StephenAsay
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Asay's raised earth bed garden WIP.

Well, it may be a little early but I am really excited to start gardening for this year. A little background: I am a young college student with my parents, we are living near Clemson SC. Have been here for over a year. We live on a little over an acre, it is mostly covered in tall trees so sunlight may be an issue, we plan on cutting down some of the sweetgum trees to clear up the sky a little and get rid of those ankle breaking squirel flails.

My dad was dead set on building boxes, but at a price of over $400 to set up just the boxes and soil I convinced him to let me try doing soil beds as described in the Mittleider proccess. I am not a very experinced gardener, we have done raised beds before with mixed success, mostly because we forget to take care of the garden. I did have the opportunity one time where a nice man let me plant 10 short rows of corn in his field in order to sell it all and raise money, it went pretty good and I made about $120 in sales, not bad for a teenage first side hustle. I am hoping to grow enough produce to eat from the garden every day and maybe sell at the local farmer's market, I am big into salads and greens but don't eat enough myself right now. I am also doing handyman work and blascksmithing as a source of income, not making a ton of money but enough for my own grocery bill and a a little into projects like this.

So the plot: roughly 40'x40' side yard, lined up with the compass. It is nice and flat except for the northwest corner which drops something like a foot over 10 feet. Image

The (Current) plan: ADLF here is first week of April, which means I have roughly two months to planting the first crops. I am going to till the ground at least 2 inches and try to clear out / break up all sticks, roots, and sod. Then I am going to mix in some partially composted mulch in order to add some organic matter and hopefully add enough volume to raise the entire bed up and inch or two and make everything level. I am thinking that shallow tilling a couple of times for the next two months will help germinate and kill the weeds.
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I am planning on making 6 beds, about 36-42" apart, They will be raised a couple inches up and have 12" wide troughs for planting, whatever spacing the plants need but the idea is to have two rows of plants per bed.

This is a fairly big project and I am not sure how well everything will go yet, I am still deciding on a north/south or east/west orientation, any ideas =?

pepperhead212
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Re: Asay's raised earth bed garden WIP.

Welcome to the forum!

That is a big project, for sure! I set up a raised bed last season, and have it E - W, but that was just because of the garden setup.
Dave

SQWIB
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Re: Asay's raised earth bed garden WIP.

Sound plan, keep us posted.
North - South

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applestar
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Re: Asay's raised earth bed garden WIP.

Wow I don’t know what Mittleider process/method is. Quick search didn’t get me any specifics except that it’s supposed to be a well researched method that is being spread around the world as being super effective, and course/class materials are available and specific recommended micronutrient packets are available. One website description said prior to adding these micros, they prepped with added Epsom salts and borax — in pounds — but the area they were talking about might have been bigger than I’m used to thinking or maybe they were talking about mixing up a huge batch in advance.

I have recently started added borax to my supplemental nutrient regimen, but only in small amounts (for strawberries and brassicas) —same for Epsom salts though ai do use that a bit more widely for solanaceas ... because my preferred focus is organic gardening and bio-diverse living soil foodweb (minimum/no tilling) AND because I never bother to have soil tests done and can’t tell if I might be overdoing it. I’m leery of any kind of “salts”, besides which my first introduction to use of borax was as ant and silverfish killer and weed killer, with added caution that “borax is a cumulative toxin and need to be used with care around small children and pets.”

That being said, welcome to the forum — I like learning about all different kinds of methods folks use to grow their gardens and you"ll see me inspired to trying them out.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

StephenAsay
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Re: Asay's raised earth bed garden WIP.

Thanks! Yeah the Mittleider method is interesting, it is supposed to be a sort of system for gardening that is easy to scale and works for most plants. I think what you are talking about can be found on page 53 of this PDF:
https://growfood.com/wp-content/uploads ... wnload.pdf

It says for pre planting 20 lbs of lime or gypsum, 1 pound epsom salt, and 4 ounces of borax mixed together, then applied at 1oz per square foot. So you are really only applying a fraction of an oz of the stuff once every other month. And for the weekly feed it is 25 lbs of 16-16-16, 4lbs epsom salt, and a packet of the micronutrient mix applied 1/2 oz per foot.

As far as the method goes, some people can get really into specifics. Jim Kennard came and did a demo of mixing the fertilizer and planting when we lived up in in Idaho. A lot of the people do specifically a mix of sand and sawdust in garden boxes for the soil. It seemed to work well, we grew some kale that tasted great but once we stopped fertilizing it became inedible. I am hoping that using the fertilizer takes some of the guesswork out of gardening, and that having the soil beds helps the plants be a little more self sufficient as far as watering. I am hoping to be able to water only 1-2x per week depending on rainfall, like I did with the corn. I am thinking one hour per day will be enough to keep everything going.

StephenAsay
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Re: Asay's raised earth bed garden WIP.

