I was talking with several people yesterday at the plant swap about my raised bed vegetable garden and how I did a few things. Here are some pictures that will help explain so of the things we were talking about. I chose this method for a lot of reasons but mostly because old short fat people shouldn't be gardening on their hands and knees and I didn't like the native soil composition. This is the first time I've done the raised beds and so far, it has proven to be very easy. Down side is that I have a great rototiller and can't use it here. I may have to go rototill a vacant lot across the street!
The main bed in the foreground has a planting area that measures approx. 19' x 4'. The one in the background has similar square footage. The height is about 18" to 20" from the ground.
I haven't read the "Square Foot Gardener" but I am trying my version of the concept. I have planted melons and other vines at the corners so they can drape over the sides and run along the ground. I tried to follow a companion planting sequence. In this pic there are nasturiums in the corners and you can see the X pattern in between the hills where I harvested radishes yesterday.
This is "Tomato Row". I have 15 plants and 10 varieties. I'm trying to find a few that will do well here in the AZ climate. I planted in containers so they can be moved during the hotter summer months to a more sheltered area and hopefully survive until fall.
The raised bed in the background is planted with asparagas, garlic, lettuce, and more vines (watermelons, cantaloupe, casaba, butternut and very soon, pumpkins).
Wow Dan!! This is really neat to see. (of course, I have to mention that your spotless ground amazes me as well...I have debris and stuff everywhere, lol). I can't wait to see your garden in full production...you're going to have such a lush covering in there!
Uhm in the "hot bed" East-West orientation and from left to right: a teeny-tiny pineapple sage, squash, broccoli (underplanted for when its too hot for broccoli is tomatillo and watermelon), grape tomato and then pear tomato. Oh, and sunflowers lots of sunflowers.
Wow, I'm totally digging your raised beds too, Dann_L. They are very tidy. I have raised beds too for veggies but they are NOT neat and tidy. LOL
I also am really envious of your watering system. I have to hand water mine. Can you connect a system like yours to a garden hose? I buried a seep hose under the mulch, but it doesn't really do the trick. Do you have a problem with salt build up on your system?
No salt build up yet. But then the system is only a month or two old. I've been watering by hand while I have been building the system. I still have to set up the automatic metering device. I'll post pic's when completed, probably next weekend.
Other side, (can you tell that I have a VERY difficult time thinning. I get so excited that something even came up that I just let them duke it out. I'm sure thats bad for my yield.)--Also, painted everything in sight purple after seeing pictures of Fishie's garden early this spring :-))
This is my "cool bed" n/s orientation shade in afternoon. I have from l-r: tiny baby basils, catnip, broccoli with squash, spinach interplanted with strawberries, a rose and cilantro with --you guessed, it more squash.
Dann, very, very nice raised beds ! I am getting physically challenged by my neuropathy and that looks like it would work for me. Did you just stack your blocks up or how did you hold them together( spit, cement)?
What are your big black tubs for your tomatoes made from?? Those are wonderful !
Stephanie...your beds look fantastic too! i'm so glad there's several veggie growers on here now!!
Question...have either of you done carrots in your raised beds? We don't have any in the main garden right now, but my son's favorite veggie is carrots, so I was thinking of doing a small "carrot plot" but instead of in the ground, doing it raised...what do you think?
Hi corgimom...I started with a shallow (4") concrete foundation embedded with 1/2" re-bar. Then it's just blocks and brick mortar. The tomatoes are planted in a variety of black plastic landscaping tree tubs. I have 6-7 gallon, 3-4 gallon and 6-15 gallon containers.
Hello Brenda...Welcome back. How did Tony do this weekend? After seeing the way your pond is progressing I have no doubts that some fantastic raised beds will follow!
