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#157982 - 11/29/11 12:12 AM Prep Work for 2012 Garden, many questions!
Wolfman Offline
member

Registered: 08/28/11
Posts: 20
I all!

So I have been playing with a garden on the south side of our lot/house for a few years but with out much success. I live in western Washington, about 20 miles north of Seattle. I have good southern exposure, but not much for early or late sun. The ground sucks, it's sand and gravel fill.

My plan this year to to build several (4 to 6) raised beds out of 2x10's and 2x12's, they are not PT and will probably only last a few years but I am fine with that. They didn't cost me anything. smile I am thinking about 4' x 5' or 4' x 6' for the box sizes.

So on to the questions;

1) Any recommendations for dirt? Mixes and the like.

2) Is 12" deep enough for plants? I don't want them to big!

3) I was planning on making them hot boxes (Cold Boxes?) with glass lids, any ideas on this, again the glass was free I would just have to make a frame out of 2x2's.

4) Any sites you all know that would help me with bug control and crop schedules? I have some books but would like some more help.

I also have 4 chickens so I have lots of compost saved up from last year. Now just what to do with it! smile

Thanks for any and all help
Wolfman



Edited by Wolfman (11/29/11 12:13 AM)

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#157985 - 11/29/11 05:50 AM Re: Prep Work for 2012 Garden, many questions! [Re: Wolfman]
PerryMK Offline
member

Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 1155
Loc: Florida panhandle
Originally Posted By Wolfman
3) I was planning on making them hot boxes (Cold Boxes?) with glass lids, any ideas on this, again the glass was free I would just have to make a frame out of 2x2's.

I want a convertible greenhouse

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#157988 - 11/29/11 09:16 AM Re: Prep Work for 2012 Garden, many questions! [Re: Wolfman]
Ewker Offline
member

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 222
Loc: Tennessee
everything you want to know about raised beds(square foot gardening) can be found here


http://www.melbartholomew.com/category/beginners-guide/

Mel is the guy who created square foot gardening

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#158003 - 11/29/11 11:59 AM Re: Prep Work for 2012 Garden, many questions! [Re: Wolfman]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3889
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
If you can, get local dirt, not Wal-Mart dirt. If the local dirt you get is sandy bottom land soil it likely won't have much for nutrients, so now is a good time to get it and mix that chicken compost it with.

If your compost has a lot of other organic material in it, like yard waste and kitchen scraps, that's even better. Mix a bunch of it in with your soil. If not, find some. Most wood chips work great, I use them and leaves. Save the eggshells from your hens and smash them up and add them to your soil too.

You can use and enrich the soil you have doing this. It takes a few years, but in the end you'll have way better soil than you can buy and you won't need to add any store bought fertilizers either.

12 inche high beds will be plenty deep enough. For my beds, I dug and turned the soil where I was putting the beds, then I dug a trench along side it and put that soil on top of the bed. Then I amended the beds as described above. Then I filled the trench up to the top with leaves and wood chips.

Every Fall, I dig up the composted mulch in the trench and cover the top of the bed with it, I also add more composted manure at the same time. Then I refill the trench with new leaves and wood chips.

I've done this every year now for about 4-5 years and the soil in those beds is amazing now.

The trenches filled with wood chips and leaves do more than just make compost. They keep the weeds down all growing season long with no need to use herbicides, and they hold moisture in. It's amazing how much moisture they retain. This helps keep your beds from drying out deep down, and it makes a perfect spot for worms to take up residence. The worms work on the wood chip and leaf mulch and compost it for you, and the next thing you know your beds will be filled with worms too.

The other thing you can do now is add some charcoal to your beds. Store bought briquets will work, but they take a long time (2-3 years) to break down and start working. If you crush them they will work faster, but this is a slow starting, long term amendment. Once you do it, you won't have to do it again for probably 10 years or more.

Check with your local Farm Bureau and Conservation Dept. They should have lists of crops that do well in your area and planting schedules for each of them. They probably have them online.

As for using the glass to cover your beds, that will work great. You'll get a jump start on summer crops and be able to grow things like lettuce and radishes much earlier and later that without it. In fact, you could probably start growing them right now and have something growing all year long using them.

www.MotherEarthNews.com is a great resource for what you're looking for. Definitely check out their site, and get the magazine too. It's well worth it.

Also do a google search for "Ruth Stout". Almost everything I've mentioned came from her.

_________________________
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"You want to go where?"



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#158011 - 11/29/11 12:38 PM Re: Prep Work for 2012 Garden, many questions! [Re: billstephenson]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6400
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Generally here in the Pacific NW west side, we have pretty heavy soils. You may want to mix in some sand for better drainage. Also, be sure the boxes have some kind of drainage--which you probably figured out already!

