I got an email recently that said…
I have not had much success the past few years in growing food. I tried Mel Bartholomew’s square foot gardening last year without luck, problems with bugs, too little or too much water not sure.
Here’s my plan:
- 16′ x 3′ raised bed about a 16″ deep in an area that gets sun from around 9 or 10 am through nightfall.
- I plan to use part of this space for composing until I get a full bed of nice topsoil. And I’d like to add some PVC irrigation to the bed that I could hook a hose up to.
- There is good soil on the ground in this spot now so I was thinking I could pile up as much as possible on one side while I work on getting the other side up to snuff.
- Should I just throw some dirt from under my leaf pile into there as a filler? Should I bury some wood in the bed? Am I too late to get the soil proper before the next growing season? Worms?
I live in zone 7b (Richmond Va) and we have wet springs and the end of our summers can be very dry. So how can you tell when the plants have the proper amount of water? Thanks, Walker
I realize after reading it that it has been a long time since we talked about this subject. Also that winter is a great time to plan out and often to build raised beds. I also realized that many people might (note might) be doing raised beds when going with “in ground” or “on ground” beds may be a better option.
Join Me Today to Discuss…
- What are the goal of a garden more over what should they be?
- Grow plants, today we are looking at food but plants are plants
- Optimize the growth of what you want vs. what wants to grow in that spot
- Minimize your work load
- Give organization to chaos, ie create a pattern you can manage
- My issues with “square foot gardening”
- 4×4 beds dry out fast
- In the end it is just a planting pattern
- Attempts to oversimplify
- I still love Mel! Don’t get me wrong
- What are the advantages of raised beds
- Total control of “soil mix”
- Start weed free and usually disease free
- Good drainage
- Clear demarcation point between “lawn” and garden
- Easy to install irrigation during construction
- What are the disadvantages of raised beds
- Cost of construction
- Cost of fill materials
- Dries out far more quickly in hot weather/climates
- Initially requires more labor
- Semi permanent structures
- Raised Bed Construction Material Options
- Treated Lumber
- Cinder blocks or or other man made hardscape materials
- Natural stone, rock, etc.
- My rules for raised beds
- 4 feet wide unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise
- If your ground really sucks (rock etc) go deep
- Be sure of your location before building them
- Be sure a raised bed really makes sense, sometimes they are the best option
- Employ weed blockers
- Get over your fear or treated lumber or don’t use wood
- Consider heavy mulch and weed blocking around and in between beds
- Building soil
- Use my fertility regiment
- Mulch, then mulch, then mulch again
- Cover crop or tarp in winter, or anytime not in use
- Compost, then compost more, always compost
- Bed orientation and location
- If you can’t see it, you won’t take care of it
- Ideal locations have eastern sun and western shade (subject to your climate)
- Wind can be your enemy, for many reasons, set up wind blocks
- Managing your garden
- Weed early and weed often
- Keep records of what grows, when things happen, etc.
- Irrigate on a schedule, automation is best
- Fertilize on a schedule, this is on you
- Harvest frequently, you will get more production
- No matter the technique the soil is the key, we grow soil, soil grows plants
- Final Thoughts
Resources for today’s show…
- Follow Life With Jack on Instagram
- TSP Facebook Group
- Join the Members Brigade
- Join Our Forum
- Walking To Freedom
- Episode-2384- Building Soil Fertility, Biology and Structure in the Garden
- My Fertility Program – All the Products I Use
- Historical Piece on “The Spider Dance”
- Lola Montez – Volbeat
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