Hey Kim...In the 1st 3 photo's there is a 2'x2' patch of carrots next to the zucchini. I laid it out in 2" squares and planted at each corner. I think there is about 150 carrots in that little patch. The planting directions on the seed packet said to thin the seedlings to 2" apart so I'm just running with that to see what happens. As they grow larger I'll thin out the baby fingerling carrots and make a little more room for the others to grow to full size.
Hi Dann, thanks for asking... he got second in both competitions (2 days, 2 competitions), and he hates second place, but he rode really well and he's in a more difficult class this year... so it was actually very good. This is so off topic, but I also tried to compete again this weekend, and my bike *hated* the high altitude and kept stalling, so I quit... getting the hated "DNF"... (did not finish). Oh well, hung out with the dogs in the Coach, took some good photos, enjoyed the scenery!
The raised bed I'm planting has been sitting behind our house in a neglected area for a long, long time. I came home to the tomatoes looking very happy, and on the opposite end is my day lily garden and I have a bunch of buds!!!!!!! Lots to plant this week as well! You all are inspiring me on the veggies!
Steph...I'm still trying to figure out what works and what doesn't work, and when, here in AZ. It's so different than what I am acustom to. I say go for it and let us know how you do. Or you can wait until the end of August and plant for a fall crop, in which case you can still keep us posted because we would all like to know!
Brenda...I can understand Tony's frustration with being 2nd but the guy that took 3rd place is even more frustrated. :o) As for your efforts, it's better to try and fail than to have not tried at all. Hang in there girl!!
Inspiration for vegetable gardening springs eternal from Kim!
Stephanie, I say plant them now. I'm going to make a little raised area this weekend (especially for Wyatt & his carrots, lol)...they are pretty much a year 'round crop here.
Dan, I have a neat list of planting times that I made a few years back for a veggie seminar I got suckered into giving at the nursery. I'll have to make a copy for you...might take some of that guess-work out because we truly have about 10 1/2 good veggie months here!!!
OK...I'll have to see if it was one of the files that I managed to save when my computer crashed last week...otherwise, I'll just re-type it up for you, lol.
Cruddy news about my digital camera. As if it wasn't enough to have my pc crash last week, my digital camera has also gone kapoot...*scream*...whenever I turn it on, it makes a grinding sound, which can't be good, lol. So, it may be a little while until I get to post some new garden pics, artichoke pics, etc...I'm so bummed about this. I'll have to see if I can borrow my sister's camera or something to show my yard progress!!
I think that one of the reasons I like vegetable gardening so much is the speed at which things grow. I leave the house in the morning and when I get back in the afternoon everything has grown several inches.
Deb has been trimming the spinach about twice a week and getting close to a pound each time from two 4' rows. I've been pruning the beet tops and putting them into salads and yesterday harvested half dozen beets to thin them out a little. Both the pole beans and the bush beans have produced harvest-able beans now too. Everything else is developing nicely...carrots, zucchini, eggplants, tomatoes etc..
Here's a pic of yesterdays take. Not a lot, but then there is just the 2 of us. Anyone have a good recipe for beet greens?
WOw Dan! Those beets look delish!! I love beets...we just planted some more this morning in fact.
As for beet greens...I like them fresh in salads too, or even "wilted" (lightly steamed). I make this yummy recipe that a friend of mine's mom gave me back in high school (they were from Africa). Anyway...you usually do it with collard greens, but I've found it taste amazing with any green (I especially love mustards & turnips), so I'd think it'd work with a lot of beet greens too.
Anyway...Collard Green (or Beet Green) Stew
* Wash the greens & de-vein if they are thick veined
* Put in large/deep skillet with about a cup of water & a can of veggie broth...cover & simmer to wilt (I usually add a little s&p and sometimes a teeny bit of bullion)
***IF you like meats, you can boil a chicken breast (with a little seasoning of your choice) and then shred it & set aside.
* While the beets are cooking, make rice. You can make minute-rice or steam other rice...whichever you prefer.
* When the greens are finished wilting (do NOT let them cook dry), add the shredded chicken breast & the rice.