You might want to check with your local County USDA Agricultural Extension people, who should have some literature on the subject that will be geared to your local conditions.
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#158012 - 11/29/11 01:31 PM Re: Prep Work for 2012 Garden, many questions! [Re: Wolfman]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 848
Loc: Torrance, CA
Some root plants like soil deeper than 12" (carrots, rutabagas), but most anything will be fine.

Be careful with chicken manure it is extremely nutrient rich and can damage plants if in direct contact. I would recommend putting a layer of chicken manure on the bottom of your beds and filling over the top of it with soil. If you have some well aged manure it might be ok to mix it in with your soil.


Edited by BZH (11/29/11 01:35 PM)

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#158063 - 11/30/11 12:57 PM Re: Prep Work for 2012 Garden, many questions! [Re: BZH]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3889
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Originally Posted By BZH
Be careful with chicken manure it is extremely nutrient rich and can damage plants if in direct contact. I would recommend putting a layer of chicken manure on the bottom of your beds and filling over the top of it with soil. If you have some well aged manure it might be ok to mix it in with your soil.


Well composted chicken manure is okay as a top dressing. And putting a layer on the bottom of the beds is a great suggestion.

I don't have boards on the sides of my beds, so drainage isn't much of a problem, and I did as OM suggested and added some store bought sand to my beds when I made them. Our clay and rock soil doesn't drain very well and the trenches do fill up with water after a hard rain. But, over the years, the worms have worked that compost further down into the trenches they have started soaking up that water faster. The garden, and the trenches, sit above a small pond and, as I had hoped, the pond now retains water better too, and the level fluctuate less, or at least slower.

What I am calling trenches in my garden were based on water management techniques using "Swales" developed by a guy in Australia named Geoff Lawton. Mine, of course, are a very small attempt to take advantage of his work on this. But even as small as they are, the effect they have is pretty profound.

It's very interesting how land is transformed using swales to manage water. It's kind of like contour farming on a grander scale, but it's meant to optimize water retention, as opposed to managing runoff. Here, in the Ozarks, I think it could greatly increase forage yields in pasture lands, and potentially transform some of them into crop land.

There are probably a lot places in the West that could really benefit from these techniques. I doubt the West end of WA is one of them though wink

But just about anywhere, in your home veggie garden it can help decrease the amount of additional water needed to maintain your veggies, and that means you spend less time watering...
_________________________
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"You want to go where?"



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#158073 - 11/30/11 05:51 PM Re: Prep Work for 2012 Garden, many questions! [Re: billstephenson]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6400
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Quote:
it can help decrease the amount of additional water needed to maintain your veggies, and that means you spend less time watering...


To say nothing of spending less money if you're on a municipal water system!
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#158131 - 12/01/11 02:53 PM Re: Prep Work for 2012 Garden, many questions! [Re: OregonMouse]
Wolfman Offline
member

Registered: 08/28/11
Posts: 20
Tanks for all the Info, I think I will stick with the 2x12's for the base.
As for the dirt, I don't have any real access to free dirt that I could use for gardening with out just digging it out of a field or something, not to sure about that for several reasons.

What I was planning on was buying several yards, probably around 10 or 15 and using that for the garden mix. I don't remember the exact mixes but they had names like black gold and such. Mostly organics and steer manure if I remember right. I will try to call around and see whats available. And what the mixes are and post it here.

I am not sure about the County Extensions offices, but will try to find something on line.

I have the Square Foot gardening book, some of it I like some not so much. But I was planning on basing my gardens on it.

What I was think of for the glass covers was using the 2x10's cut from full (9 1/2") to nothing over about 4' and then making several "Lids" out of glass and 2x2's so they could be vented and the like in individual sections. I also like the idea that they can be removed as the plants get bigger and then if needed put a plastic "tent" over them using 1/2" pvc or electrical conduit, making a barrel arch for the plants to grow in. At some point most of this would have to come off for the plants like tomato's and peppers as they would get to big. Hopefully! laugh

Thanks again for all the help.

Wolfman


Edited by Wolfman (12/01/11 02:54 PM)

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#162528 - 02/20/12 05:17 PM Re: Prep Work for 2012 Garden, many questions! [Re: Wolfman]
JAK Offline
member

Registered: 03/19/04
Posts: 2569
I also used pressure treated lumber and was glad I did. I got quite a few years out of them, even the 1x6s, and when they did self destruct I could just throw them on the compost pile or bury them. Also, by the time they are done I usually want to try something new anyway. I made a terraced herb bed, which the mints have taken over despite my efforts at corraling them.

The price of veggies and this forum have inspired me to get back into veggies this year. I use raised beds for most veggies, but I am going to try three sisters for the biggers stuff. We have a wet spring so raised beds help alot, especially when they are new and they don't have to thaw and drain.

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