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hendi_alex

Thank you for that reply
A friend has an old garage floor (next to his garden spot) that has 2-6 inches of dirt on top of it.
He can't get any production out of it. He has asked me what to do short of sledge and jack hammer.
I've mentioned more compost.

I will let him know, raised bed, I will likely quote you in an email.
And go for shallow root crops till he gets 10" inches on top built up.

How deep does he need for corn?

Thanks

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hendi_alex
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I've never planted corn in my raised beds as it is such a heavy feeder. I do believe that corn would do well in the new ten inch deep beds and have been trying to decide whether or not to try a block one of the frames. Also, this is only my first full season of having the beds deep enough to expand the planting selection in those replacement beds. I'm considering growing carrots which I have not grown in several years. Mine have always tasted kind of sharp, almost chemical in nature, those they steam just fine. But they have never compared well to those extra sweet California carrots that are oh so sweet and mild. Must have something to do with their long, mild growing season.
Last edited by hendi_alex on Sun Jan 25, 2009 8:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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hendi_alex
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Just got through with the first round of filling my newest raised bed, on a concrete pad. The 10 inch by 4 foot by 8 foot bed comes in at just over 25 cubic feet. I added 20-22 cubic feet of wet, relatively compacted mostly oak leaves. Added them in three layers, shoveling recycled potting soil/compost mix between and on top. As the bed settles, will add leaves and potting soil/compost until a few weeks before planting time. Then will allow the bed to settle and will top the box off with fresh potting soil at planting time. For this bed I'm using raw, fresh season oak leaves. Usually I would be using leaf mold/partially composted material to fill the main volume of such a bed. I added a good dose of high nitrogen fertilizer to aid the break down of leaves, also threw in a good batch of worms from the kettle worm bed. That kettle worm bed has turned out to be a gem of an idea. The original hand full of worms has turned in to several thousand already, this spring when the weather warms, I believe the worm production will be phenomenal.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

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This is so new a concept to me, I am amazed and would love to see pictures.

What is "the kettle bed"?

I've not gone the worm route yet, but the more I read the more interesting it looks.
Dad had one, he killed all of them shortly after they got productive and that was the end of that.
How much does it help? And is it possible to make one outdoors this far north?

And do you have any PH issue with using oak leaves.
Many folks warn me about using them, but my experience indicates it is not a problem.
Of course my leaf compost is always less than 50% oak.
I put twigs, sticks, shrubs, pine and everything in mine and haven't had a problem.
But, I don't use a PH tester either.

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hendi_alex
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The worms help break down any of the leaves and organic matter that is put in the compost pile or in the various garden beds. When I first moved here, there were virtually zero earth worms in the dry sandy soil. Now, when moving most any container, earthworms will be in and under it. It is my understanding that the presence of earthworms is a great indication of the health of your soil. Also, worm castings are supposed to be a tremendous source of nutrients for plants. Further, the digging and tunneling of the worms is a great aerator for the soil.

WRT oak leaves being acid, I was curious about that in the past and did a good bit of googling and found several bits of research, all of which indicated that the acid nature of oak leaves is a myth, that composted oak leaves tend to be very near neutral. Here is a typical quote related to oak leaf acidity: "[myth]You can't use oak leaves on your garden because they're too acid. [fact]False. As oak leaves rot they lose their slight acidity, and the oak leaf mold ends up alkaline."

I am sure that you could establish a worm bed, but if using something like my kettle grill, it may have to be in a sheltered location during really cold freezes. I did leave mine outside as temperatures visited the single digits for a couple of days. The worms seem no worse for wear from exposure to those temperatures. If you don't have a sheltered location, like a closed garage, it probably would be better for you to make a more coventional worm bed that is in contact with the ground, that would allow the worms to dig deeper when the soil temperature drops really low. One main reason for my using the kettle grill is to discourage fireants from decimating the worm population. If not for that, I would have just continued growing my worms in the open compost pile. The worms did great in my compost pile until the invading fire ants moved in, eating the worms and anything that moved, in fact most everything else as well. Here is a repost regarding the re-use of my old kettle grill.

This original post was first listed under the thread "trash to treasure" on the Non-Gardening Related Hoo-ha and Foo board.

As you know, have been following this trash to treasure thread. Well, there was another thread over on the compost board, mentioned a worm bed. So happens I have a pretty good compost pile and at least 20 years ago added a pound or two or earth worms. Up until a couple of years ago when the fire ants invaded the compost piles I would have huge masses of worms throughout the pile. It never occurred to me to consider a worm bed. So with the post related to a worm bed, and then this thread on re-use, my mind started turning, [what can I use for a worm bed.] Just happened to think about a large kettle grill that got replaced by a fancy gas unit and has been stored in the barn for at least ten years. It has vent holes for air, a lid to keep out undesireable critters and is heavy enamel and aluminum. So the experiment begins. Half filled the kettle grill with partially decomposed compost, sifted through and picked out some earthworms to make sure a few were in this starter mix. In the future rather than adding my kitchen scraps directly to the compost pile, instead will put them in this makeshift worm bed. Will let you know how it works.

The grill was converted to a worm bed in July of 2008. I added about 40 additional worms gathered from my daughters home in N.C. Since that time I've pulled out perhaps a quarter pound of worms and introduced them to several raised beds and to two compost piles. Just sifting though the mix in the kettle gives me the impressiion that there are now thousands of earth worms in that compost/kitchen waste mix. The worms are really thriving and it is here in mid winter. In the spring I would expect an explosion of the earthworms to add to our landscape.

So far the kettle drum is a perfect worm bed. It is small enough for easy management. It is easily transportable. It is resistant to corrosion. It has the capacity to grow many thousands of earthworms. It has air holes for circulation, a lid to keep out undesireable critters. I even keep a bucket under the grill to catch any liquids that pass through, will dump that into my various raised beds. The only management is adding kitchen scraps once or twice per month, and also turning with a hand gardening fork about once per week.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex



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