It makes an amazing soupy mixture...yummm...I hope you like it!
Woo-hoo, Dan! Just the motivation I need to do more, more, more veggies! I think I'm a bit behind the curve but I'm planting some 6" tall peppers today, an eggplant, a couple zuchini and - if I can find one - a pickling cucumber.
I love beet greens, too, but I usually just cook 'em like I would spinach or chard. A drizzle of butter and a tiny splash of balsamic vinegar is a good addition for added flavor.
At the last house I did do raised bed carrots. Not the really long ones but not short either. They did great. Take a long time so you have to get them in I think it was early fall. The cold didn't hurt them. Yummy.
I will be planting some sweet potato vines soon. At our elevation you can plant this veggie till June 20th. Just cut a sweet potato in half, place each half cut-side down in a dish of water till vines develop (you guys remember this trick from the 60's macrame days right??) then plant in the garden.
Lindagarden, when you finally catch up to your Master Gardener book, check page 33 in Chapter 10, it says you can plant carrots July 15 to Aug 15 and again Sept 1 to Jan 1.
Dan...I wanted to tell you that you inspired me, and I made 3 "raised" boxes!!!! I realized that we forgot to leave room for any root veggies...so I had these stackable wooden bins I had salvaged from my days at Berridge (they were what the display of daffodil bulbs were held in)...anyway, they make great little planters! So, one is turnips, one is carrots & one is beets...here's what they look like w/o any visible life yet, lol...
I was going through my seed packets this morning and found a packet of sweet corn that I must have purchased earlier this year. So I decided that I would try planting corn where I was going to put some more onions. I can always plant more onions after I harvest the corn in late July. The space that I had reserved measures 8' x 30". I spread a layer of Mary McP Brand Llama Yamma and turned it in the top 6" of soil. Then I laid out a 12" x 10" grid and planted 3 seeds in the middle of each square. Will thin to one per square after they germinate. Packet planting directions said to leave 12" spacing between plants so I'm squeezing it just a little. Anyway, if it is successful I should end up with about 30 ears of sweet corn in a couple of months!
Edited to add:
Deb just came in from the garden and has trimmed the spinach again today. She has another gallon ziploc bag full, about 8 to 10 oz...Gonna have to start freezing some pretty soon.
I think I should post these notes in my garden diary rather than the forum.
Well, I like going to your thread and reading your news...so I can't imagine there's a problem with posting it here! I keep trying to update my own personal garden thread with stuff, rather than do new threads too...
Anyway...so corn in May, hmm...I'll be very interested to see how that works out. My best luck with corn has come from planting during the first 3 weeks of March & then again in the fall...so it'll be really neat to watch your corn's progress...maybe you'll really have it "knee high by the 4th of July"!!
Dan and Kim, keep posting here! We wouldn't be able to read your diary, lol. Besides, I'm learning a lot from you two. I'm so grubby today I doubt even my mother would love me if she were here. Then again, if she were here, she'd be grubbing in the dirt, too. She had much greener fingers than me. ;-(
Dan - I am in love with your raised planters. Hope you'll forgive me but I took the liberty of copying your photo so in the future we can replace some beds we have now which were built with old railroad ties. I don't like railroad ties at best and these are beginning to split and crumble from age since the house is 30 years old.
We have to strictly contain any plantings here because of weed problems. In the desert, every drop of water produces a weed which produces brothers and sisters, so it's essential to contain our watering and not spray all over the place. With your concept I could actually have a few beds of vegetables and use a drip system! It's a ways down the road but beds like yours are on my most wanted list!
OK... :o) ...this will probably start to read like diary entries.
Went out this morning and picked bush beans and pole beans. Total bean harvest is now 1 lb 11 oz.!
Deb and I have been working everyday after work and on the weekends to get a 2nd house we have ready for the market. But I took a little time this weekend to work on the water metering system and this morning was the first time it cycled on it's own. Worked like a charm! Now I can work on getting a line run out to water all of the tomatoes.