Just a quick update: Our first batch of seedlings have started to germinate in just five days!
We have Green Zebras, Cherokee Purple, Arkansas Traveler, and San Marzano. 18 cells of each. I want to plant a whole row of just tomatoes, which is at least 60 plants. Anyone have ideas for good tomatos to plant?
Image

So far I know I want:
Tomatoes 5-6 varieties.
Snap peas
Leafy Greens-kale, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, mustard, brocolli
Onions, leeks, garlic
(Maybe) bush beans
Carrots
And squash if the bugs aren't too much of a problem

I have started scraping the sod, I think tomorrow I will spend a couple of hours working if it isn't too rainy. I will be sure to document the proccess for everyone!

SQWIB
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Re: Asay's raised earth bed garden WIP.

Awesome, saved the PDF for later reading.

Just an FYI to everyone, if you have Google play books, you can save e- books, manuals and PDF's to read later.

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applestar
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Re: Asay's raised earth bed garden WIP.

I use wide mounded rows all the time but lowering the center like a trough is a new concept for me. My paths — not as wide as recommended — typically double as swales/irrigation ditch. I think I will adopt/try this out in some of my beds this year. 8)
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

SQWIB
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Re: Asay's raised earth bed garden WIP.

I guess you could do this as keyholes also in limited space, I've seen them do Hugelkultur keyholes that looked great.

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StephenAsay
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Re: Asay's raised earth bed garden WIP.

[youtuDOTbe][/youtuDOTbe]Another update: We rented a tiller and got most of the bed tilled. Back 10 feet had too many roots so I'll be going through it with our electric tiller and hand tools over the next week. I also bought a bunch of different seeds from our local farm supply, some of which will be planted as soon as the beds are ready, others I'll start growing indoors over the next couple of weeks. I went ahead and did a time lapse video for posterity. That tiller really was hard to keep under control until we figured out how to work it right, really hurt the both of us yanking on our arms. It really shows that I've let myself get out of shape. At least we are done with that for now. We also got material to build t-frames and a fence around the garden to keep our chickens as ducks out.


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PraticalGardener
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Re: Asay's raised earth bed garden WIP.

Welcome! I do some of my planning in the wintertime too. :D
My family's garden is fairly similar, our line garden is relatively flat and abit smaller.

StephenAsay
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Re: Asay's raised earth bed garden WIP.

Thanks, That keyhole is an interesting idea. I might try making some of those for plants like pumpkins, asparagus, and invasive herbs.

imafan26
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Re: Asay's raised earth bed garden WIP.

Welcome to the garden. It looks like you are really enthusiastic and "digging in". I never heard of the Mittleider process, so I looked it up. It does sound interesting.

I do advise you that it is best to go in and edit your profile to put your zone and location so that in future posts, we know where you are.

A 40x40 sqft garden, would be about half my entire yard. I have been gardening for a long time, but I have never had a single plot that big. Unless you are doing field crops, it is better to break it down into separate beds to make it more manageable and you can can take on a smaller chunk while you are still learning. The first year, you will have to put a lot of time into building infrastructure, set up irrigation, seed starting area, get tools and find somewhere to store them. (I don't have acreage or storage space so storage is a bigger issue for me. I have a pot junkyard in the corners of my yard. ), and building up the soil. If there are a lot of tree roots or the ground is hard, raised beds are the way to go, but you don't have to spend money on perimeters just yet, you can build a raised bed by mounding the soil instead.

I do believe in soil tests. Clemson extention service costs about $6 according to their website. (Half of what it costs me). Still worth it if you want to optimize fertilizer and only put in the nutrients you need. They also have a lot of good advice in their publications on starting a garden and varieties that are suitable for your area.

Unless you have had experience growing some of the things you are planning to plant before, I would only choose about 4 different things. Some things will grow well and some things won't. It will be easier if you do your research so you can concentrate on growing a few things well, rather than growing a lot of different things some might do well, but also might not.

Unless you have help, invest in labor saving tools like time and labor saving tools, I would take on a smaller plot until you know how much time you have to spend on the garden. In the first year, you won't have that much time and it will cost you more to grow things than it would be to buy them. You can source a lot of things cheap or for free, but you will have to look for them to reduce your costs. Once a garden matures and you have figured out what grows best where and have the infrastructure, tools, irrigation, and have balanced the soil, you will develop efficiencies that will allow you to expand out. It will probably take about 3 years of hard work to get there, so don't expect instant gratification.

Your list of vegetables include both cool and warm season plants, so you will need to plant them at the right time. Legumes are not demanding of the soil, but tomatoes and squash can be. Squash are easy, since you can amend just around the planting holes and let the vines sprawl. I would plant them where the vines can grow outside of the garden so you can save the best soil for other things. Tomatoes are heavy feeders and they have a lot of pests. I do not consider them a beginner plant, so I would not grow too many of them unless you have grown them before.

