I hope to post a few pics of the SFG construction - we already have most of the planting done and have veggies and flowers growing - most of the veggies and herbs are growing very quickly! Even have a few strawberries already and crookneck squashes are forming! Pics of those maybe later in the spring.
this is the wood cut to length, ready for pilot hole drilling;
here you can see how the frame is assembled - Mel calls it 'rotating the corners' in his book. I used coarse thread deck screws. If I had use 1x6 I THINK I woulda used a bracket or angle brace - just to decrease the liklihood of splitting or pulling out of the wood when carrying the frame to its spot or in future with age/weathering etc. Lots of places have 'raised bed' angle brackets in addition to normal hardware for similar applications.
1/3 part vermiculite (coarse if you can find it) 1/3 part peat moss (we got canadian sphagnum from Lowes or HD ) and the final 1/3 should be made of 5 types of compost. We got close I think - Cow, sheep, mushroom and the rest was worm casting and compost from our compost tumbler. I WISH I had gotten some poultry compost(chicken or turkey manure) - but it wasn't yet available when we were filling the boxes.
We just layered stuff in the tarp and pulled the corners and sides back and forth till it looked uniform;
we dampened the components some as we mixed, you'll defintiely wanna do this if its at all windy, but we tried to not use too much water as the tarp would be very heavy - we DID water well after placing the mix in the frames;
we built 3 boxes - these 2 will get veggies and are at the south end of the backyard - this view faces westerly. The other box get flowers and is more in the middle of the backyard, unfortunately, none of them will get a solid 6-8 hours of direct light, but hopefully enough to grow a few veggies!
here's a sample of some of the products we used, behind the bags you can see where I used some slats from old aluminum mini-blinds for the grid. I drilled and pop riveted them and then just nailed them down. They can be written on with a Sharpie too.
We have his most recent book though earlier books are widely available used. The main difference from earlier books seems to be the use of a pre-mix media and NO use of your existing soil. Makes it a little more expensive in the beginning but less labor and less reliance on odd/unknown/varying soil conditions I guess. Plus, the website even has updated stuff over even the latest book. For instance, the book says to only plant 3 strawberries per 4 squares. But evidently he has some good experience with as many as 4 plants in 1 square! (i wonder if the cultivar is what matters?)
I bought the new book a few weeks ago. Haven't got started on them yet, though. I've been clearing an area on my side yard to put one, but I want to make sure I get the bermuda as dead as I can underneath, and I'm going to put a bottom on my box, or a bunch of cardboard and weed cloth.
Getting lots of stawberries now - nice looking and some large. We have used herbs (basil, oregano and parsley) a couple times. And we ate a salad with some lettuce we grew. Some stuff is growing slowly - maybe not warm enough yet.
still sacrificing spinach to the Sow Bugs (roly-polies)
this is how the trellis looks on 2 of the SFGs. There are pieces of 1/2" 'rebar' hammered halfway in the gound on either side of the north end of the beds. Then 1/2" steel electrical conduit is slide over them and a cross piece attached with standard conduit connectors. The trellis came from ebay about 5' x 15' IIRC.
I was wondering if you have put a "bottom" on the frame?
My backyard is small and covered in red bricks, no dirt what-so-ever.
Trying to work-out how I can keep gardening in such a small area with bricks. ANY idea's would be well received, by the way, I am on a disability pension so it has to be cheap! lol.
Fellow gardener without dirt, Debi.
The frames were sited over lawn grass. However, many plants do fine with only 5-6 inches of soil. Carrots and the like would require more depth I suppose. Any chnace of pulling the bricks up in the frame area?
As for cost and , perhaps, methodes easier for some diabled persons, check into 'straw bale' gardening and 'container' gardening. I believe they both have threads here and I will post links if I can fine them. Both of them have the advantage or requiring MUCH less bending or reaching.
degarotty spring of last year i moved to a new place where the only grass was crabgrass. even in the 2 existing raised planters. i pulled off the top 6 inches of soil and put down 2 layers of commercial grade weedblock and refilled the beds with compost and soil. the crabgrass came right through it soooo, not having the time or money to erradicate the crabgrass i replaced the weedblock with some pondliner i had. i wasn't sure how this would work out in the wet and dry seasons but figured i had nothing to lose. they actually worked quite well and i've since added 7 more beds. last winter i grew a short variety of carrot that did ok and in the spring i added another 6 inches to a couple of the beds and grew some decent sweet potatoes. you shouldn't have any problem dropping frames right on top of the bricks and growing most veggies in 6 inches of soil.