Hi Dann, I love the look of your raised beds! Do you mind sharing what type of paths you have there? From the photo it looks as if you have some type of gravel. It looks (to me) very much like what you would see on a ball field, a very compact type of gravel/dirt system.
I'm having a hard time deciding what to put into our veggie garden, and the wood chips are not cutting it any more. Thanks for any advice!
It's what is known here locally as "quarter minus". It's simply gravel that has been crushed to 1/4" or smaller particles. I have it spread about 2" thick and it has proven to be an excellent weed barrier and it compacts real well. Once it has been watered down it remains relatively dust free.
Dan and Kim: You two as the vegetable duo are doing great for the vegetable gardens in Phoenix. I just put whatever I grow into the flower garden. I mix the two. But no yields like you two are getting. Mostly just do fall and winter vegggies. You two are inspiring. Marie: I do need my book. My knowledge is limited to what I have done that works. I can get much more out of my garden with the help of you ALL. Thanks for all the motivation and inspiration.
I went out to the gardens this morning and did my Saturday morning thing, hand watered plants, inspected for bugs, pruned what needed pruned and harvested what was ready.
The spinach is being shaded out now by the eggplants and bush beans so Deb will probably only get one more harvest from that. All in all I rate the spinach as successful. Two 4' rows have yielded about 3 to 31/2 lbs.
The beets have been a resounding success too! I harvested 14 beets today to bring the season total to 20 and there are still about 20 left to harvest later this week. That will be about 40 beets from a plot measuring 4'x2'.
The pole beans are not as lush and vigorous as I am accustom to but they are hanging in there and producing small quantities of green beans. I'm going to increase the water for them from every other day to daily and see if that helps them. I also spread a little Mary McP brand Llama Yamma around them this morning.
The bush romano beans are doing very well and have copious amounts of blossoms. I think that the two 4' rows will produce a surplus of flat italian style green beans.
The 5 eggplants went through a huge growing spurt this week and all have several blossoms now.
The yellow straightneck squash produced 2 harvest-able squash this week and there are 6 or 7 fingerling size coming along nicely.
The zucchini has about a dozen fingerling size fruits but none of them seem to be in any hurry to gain any size. My experience in the past with zucchini has always been nothing one day and an oversize one the next.
Tomatoes are still showing signs of stress. The temps have moved into the 100+ this week and I may have to move them around to the shadier side of the house. Probably won't be to many tomatoes now until fall if I can get them to survive the summer heat. The plants in the larger 15 gallon pots are coping better than the others, however, I will probably not grow them in black pots again. Soil temps have hit 115* and I'm pretty sure that is way too hot.
I do remember Joe Carcione! He was the first (and the best) produce guy to have his 2 minutes of fame everyday on one of the Sacramento TV stations. He always had a tip of the day that I found interesting and informative, like how to choose the tenderest corn on the cob, pick the sweetest watermelons and the freshest mushrooms. I still use those tips today! I haven't thought about him in decades but he, along with my grandfather, was a source of inspiration in my early vegetable gardening years. He would talk about something and I'd want to grow it. I don't know what about me reminds you of him but, truly, I am flattered none-the-less. Thank you!
Now that we have digital camera technology, I am one of those people that like to take pictures of the garden about once a week to record plant growth progress. I keep them in a journal along with lots of notes detailing successes and failures, thoughts on how to do, or not do things, etc...
Here is a picture of the same vegetable bed at the top of this thread 3 weeks later.
Hey Dan - Great harvests...you are truly an inspiration. I will definately ply you for more info come fall when I plan to get my veggie garden in full swing - just warnin' ya!
The three toms you gave me are doing well. One exceptionally (the one in the middle, don't remember if that's the Porterhouse or the Steak Sandwich), [later: it's the Steak Sandwich] the Black Crim is doing almost as well and the third plant [the Porterhouse] is just ok, not much growth but it has the most yellow buds.
