressure" by screwing a Shrubler onto the far ned of the dripline. Open it up wide. If it sprays almost as far as one screwed into the mainline, you have plenty of pressure.
Good tests. D is currently pounding down some rebar and cutting my conduit to make the framework for my trellis'. Poor guy. I am being no help at all. And he is also remodeling our bedroom. He is at the stage where carpet is up, Killz has been applied to puppy piddle spots, the lid has been painted. The hard part will be the wood flooring. I hate to put any more on him so I will haul out the seeper hose and take a good look at it, then head to Home Depot to look at their parts and pieces for drip lines.
I guess you got the dripline somewhere else? I only saw Shrubblers, not dripline in this kit.
>> So I would need to use horsehoe shaped 'staples' about 3" long and 2" across the top to make sure they don't inadvertently dig up my seedlings as I lay the strips out.
Maybe if you laid the dripline out first, somewhere else, on a sunny day, and let it soften so it lays flat, you could lay it down in your beds without mashing the seedlings? Maybe with a helper?
P.S. If you find cheap 1 GPH drippers or 1/2 GPH drippers at a hardware store o4r hydro shop, you can use them to terminate short runs of 1/4" dripline. Just plug one into the end of the dripline and it becomes another dripper. I mention that because a bag of ten drippers might not cost much more than 10 goof plugs.
Once I got my dripline into place, it stayed put. of course, I was too impatient to straighten it out first, so I laid it down in a spiral pattern and planted around it. I did have to use "staples" or twigs to pin it down where I wanted to make a sharper bend. I could probably have used a hair dryer to make the bends but again, I was impatient.
Then I changed over to mini-sprayers because they were easier to swap in and out and re-aim and adjust. And I could tell how much water I was applying, whereas drippers put most of their water straight down where I couldn't see it.
Or maybe I use sprayers because they are more fun!
Tolkien said "Go not to the Elves for advice, for the will say both 'Yes' and 'No'".
When it is SOMEONE ELSE doing the work, I have a million ideas.
When I'm doing the work, I have a thousand ideas and try to test dozens of them.
That's a plan for not getting much practical done, but at least when i DO get around some work in the spring, I usually do something practical until most of the beds are planted, and THEN I fritter my time on wack-a-doodle projects.
If I was going to try to think about a PRACTICAL suggestion for the first year irrigating, it would probably be "do what's easiest, and find out if you need to make any changes".
Maybe let the seedlings get tall enough that you won't crush them with the dripline.
Well, I finally bit the bullet and ordered a it from Dripworks. It is for three raised beds, 3x8' and is just a drip line so no emitters and such. It is pretty dummy proof but I will still let Damien install it as I could mess up on that even. Well, not mess up, but not do the optimal job. Should be here in a week or so and not to late to install. It will be just four 8' driplines down the beds ( 1/4") with 1/2" header lines at each end. Also ordered some highpressure short hose links about 5' long to get away from the faucet by the house. It is too snugged up to allow for the apparatus (filters, connectors, etc) that has to be installed. I still put my covers on the beds at times as it was down to 39 last night and for several days before we had rain., cold, and pretty high winds. Clear blue today so the plants should take off. Put two pots with water plants in the pond. That was my big effort. So glad James (son) is here on Friday to help me. He will also help Damien on redoing the master bedroom. Only been 20 years here (and heaven only knows how long before that) but the rest of the house and roof, and insulation, and new boiler, and ,and took precedence.
I love putting extra spigots wherever I want them, using a Tee with a male hose thread, then a 2-valve Y fitting onto the Tee. That way you can branch the irrigation mainline AND attach a garden hose at the same spot, and shut either one off, creating "zones".
zones would probably be a good idea. I figured I could do some modification once I got the basic set up in place. During our short monsoon I kept the beds covered so I could control how wet they got. Too much rain can flood them out pretty well and right now they are too small to take that much water. Or I think so. It is clear skies to day so I will take the ends up to allow air flow and some direct sun to get inside.
Our ambient temps sound like yours in the spring. Still are unless we actually get some sun then it warms up to the 60's or 70's, like 71F maybe. I would think, depending on the size beds you have, that controlling how much moisture they get might be key to preventing the rotting. I would rot peas also if planted in the spring (mid may to mid june) soil. Just to cold and wet.
Well, it arrived. Can hardly wait to get it installed. My husband is headed off to Chitna for salmon dipnetting Tuesday or Wednesday so hope he has time to deal with this before he goes. It is a pretty simple system but I don't want to take any chances on not optimizing the set up and he is very good at that.
And yet it sits on the garage floor neatly rolled up in its shipping box. To be fair he tore out bedroom apart and re did a lot of crappy original carpentry by the builder. It is done now and of course the season is over so guess it will go in next year.
My garden tomatoes were destroyed by aphids and they darned near destroyed my zuchini plants also. The flower buds were covered with aphids which I think severely offput the bees that would have pollinated the female blooms. Crapdoodle. But I finally tore out all the tomatoes and sprayed with zukes so I am getting some now.
So back to the drawing board over the long winter as to what to plant and where. Zukes will go in tubs not the raised beds. I will try the tomatoes again, just not 12 plants. More beans, cycle planting lettuce stuff. sigh. no end to it.