I can grow carrots, but, it usually is not worth it for me. It is cheaper to buy, it would take up too much space in my small garden and It still could not get enough for a year. You may have a better climate. I can only grow carrots September-May as they don't do well once the temperatures go over 75 degrees. My garden is a raised bed and I have about 12 inches of red clay that has been heavily amended over the years with compost (about 3-4 inches of compost are added every year). I can only plant a few heat tolerant varieties and it is hard for me to grow.



https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/planning-a-garden/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fp2SubRKKmQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2DDQ-uuLl0
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

Vanisle_BC
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Re: Asay's raised earth bed garden WIP.

Hi Asay (Stephen)

Just a couple of comments. Excuse me if your own experience makes them superfluous:

You said 36 or 42 inches apart for your beds. In my experience the wider would be better, if you have the room. You'll want not only the width for a wheel barrow and other 'vehicles', but room to turn them around and to squeeze past them at times.

You mention lots of tomatoes: It's never too early to think about how you'll support them. Some will grow taller than yourself.

For snap peas I can't see past Oregon Giant - really huge pods, hairless & stringless with tasty peas inside if you let them go that far. Again vertical support is best but not so tall.

I grow Durabel & Musselburgh leeks - they will overwinter. (So will some others.) We're still harvesting them now during our frosty season.

Good luck with your toil. Yes, on unbroken ground a tiller is a killer.
"The greater part of what my neighbors call good I believe in my soul to be bad, and if I repent of anything, it is very likely to be my good behavior." H. D.Thoreau. (Me too.)

imafan26
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Re: Asay's raised earth bed garden WIP.

Since you are encountering roots, you may have to think about raising the bed higher than just a couple of inches. It won't be enough for deep rooted plants like carrots. Tree roots will suck up nutrition from the soil and your plants may not grow that well if they have to compete for food. Even if the trees are killed, it can take a couple of years for the roots to decay. During that time, not much grows on top of that. You might need to think about a site farther from the trees or raised beds. You may have to line the bottom of the raised bed with a liner to try to hold off the roots invading the beds.

My mom's avocado invaded part of her garden where she planted potatoes. When it was dug up, there were some undersized potatoes and a whole lot of avocado roots.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

StephenAsay
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Re: Asay's raised earth bed garden WIP.

Hello everyone and thanks for checking in! I have some garden updates.
Unfortunately our tomatoes grew way to fast under the grow lights, they are all about 3 feet tall already. I also waited just a little too long in starting our early seeds. I will make do however, despite the heat I am going to try growing leafy greens still this spring. Even if they taste bad we can feed them to the pigs.

Yesterday I started more seeds, particularly our greens, peas, peppers, more tomatoes, watermellon, cantaloupe, zucchini, yellow squash, and cucumbers. I think I will directly sow garlic, basil, cilantro, onions, dill, beets, radish, and marigold between the tomatoes and squash. It is ok if yeild isn't great until fall, as I mostly want them for the aroma to confuse predators, and for small bits of flavoring.

I also decided to reduce the garden area to 32 feet wide, this eliminated a lot of the root problems.
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As you can see we have finished putting up the fence and adding mulch. Later I will build a simple fence gate, but our next priority is building the trellis for the back two rows of vine plants, and mounding up the beds to prepare for planting. There is still a chance in the next two weeks of another frost so I will start off by planting the winter varieties first.
Image Here you can see how I am starting the seedlings, I am making an attempt to grow as much as possible. It will be a squeeze but with vertical gardening we should be able to grow enough for the whole family to eat a decent amount of produce every day. The idea is to have enough growing for a big salad every day, as well as tomatoes for canning and eating fresh.
Image
Here is the current plan I have come up with, please excuse my elementary diagram.

I'll be raking up the beds tomorrow, and should be planting the first seeds in the garden this week.

StephenAsay
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Re: Asay's raised earth bed garden WIP.

Today we built the trellis frame. It is pressure treated lumber and will be supporting technically 4 rows of plants.
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There is a 3 1/2 foot walkway (one meter) in the middle of two feet of planting space. Each planting bed will have two rows of vining plants. The plants will be trained up bailing twine that is looped to the trellis. You might be able to see that we also have some thick fence wire going through the middle of the horizontal 4x4s. This is for the inner rows of plants to be angled inwards while the outer rows of plants will be led outwards.

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Our leafy greens have incredibly started to germinate in just two days. I also saw a three day old sugar baby watermellon. They will grow fast under those grow lights going 16 hours a day.

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My aunt also repotted our mature tomato plants. In total we have room for 42 tomatoes, and 42 other vining plants, so I am going to grow tons of peas and cucumbers, as well as a couple of cantaloupe plants.

We also decided to merge the front three areas into two 5' rows, this increases our planting area to 450 square feet. The front row will be all our squash and watermellon, and the one behind that will be full of leafy greens, onions, and some spicy stuff.
I think we will have enough space to grow the reccomended number of plants for all 6 of us, and hopefully with rigid care we will end up with lots of extra for neighbors, friends, and our animals.

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