The area has 90% shade cloth about 10' up and each tom cage is covered in 60% cloth. The latter is to thwart those dang leaf hoppers. I heavily mulch with straw to keep soil temp under control. It's cheap. I'll have pics Tuesday - no digital camera.
I'm going to place an order for some more "Mary McP's Llama Yamma" soon. I look forward to seeing your garden when I come to pick it up! I may end up begging for a tomato or two. My plants are severely stressed right now. I may end up removing all of the fruit and blossoms and concentrate on getting them healthy enough to survive the summer heat. They'll should go like gangbusters in the fall when the temps come back down. I might try transplanting a couple of them to the raised beds after I make a little room. The black containers that are smaller than 15 gallons was not a good idea. Way to small and the sun has the soil temps soaring in them. The 15 gal ones seem to be doing fine so far though.
When I was talking to my Mom this morning we were discussing Joe and she thought he had died about 15-20 years ago. Bummer. She also reminded me that he was on TV everyday, not once a week. She thinks he had a radio program too.
Dan - (and anyone else who might be interested), here's some garden shots. This is a small spot tucked into the east side of the house so morning sun. I thought the house would block most of the afternoon sun but it does not at this time of year, so we added the shade structure and placed the cloth so allow full sun till about mid-day. Seems to be working.
This shot is looking front to back. Dan, you'll recognize the shed, repainted from red to white. Garden area is left-ish. Tomato plants are against the back wall of the shed, can't really see them in this pic.
and finally, my helper and good buddy - Butch - Da Man - after a tough weekend of motorcyle repair (replaced the carberator. I had one or two shots left so I grabbed this one. hummmm, looks a little fuzzy. You can see though how much growth we lost on those thevetia's. They were covering the fence before the BF.
Everything looks real good Mary!
Everything except Butch, he looks a little wilted. Maybe moving him under the shade structure and a margarita infusion would perk him up a little.:o)
The Steak Sandwich tomato is one of my more vigorous plants too. If it produces decent tomatoes it might be a winner for this area. Is the shade cloth on the tomato cages actually for shade or is it serving another purpose? Inquiring minds want to know.
I've got to find the time to erect a shade structure of some sort soon.
I'll take a pic or two of the chili plants you gave me at the swap. They haven't grown very much but they are healthy and happy.
Yeah, my peppers have not really 'taken off' either, unlike the tomatoes and a spaghetti squash that is *very* happy. I'm wondering if the peppers prefer a higher soil temp? - and then I wonder should I pull back some of the straw that is keeping their feet cool? Anyone know? Anyone still here?...(Hi Audrey)...
Sure, Butch could use a margarita but I think he settled for his friend Johnny Walker that evening. :~}}
I covered the cages to thwart leaf hoppers. That is what seems to have killed any tom plants I have tried to grow in AZ. It's my understanding that they bring some kind of 'leafy top' disease. I may have that a bit twisted but it's something along those lines.
Good luck on getting some shade. We bought this monster-ous contraption for a good price from a neighbor who had used it to cover a [seemingly] huge boat.
Mary - when I lived in Prescott my veggie garden was pretty large, I used straw around everything and never pulled it back...I can't imagine you would be hurting anything to leave it in place - it keeps their roots cooler and weeds down, not to mention it looks nice!
Here's a pic I took this afternoon of the 2 chili plants you gave me at the swap. Like I mentioned earlier they're happy and healthy, but they're midgets. Maybe they're the type that don't get very large.
I took this pic this afternoon of the yellow straight neck squash. I have already harvested 4 squash this past week and still have these to look forward to in a few days. There's a few tiny ones in there too. It looks like the one plant will produce all the yellow straight necks we can handle!
I've been working everyday for the last month and I swear that next weekend I'm taking 3 days off. But in the meantime I started prepping beets early yesterday morning and canned them last night. My 1st canning project of the year. Next weekend I may do a couple of jars of pickled green beans.
