wingwalker
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Location: Aiken, South Carolina

Gardening in a BIG BOX

Hello everyone. I am new to this,(forums & gardening). I have finally retired and looking forward to gardening. First problem, I waited to long now have a bad back. Soooo I have several (24) heavy duty plastic boxes that are 4 foot square and 3 foot deep.
I have them setting on cement boxes to raise them up so I don't have to bend over so much. I have cut holes in the bottom for drainage.
I am using dirt from behind the house(live in South Carolina) very sandy.
What else should I do to the soil for general planting of a garden?
How deep should I make the soil in the box?
That will do for now. I have a lot of other questions but will look over the forum first for any answers.
Thanks,

The Helpful Gardener
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Hey Wing; long time...

The box is that big; why not fill it?

As for with what, compost is lovely stuff; I've not fertilized my veggies once and they are prolific and sweet this year. And during the dries, when the neighbors stuff started to look ratty mine still looked great. So compost for sure...

Keep it organic and keep it easy...

Scott

opabinia51
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I concur, compost in the boxes will be yoru best bet. Being that your back is out of shape, making your own compost might be a problem and you can buy it at local nurseries.

Also, once you have plants a good fertilizer would be liquid seaweed or liquid fish fertilizer. Also, kelp meal might be a good thing to add to the soil just to give a it a boost of micro and macronutrients.

grandpasrose
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I just wanted to congratulate you on being so ingenious! I have a had a bad back for years, so I garden with raised beds, but your idea with the plastic boxes up on blocks is absolutely incredible. I always say that a gardener will always find a way, and you have just proven it one more time!!! 8)
Have a wonderful time exploring your new hobby of gardening! :wink:
VAL
VAL (Grandpa's Rose)

wingwalker
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Thank you

:D Thank you all for the remarks. I will check into getting the compost when we get back home. Right now we are vacationing in our home on Fripp Island,S.C. We rent it out most of the year and we have to take advantage of the off seasons (my favorite time anyway).
Looks like I might have to start picking up the broken sand dollars and other stuff I find on the beach to use in my boxes. 8)
I was thinking of using some horse manure also but see that it might be to hot. I have a lot of that around, fresh and old. What should I do before I use any of it? Should I be concerned about seeds? Also was thinking of centipede grass and Bermuda Hay but that might be a seed thing also??? Have lots of trees that drop leaves and plan to use them after they go through the mower.
Again thanks for your help I think this forum is great.

opabinia51
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Hay and Horse manure do contain seeds but, if you hot compost the horse manure and hay before using them, the seeds will be killed. That said, I use horse manure in my gardens all the time and I don't find it to be much of a problem.

Composted horse manure will not be to hot for your garden. If memory serves I think that the Nitrogen pecentage is something like 30 percent. Chicken is 60 percent so, that puts things into perspective for you.

Leaves are great. And passing them through the mower is a great idea.

DAnderson
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Location: North Texas

Wingwalker, sorry to hear about your back problems, but congratulations on your retirement!

I've finally got a raised bed this year (in anticipation of possible back and/or knee problems). I've started with one and have a second one planned. The first one is 4 ft wide & 76 ft long and made with barn tin & iron supports. A tornado tore up our largest barn last year, so I salvaged the materials that weren't twisted or torn up & am using this for my raised beds. So far, it's free except for the screws.

These bins will have a permanent place in my regular garden & will be used for potatoes & onions in the spring and beets, carrots, & turnips in the fall. I'm trying to fill the first one now and am using cow manure (we have tons of that), leaves, newspaper, grass clippings, & dirt. It's slow, but it's filling up. Once I get this one filled, my husband will start building the second one, so I'm really focused on filling this one up before he gets "out of the mood" to build the second bin.

My husband parked one of the trailers at the barn, so I've made it my job to go to the barn every morning & load manure on that trailer. Once it's filled, we'll take it to the garden, then I can unload. I also have a four wheeler with a small trailer that will haul 6 large buckets, so I fill those every morning too & bring them back daily. It's a job, but I think it will be worth it.

Hope you have success with your raised beds. Wish me luck, by the time I finish filling mine up, I may have some major back problems!

grandpasrose
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Hi D! Sounds like you're doing quite a job! Welcome to the world of raised beds. I have gardened this way for years, and there is no better way! 8)
You are fortunate you have access to so much manure, but just a warning, don't plant anything in it until it has aged. If it is too fresh, it will burn anything you plant.
Also, using newspaper is great, I use it myself, but be sure to tear or shred it up, and don't use any with coloured inks on it. They have dyes and extra chemicals in them that the black doesn't that you don't want to add to your soil.
You could be throwing in your kitchen scraps as well - vegetable peelings, fruit peelings, egg shells.
It's great you're adding leaves and grass clippings as well!
Keep it up and you are going to have very wonderful soil! :wink:
VAL
VAL (Grandpa's Rose)

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Raised beds are looking like a neccessity for me too! Bending over pulling carpet nails out of a wood floor is what destroyed my back recently (that and genetics). So now bending over and pulling weeds sounds like less fun than it ever has.

I have heard there are gardeners out there that like pulling weeds.

I am not one of them. :lol:

Anyway, I'm trying to locate the best part of my backyard that I could set up with a raised bed or two. Since we may be moving again in a year - to a place with lots of acreage! - I want them to not be so heavy that we cannot load them up in the back of the truck and take them with us.

