I am new to this foruym after I have not planted for nearly 3 years due to a serious handicap (I could not bend and could not squad without tearing my knee cartledge - that happened anyway)
I have had my probable last knee operation 7 weeks ago as well as an osteotomy.
I decided to just plant a few plant in a pot to just save my seeds.
Useles!! I started fully. Never mind the pain and the handycap. I will worry about that another day. Easier said than done as I get very frustrated when the pain is too much or when I get tired. However my healing is making rapid progress and I have achieved a lot in my garden so far.
I have a shade house, made from treated timber with a 40% shade cloth, not so much to protect against the sun, but to keep birds, insects and cats out. Birds and cat I can keep out, but fruit fly and small critters is difficult. I am successful with moths and butterflies, so my worm pests are less.
In the past three years I have not maintained the tunnel so my neighbour's leaves were too heavy a load and some of the top thin beams collapsed. The cloth now lasted for 9 years already and still strong going. I repaired the beams with thicker droppers and it is now back to new condition. The neighbour aqlso decided to get rid of the tree. It is a silver oak that overhangs my shadehouse.
Inside the shadehouse I have three beds, 1 of 5 x 18 feet and 2 of 5 x 25 feet. They have 1 foot high prefab concrete panels sunken in the soil with permanent concrete pathes inbetween. I also have two 4 x4 x4 foot compost bins of bricks. The soil is rather sandy and I add lots of compost annually, about 2 inches thick. It is dig in about 6 inches deep. I get wonderfull results.
I stopped hydroponics in containers and changed to a soil mix of 1 part soil, 1 part manure and 1 part compost. It is working very well and the high temp days do not dry out the soil. I did not yet added compost in my beds yet as I was not yet ready for the work due to the injuries.
I rethink my whole approach and I decided to go to raised beds. I added an 8 inch rased bed structure to the smaller bed and that I am going to fill with no soil but compost only. I am going to dig it twelve inch deep, achieving a 1 part soil and 2 parts of compost, of wich 1 part is in the concrete part (below soil level) and 2 parts will be above soil level in the wooden structure boundaries.
In our warm climate I need the rich compost planting medium. I completed the main structure tonight and will add the stakes tomorrow evening. I plan to purchase 1 cubic meter of compost on Saturday. I will not be able to completely fill the bed but after digging it will raise to about two inches from the top - maybe less. This I will fill with compost mulch that I make myself or buy loose.
I am of the opinion that my plants will grow now even better than before. The other two beds I will complete one at a time, to evn better give myself a chance to heal. Also to be lighter on my budget as it is rather expensive. I will plant to the principles of square foot gardening (closer population of plants).
The shade cloth protected my plants against the sun, although I still had too much heat at times. With the better soil/compost mix I will get better reslults.
I am still planning on building a small (12 x 20 foot) polytunnel later in the year. However I will use my new compost formulae soil mix rather than dry type (choir) hydroponics.
When everything is finished, I will add some photographs.