At least you saved putting it out one week and then rolling it up and putting it away for the winter a week later.
I (foolishly) never got around to a complete draining of my system, yet it survived several hard freezes and months hovering around freezing. Even the wind-up timer came through unharmed despite being so frozen I couldn't unscrew the hose threads.
But your winters are much colder than mine.
P.S. about aphids:
I was told that re-soaking spent coffee grounds makes a "weak coffee" that is a potent anti-insect spray that
“can be used to kill all kinds of scales, mealy bugs, aphids, white flies, and even spider mites on any plant.”
He put the grounds into a big barrel and then left it in the sun for a few days, like “solar tea”.
Thanks Rick. Maybe I should cook some up and drench the raised beds now. I heard that the aphids lay their eggs one fall to hatch the next spring. I know they are outdoors as they destroy birch trees from year to year so maybe the would kill any that have infested my beds. If not, then in the spring for sure I would treat them before planting.
>> It sounds like a process with a lot of careful planning involved.
If the raised bed walls are moveable, you can keep changing your mind and relocating the bed.
Tweaking the width and shape is easy: just shovel soil away from edges you want to make narrower, and move the walls in. Move the walls away where you want it beigger, and shovel soil over there to back-fill.
Major moves mean you need to wheelbarrow all the soil and walls to the new location, but that's surprisingly easy if you can do it when soil is not soaking wet.
My raised beds are now through their third summer. I have added compost, peat, vermiculite the first year, then compost and home made mulch the second year. The soil is settling and I am getting concerned about getting a heavy layer down lower that will not be good for drainage. The beds were built on grass that I covered with cardboard and are 18" deep. I covered them with several inches of mulch this fall but am wondering if that contributes to heaviness. Certainly it adds nutrients along with some bat guano and chicken manure. Should I be adding more vermiculite to lighten it up. Ideas? Oh, and next year I will set up my drip system as we just didn't get to it this year. I have purchased it and think it will work well although lack of water doesn't seem to be a problem most of the time. I have purchased seeds that seem to do well here and will plant some things in the farthest bed that need more sun and warmth, like beans. Lettuce does very well in the beds closer to the house and with a bit more shade.
The "no till" zealots will say you don't need to deep-till, that worms will do it for you.
Me, if it gets dense and clayey down below 18", I want to deep-turn it with a sharpshooter spade. That long blade does the work of double-digging with just one turn.
I like to mix compost into the deeper layers and also "fork them up" to get some air back into those layers. If I have it, I also mix in some ground bark, crushed rock or very coarse sand to maintain the open structure longer for next time.
If the only problem is that the soil is settling, then the lost organic matter must be replaced. Mixing that in should "fluff up" the top 18" and indeed, maybe 18" is all that most plants really need.
Often it is easier to "build up" rather than improve deep aeration. Instead of improving the soil structure deeper than 18", can you add another board or course of bricks to your raised bed wall? An extra 6" up is as good as an extra 6" down.
I hope you don't have as many pests as last year! Maybe some pest-predators will have learned to hang out around your bed and eat the bad insects as they arrive.
that may be what is happening. Plus when I dig up plants (vegies) for grinding some dirt always comes with them. I am laying several inches of compost and ground leaves on top and will 'fluff' it up next spring. Maybe add a little compost. and vermiculite. Don't have sand or crushed rock available. thanks rick.
Oh, and I don't have clay much. Just good old garden dirt.
The only experience I have is with heavy clay soil, very heavy clay soil, and clay.
Hopefully worms will drag bits of your mulch down underground during Fall and Spring.
Once I had one little tiny bed - one square yard with 16" tall walls. I amended it much better than any other bed I had, because I had been told that "bulbs need good drainage".
Well, part of that amendment was compost, I mean, like 50% compost or maybe even 60%. Bulbs did great that year. But next spring, the soil level had dropped about 50% and drainage was back to "very poor or bad".
That compost must have been the first organic matter that those soil microbes had been given since the last three owners moved out or in! They ate it right up.
>> You would think with all the amendments you use that it would eventually (hopefully in your life time lol) reconstitute it.
I think it's more like "I KNOW that I don't buy enough compost for my beds, and my plants and I just have to live with the consequences of my cheapness".
Or I could clear everything out of my car and put down the back seat so I can fit more than one bag of leaves in the trunk. Then drive around to find some neighborhoods with deciduous trees. Then check those frequently for bags of leaves left in the street.
I bet I would find out how active the Neighborhood Watch is in those neighborhoods! In the park where I live, you can't scratch your nose without a dozen neighbors knowing which fingers you used.
I had a raised bed in CA and it was built out of concrete block, had it for 14 years.
I have been working on a new one that is 8' x 40' to go with the four 6' x 19' bed i built last year. We keep running out of space. I put down a base of gravel and compacted it. Once level stacking the block is easy and fast. We went with two rows high and filled the cores of the block with 1/2" gravel.
They have good drainage and are easy to weed if you chose not to use mulch. I use loads of that stuff, I don't like to weed.
Here in N. Arkansas we have big weather swings and raised beds are the only way to go, they don't call this state rock-en saw for no reason.