You probably already know this, or it may be irrelevant to sandy subsoil in Florida. (I'm kind of obsessed about drainage.)
In poorly-draining soil, it would be advantageous to slope the floor of the bed towards the downhill edge or a trench, before laying down pond liner. Excess water should have a chance to drain away from your bed rather than form a water-logged poorly-aerated puddle under your root zone.
I shape the floors of my new small beds so that they drain towards one or more very shallow trenches UNDER the bed, to carry excess water down and out of the bed into a real drainage trench. (I have rain 8 months per year and heavy, heavy clay that holds water almost as well as plastic film.)
You don't want water to drain down into a puddle right under your raised bed and stay there! Roots will drown in that puddle after rain or watering. Then, once it dries out again, more roots will grow into it, and die off again at the next rain. So it's worse than just losing some depth of root zone.
A puddle like that under your bed WOULD be a reservoir of water which might be convenient for arid regions where you want to wqater as seldom as possible. (Like an "Earth Bucket".)
If you water very consistently, lightly, and tend to have a no-rain summer, poor drainage might not kill any roots, but if you water consistently, you don't NEED a water reservoir under your soil.
I think that even raised beds benefit from well-drained soil under them. If well-drained, that layer improves as roots and worms burrow into it, and organics soak into it. After a few years, without any extra digging, you'll have a root zone that is not only raised, but also sunken below grade.
I put some of my more tender plants (ones I had lots of ) out in the raised bed covered with poly. The weather forcast said said lows above 30 at night. It got down to 27. I probably lost two or three of the more tender. I always wanted to try the hot water in milk jugs as a method of keeping the temp up a bit. I just put four jugs in the one bed. It has 10' pvc bent in a hoop, 4x8' in size. Temp went from 27F to 29.3F in just a few minutes. Am also watching the humidity. I left off the tops to get it humid figuring that the humidity would help raise the temp. I really don't see how it could help over an entire night unless I put so many jugs in there that there was no room for the plants. Even then, would it last all night? Don't see how. But it is an interesting experiment. I suppose I could throw quilts over the top of the structure. Next think you know I will have my heating blanket out there plugged in.
Oberon46 wrote:I put some of my more tender plants (ones I had lots of ) out in the raised bed covered with poly. The weather forecast said said lows above 30 at night. It got down to 27. I probably lost two or three of the more tender. I always wanted to try the hot water in milk jugs as a method of keeping the temp up a bit. I just put four jugs in the one bed. It has 10' pvc bent in a hoop, 4x8' in size. Temp went from 27F to 29.3F in just a few minutes. Am also watching the humidity. I left off the tops to get it humid figuring that the humidity would help raise the temp. I really don't see how it could help over an entire night unless I put so many jugs in there that there was no room for the plants. Even then, would it last all night? Don't see how. But it is an interesting experiment. I suppose I could throw quilts over the top of the structure. Next think you know I will have my heating blanket out there plugged in.
if you could safely put a 100w light bulb in there, that would be best. The problem is, the lowest temp will occur just before sunrise, long after the thermal mass of the hot water has cooled. And best to leave the lids on as evaporation will speed cooling of the jug. But, a light bulb (like used as a drop light in a garage for working under a car or similar) that isn't touching a plant, plastic or the wooden frame, will be pumping heat out as long as it's on. Will it be enough? hard to say but quite possible.
I had forgotten about that. Might not have been too good an idea to make the hoops the full 10', gives me a tall pitch of about 3'. I thought it would be easier to work in. but since I have to take the 'lid' off to work on the plants any way. "seemed like a good idea at the time." Also was thinking of the taller stuff like tomatoes, and stuff that climbs like cukes, beans, peas etc. Beans and peas are bush but they still get about 24" tall if properly staked or supported. I will check out the bulb idea with DH. He is an engineer and maybe be able to compute what I need. Either than or my DD who is a drafter but does computations for HVAC type stuff also.
And you were right. The heat rose for about an hour, at which time the sun took over. I wonder if I could set the bulbs on a timer and have them come on around midnight. Or I could stay up all one night and take hourly readings. Yuk.
>> I suppose I could throw quilts over the top of the structure.