I have harvested another 5 yellow straight neck squash this weekend. Cantaloupes are starting to form and there is a watermelon about tennis ball size. There are several jalapenos and the frying peppers are about 4 ". About half of the sweet corn has sprouted so far and the pickles and butternut squash are forming fruits now too. On the 5 eggplants there are 3 fruits and loads of blossoms. What spinach that is left is getting real leggy while trying to find some sun between the eggplants and bush beans. I pulled a couple of 4" carrots and ate them in the garden...sweet.
I don't think of it as "art" but now that I have momentarily pondered that statement, there isn't much I like better than yummy art!
The blocks are 6" wide x 8" high x 16" long and I bought them at HD. I think they cost about $1.15 each and the cap blocks where around $.75 each. With the concrete, re-bar, brick mortar and blocks I think I have $250/300 invested in each bed. Add to that another couple of hundred $ for soil and amendments to fill them up!
Wouldn't it be neat if the almighty home developers would create a project that had a community garden space like they do swimming pools etc.?
Hmmmmm I think that's like a "commune"
Second thought, not sure it could be "designed" maybe it needs to just "happen".
But~!!! I admire your work Dann_L ... Just great! Its funny hearing the price of things. But - hey - you get to eat off of that plate! Its more than "hardscape".
Will you marry me? I could never get my husband to grow beets, let alone can them. They are a work of art. I love this thread. Is there anyway we could start a 2nd thread, (to contine this one on) This one is getting so long. I don't know how but I am sure some of your computer people might. I realy don't know what I am asking but it is getting very long and I am still interested.
Thanks Brenda. Mother nature does all the work and I just take the picture!
Linda...That's the 1st marriage proposal I've ever had! But, alas, I've been captured for 38 years come June 20th. I am flattered none the less! I'll come over and help you plant a few beets for your fall garden.
Recently at a neighbor's home I had a mashed potatoes and beets dish--- I don't know what else was in it, but it was really really good. Our friends said it was an Ethiopian dish. I don't even like beats but I had ...maybe three bowls! Another friend (a chef) said something about potatoes cutting the earthy taste of beets...sometimes cooking is too much chemistry for this theatre major.
On another note, my squash are turning yellow (the leaves) I am having the worst time with whiteflies. Anyone else having difficulties with bugs?
Here's my weekly photo. I've been harvesting yellow straight necks, zucchini, green beans and cucumbers about every other day this week. Carrots are only about 4" or 5" but they are so good I can't stop pulling a couple every day to munch on. There are 5 softball size Sugarbaby watermelons and 4 Tuscan cantaloupes almost as big. Both plants have numerous tiny melons starting to develop. All the sweet corn has emerged and it will be interesting to see if they survive the heat to produce edible ears. Eggplants have several fruits that are nearing the advertised size so I may pick a couple of them next week. The pepper plants Mary gave me at the swap took offense at my comments about being midgets last week and put on a vigorous growth spurt...just about doubled in size. Tomatoes are ...still alive. I've just about decided to build another raised bed dedicated for tomatoes only for next year.
Deb cut up some pantyhose and put all of the watermelons and butternut squash in pantyhose bags. This is her experiment to see if it will keep the bugs and critters from munching on them. So far, so good! They're stretchy enough so I don't think they will impede fruit development.
This thread has been fun for me and I'm glad if you found it interesting as well. However, I have decided to continue these progress reports in my garden journal. It is much easier for me to reference than searching through a long thread. I have enabled my journal to be accessible by anyone interested and you are welcome to drop in and see how things are going at any time. You can also add this to your watched list and will be notified when new entries are made. The difference is that there is not accommodations for comments...those would have to be made by d-mail or at this thread in the Southwest forum.
I don't know how to provide a link to my "Garden Diary" but if you click the "Journals" tab above and then enter "Dann_L" in the search box it should take you there. I hope you'll come visit from time to time.