Super Green Thumb
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Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:01 am
Location: New Orleans

Disappointing raised bed but good harvest

I noticed my raised bed was not responding like I thought it would to some of the things I put in there several weeks ago so out they came. I put in garlic, beets, purple mizuna and some romaine seeds. With the exception of the garlic, they all sprouted but failed to grow much over the last few weeks. I had planted leaf lettuce seeds in my conventional garden at the same time and they are going great. I've already had to transplant to thin them out a bit. So, I took all out but the garlic and put in some onion sets, transplanted a couple small pots of chives and decided to add a few more collard green plants. Lets see how they do.

As for the harvest, I picked about a gallon of soybeans for edamame, 3 nice heads of broccoli, a yellow squash, and a large bowl of salad greens for some interesting tossed salad with tonight's dinner. Our weather is acting real weird right now. I woke up to muggy, warm weather at 6 a.m. and when I headed out the door at 10 a.m. for the garden center, it must have been 15 degrees cooler and hardly any humidity.

I'll try to post some pics if I can figure this thing out. I'm not too puter savvy. I do have a 25 yr. old that is a programmer though. Now, if I can just get him over here-----------food------- yep that's the ticket.

Super Green Thumb
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First question that comes to mind is, are the two area the same? Same soil, same amendments etc..

You are not actually comparing apples to apples. Would the scenario be the same, if you plant same seeds in both locations?


Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3065
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:01 am
Location: New Orleans

No Eric, and I think therein lies the problem. I constructed the raised bed mid summer and made it 12' long x 4'wide x 1' deep. I scalped the grass off the area and laid down a good layer of cardboard over the soil after loosening it up with a shovel just a bit. To fill it, I went to a local business that sells composted material, mulch and garden soil. I bought a truckload of the garden soil and mixed in a good bit of composted material I had stored here to top it off. I waited till the weather cooled a bit to plant my leafy greens, carrot and beet seeds and also planted about 50 toes of garlic.

The garlic is up and doing well but the carrots never emerged and the rest came up as seedlings and basically stayed that size for weeks.

The soil I got is a mix of composted material, spillway sand (silt from the Miss. River) and a little clay based soil to bind it all together. I'll see how the things I put in today fare. I'll keep an eye on them to see if they grow at a rate I know they are capable of.

The raised bed is something I wanted for root crops and the soil mix I have in there seems loose enough to make a go of it. I'll see how the garlic and onions do to determine if it is truly good enough for root crops.

If nothing else, I'll get a test kit and take a few samples to see what nutrients are lacking or if anything is way over what is needed.

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Super Green Thumb
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Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.

Every thing I read about compost says, 100% compost is extremely low in minerals, nutrients. If you want your plants to grow well you need to add things like wood ash, Legume Inoculants, lime, sheetrock scraps, epsom salts, to the FINISHED compost before you use it in the garden.

I mix my compost 50/50 with garden soil for tomatoes and squash. I did holes fill the holes with 50/50 mix and plant the tomatoes and squash.

For beans and peas I use the hoe to make a trench for the seeds. Wet the seeds, sprinkle on some legume inoculant, stir and plant. I sprinkle 1" compost over the seeds. Seeds sprout and come up pretty quick usually 2 days.

To add nutrients to composted plants I make soil tea. I put a shovel of garden soil in a 5 gallon bucket and fill it with water. Stir well and pour the brown water on the plants. This works much better than just pure tap water.

Fill a trash can with sheet rock scraps, fill it with water, let is set a week the sheet rock will dissolve. Stir well pour the white milk looking water on the garden.

I do raised beds only in 1 row of my garden. My raised bed does much better when I water it with soil tea.
Last edited by Gary350 on Fri Oct 29, 2010 7:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Greener Thumb
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Location: Lake Martin, AL

Gumbo, keep us informed on how this raised bed performs. I plan to do something similar to part of my garden. Being as small as it is I have to plant tomatoes where they can get some sun, and unfortunately that has been pretty much the same place for years. Well, you know the results...they grow well and then kill over.

My plan is to turn that area into a raised bed, so I am interested in your method and if it works. This is what I thought would be the process
(1) clear all old veggie growth from the area.
(2) build a long box 3' wide and 12" - 15" deep
(3) cover the bed area with 4 or 6 mil black plastic
(4) fill the bed with leaves and top soil from some farm land
(5) grow tasty tomatoes

Did you put down the cardboard for weed/grass control or disease or both? Will the black plastic protect against the fungicide that has gotten my tomatoes the last couple of years?

Super Green Thumb
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Location: New Orleans

I'll give updates as things progress. I put down cardboard mostly for weed control. I shaved the area but it was heavy in St. Augustine grass. Another thing I have is called "nut grass" and that stuff is unbelievable in rate of growth and how quickly it can spread. If crops would grow as fast as some weeds, we could end world hunger.

The thick plastic you are considering putting down should block any weeds but I think it may hinder drainage, especially if you are building a solid walled box. Not sure how it would protect against any fungal diseases already in the soil.

Neighborhood Gardening
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Location: Cape Cod

Raised beds are the only way I go. They are a lot of work to set up if you do them right, but they are also easier on the back in the long run. Just make sure you dig them deep before you build the beds. I dug 18" down into the soil and removed all the rocks and roots. I then back filled the loose soil and mixed in alfalfa hay for nutrients. After refilling the beds I had a solid 2' of loose soil. This makes a huge difference in the growth, production, disease and pest tolerance. My tomato plants are routinely 7.5 to 8' tall since I started using this method. I used virtually no organic pesticides this year (partly due to the better weather), but more to the fact that the plants are just healthier and have deeper root penetration.

I have 24 raised beds for about 700sq feet of growing beds and they work like a charm. They also allow you to easily add mini hoop houses so you can extend your growing season through the winter.

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