Insulation is key to temperature control. Plastic film is not a good insulator, it mostly prevents air flow from carrying away heat instantly. If it is tight enough to prevent ALL drafts, that's as much as it can do. It slows down the rate at which heat escapes (heat from soil, heat from hot-water-jugs, and constant heat inoput from a 100 watt bulb or coffee warmer).
The sealed plastic film cut down on convection (air flow), which I think is the biggest method of losing heat in a cold breeze.
By preventing cold DRY breezes from evaporating water from leaves, film prevents heat lost by evapotranspiration, if that's the right word. That's probably the second or third biggest heat loss from living plants..
I THINK that film also heps reduce heat lost through radiation. Isn't infrared reflected back by the film, as in "the greenhosue effect"? But I think that "radiation" is the smallest way (4th?) heat is lost from cool soil and leaves.
A quilt will improve your insulation. A quilt will reduce the amount of heat conducted through the film. I THINK that's the third or second smallest loss.
I do have a small heater called a vortex. But I have three raised beds and I would be afraid, even with the thermostat that it would get too warm. I like the idea of the lightbulb and a thermostat. I have a heating mat for seedlings with the sensor attached to a thermostat. It would be interesting to see if it were connected to a light bulb rather than the heating mat if it would work. Just let the sensor hang in the air to judge the temp. I will have to try that. Interesting idea. I love experimenting. But I will restrict the plants I experiment on. I lost several on the prior experiment. Thanks for the idea.
I suppose the downside is that plants need a time of darkness to grow properly. But if you are right about it being coldest before morning, the bulbs may stay off part of the time until the beds cool down. The interior was 80F yesterday afternoon around 5 pm.
also, those small heaters are unlikely to have a lower limit as low as 40 degrees. I bet they won't go below 60.
Just be sure whatever output the heating mat gets from it's controller, you don't place a load on it that is greater/inappropriate or the controller may burn out. I suspect from what you wrote, your husband will know if it's a workable solution for you.
A timer and a bulb may be enough. If you are concerned about the light, I think reptile keepers have ceramic 'bulbs' with a heating element wrapped around them that will screw into a standard Edison socket. No light, just heat.
I am already straining every circuit I have. The breakers blow out every so often when I start up the pond pumps, the shelves with 10 T12 flourescents each (two sets of shelves), 8 shop lights 48" T12's. I even take over the outside plug in running a cord under the garage door to where my husband plugs his car in in the winter to run his block heater. My daughter keeps warning me that the circuits are a warning - duh. I know. There are no more circuits open in the panel. We would have to install a new breaker box for more circuits. The house is only 30 or so years old but under powered. Add to that computers, printers, copiers, large screen tv, etc and that's about it. I should start using candles. Will let you know how it goes.
My daughter is moving to Houston later this year. She says I will now have a place to visit in the winter. lol. About the only time I could possibly take your heat.
the heat can be brutal, but, encourage your daughter to get some nice tropicals for you to enjoy, brugmansias, plumerias, etc. If you get down here before October or so, you might get to enjoy them too!
Her boyfriend is a gardener also. He has two small lemon trees, a pineapple tree with a pineapple on it, plus tomatoes and such. No flowers though. She is fretting about how to get all of her houseplants down there. She is driving and also shipping some things. I have a plumeria that does well with the leaves, then loses them all. I finally put it in the garage and ignored it. It is about 50 in there in the winter. It started to grow again, so I watered it. Will see what happens. I don't mind not having flowers but wish it would at least keep its leaves. I check the water with a moisture meter to be sure not to overwater. Just not sure why it goes wacky on me sometimes.
Oberon, last November my closest friend woke up in the night and the house was on fire. The house was a total loss. And she lost the housecats, the housedogs, and 9 5-week-old puppies. My friend escaped with the t-shirt she was wearing and her socks. .The fire marshal determined it was an overloaded breaker.
So exactly how much would it cost to get a new electric panel put in?
SH----!! I am so very sorry for your friend. That is beyond awful. I agree. I guess I need to talk to D again about the panel. I haven't popped a breaker since I got the load balanced out but I really have to come up with a solution. Thanks (sort of) for the life's lesson.
Well, we are holding at low 20's at night. This is really bad. I bought three work light reflectors (those aluminum things about 12" in diameter that can take a 150W bulb. I have two in one bed and one plus a grow light in the other. It is holding the temps up to 32, about 10 degrees warmer than outside. I am leaving for Ireland next Sunday and don't know what I will do if my dahlias an other plants cannot go outside. My MIL will have her hands full just trying to keep the stuff alive til I return.