Where did you find the plastic boxes, Wing?

wingwalker
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BOXES

:D Hello everyone. Just got back from Fripp Island,S.C. may have to move down there permanently some day we like it so much.
The boxes came from a local plant that had powder type material :?: in plastic bags shipped to them for the use. They were cleaning house and I got them for nothing :wink:
I tried a couple of them this year with tomatoes and thought there would be enough drainage because of the seams in the side. We had so much rain that they held to much water and the tomatoes split.
I am setting up the rest of them but drilling holes in the bottom first.
I don't have any cow manuer but plenty of horse manuer. Using that, leaves, grass, and Bad tomatoes. Think I'll start using the news papers too.
Wish there was some way to add pictures to this????
Filling all these boxes is a pretty good job, but I think it will be worth it in the long run.

DAnderson
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[quote="grandpasrose"]Hi D! Sounds like you're doing quite a job! Welcome to the world of raised beds. I have gardened this way for years, and there is no better way! 8)
Thanks Val, glad to hear we have some raised bed experience on this forum. I will probably try to tap into that experience!
You are fortunate you have access to so much manure, but just a warning, don't plant anything in it until it has aged. If it is too fresh, it will burn anything you plant.
We do have alot of cow manure (& a neighbor has lots of horse manure I can get). I am using fresh at the very bottom of the bin, thinking there may be critters in the fresh manure that will help it decompose. Closer to the top of the bin, I'm using well aged manure (powder & wonderful in a breeze!).
Also, using newspaper is great, I use it myself, but be sure to tear or shred it up, and don't use any with coloured inks on it. They have dyes and extra chemicals in them that the black doesn't that you don't want to add to your soil.
I'm shredding all my newspaper & don't use any slick or colored paper.
You could be throwing in your kitchen scraps as well - vegetable peelings, fruit peelings, egg shells.
I do use all my kitchen scraps (and Mom & Dad's too), but in a 2 person household, there's not that much. Will be going to Dallas tomorrow, so I have made a list of the Starbuck's along my route & will try to get some coffee grounds. Hopefully, I can bring back a pickup load!
It's great you're adding leaves and grass clippings as well!
We have lots of trees in the pastures and around the house & alot of them are already losing their leaves, so I'm adding lots of leaves to my mix also.
This is alot of work, but I think it will be worth it...

grandpasrose
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Yes, alot of work, but D, your plants will love you for it, and so will you! Best of luck and let us know how it goes! :wink:
VAL
VAL (Grandpa's Rose)

birdhouse-lady
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I have been gardening in raised beds for two years because my yard is rocks held together with black gumbo clay. There was no way to dig in it at all. We started with two 4x8 beds made of landscape timbers 4 high...now we have six and four more in the making. We're just covering the whole yard with them and filling in between with crushed granite walkways. Now I'm getting to the age where I have back problems, so we framed each bed with 2x12s and made a little bench around each bed. Now I can sit and work, or plant, or just enjoy my "gardens".

grandpasrose
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That's a nice idea birdhouse lady! It would probably be very inviting to just sit for awhile, and you could probably do more that way. 8)

What we have been doing is as my back gets worse, we keep adding another tier of landscape boards around and add more good stuff to the soil to fill it up. We're now up to five tiers! :lol: I also have one of those little seats on wheels that I use as well. :wink:

Val
VAL (Grandpa's Rose)

opabinia51
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I hope to make it to your place this summer Val. Sounds amazing.

Great ideas everyone.

Seeing that this is the container gardening forum here is yet another idea for the movement impaired (such as myself)

Canadian Tire (and in the U.S. I'm sure you'd be able to find these at Home Depot and other such places) sells these nifty little greenhouses that consist of a metal shelf unit which to drape in a plastic "overcoat". No bending over, no fuss, no muss.

Basil loves to be inside the little greenhouse and if the temperatures are to warm in your area, just take the plastic off.

The Helpful Gardener
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There was an exhibit at the Rhode Island Flower Show last year about handicapped accessible gardening and containers and raised beds were the norm; LOTS of color too!

I remember a garden where the beds actually flared out near the top so a wheel chair could get under and the bed was accessible so you could reach the middle from a chair on either side. Nice 8)

Scott

wingwalker
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A little confuse on asparagus

I planted some aspaagus plants last year. I let them come up and do what ever they wanted to then let the stems die off. Then I cut them back to the ground.
Question is what do I do with them this year. I have some that are already shooting up to a couple feet.
How, when, where, etc do I harvest them?

2nd topic: Sweet potatoes. Never messed with them either but want to grow some. Of course know nothing about them either. :cry:

opabinia51
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Let them do the same thing that you did last year. Did you plant seeds or roots? If you planted seeds, you'll have to do what you did last year for another three years before harvesting. If you planted the roots, you'll have to wait until next year to start your harvest.

At the end of the growing season when the asparagus are "ferny" trim them down to the stub and perhaps work some compost around them.

wingwalker
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opabinia51 wrote:Let them do the same thing that you did last year. Did you plant seeds or roots? If you planted seeds, you'll have to do what you did last year for another three years before harvesting. If you planted the roots, you'll have to wait until next year to start your harvest.

At the end of the growing season when the asparagus are "ferny" trim them down to the stub and perhaps work some compost around them.
I thought I had posted this reply, but I don't see it..........so
I planted roots, was hoping for a second year harvest......guess I can wait. :cry:
Also planted some strawberries. They are showing a lot of bloom so far. Anything I should be watching out for here?

Want to grow some sweet potatoes, when I find a supplier. Anything special about growing them?

The big boxes are working out good so far. Only problem is filling them.

opabinia51
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Hi Wing,

I actually haven't tried growing sweet potatoes before (at least, I have with little success) so, I probably wouldn't be the best to give advice on that topic. :wink: Have fun with your asparagus and strawberries. I just bought ten plants yesterday and I have another dozen alpine strawberries growing away that I planted from seed.

Lots of fun!

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