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applestar
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Pallet sided high raised bed hugelkultur experiment

Ha! That's a mouthful! :lol:

I thought I'd split this off to a separate thread from my veg and tomato garden progress (although technically this bed belongs in the White Sauce Garden/Tomato Garden) and just post highlights over there since just posting the building process is turning out to be quite cumbersome.

Here is the latest photo of the overall bed and garden area:
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I'm just going to upload the latest pictures after filling the beds for now, and then go grab links to some of the previously posted pictures. I'll flesh out the descriptive text as I can. So a good deal of this thread may undergo several revisions without obvious notification, though I guess I can try to bump it when I make significant changes.

Subject: Applestar's 2015 Garden
applestar wrote:I got these cut up "skids" thinking I would cut them down more and use them as sides for raised beds, then realized they were perfect solution to putting up some kind of a barrier against my neighbor's lawn service. I have spoken with the workers as well as their sales rep that comes around looking for business a number of times, but I know they don't really "...don't spray anywhere near your fence" or "only use granular product on windy days" or that their products/service is "100% safe because they are inspected by the EPA every month...." :roll:

But I've had the skids leaning on the fence for a while -- over a week now I think -- and had not sprung into action because I wasn't satisfied with their height -- it was satisfyingly high enough to completely block anything they are spraying on the grass, but it seemed clunky, out of place, and too much "in-your-face" plus I only had two of these panels and it was obvious I needed one more.

Then a couple of days ago, the light bulb finally lit up and I realized if I cut the top board off so they are three boards high, then I have a THIRD three board high piece that the guy tossed in for free. :idea: I wanted to cut them down yesterday but couldn't get to it until the end of the day and I really had to argue myself out of trying to cut anything -- and I had intended to use a cordless reciprocating saw -- when I was already feeling exhausted.

So this morning I waited until decent time -- 8AM, then began. ...it turned out that it was far EASIER to use a regular manual saw, but I was really pleased with the result:
Image

I'm going to cut up a few pallets and make surrounds for raised beds that will support these against the fence -- these lowered panels are 24"H so slightly lower height beds (2 boards or 16" high/deep) should be perfect.
Subject: Applestar's 2015 Garden
applestar wrote:My pallet raised bed project is up to this point. I just need to figure out how to secure them to each other, whether I want to be able to easily take them apart, etc.

Image

...I have to hurry because the sunflowers I was going to plant along the fence have sprouted and need to be planted out.
A couple of days ago, I used 3 ft U-posts to support the pallet pieces from falling over outwards, then I put some aged crumbling stumps and logs, branches from the woodpile, etc. in the bottom as fillers and as in hugelkultur, then put a layer of newer and unfinished compost ingredients in the bottom to help with the decomposition process and to invite earthworms and detrivores to the party :()
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...today, I finished filling the beds by wadding the open pallets slats with dried clippings and thatch raked up and gathered from the lawn after DH mowed too tall grass, then with dry windblown leaves from the back fence area:
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Then a layer of cut green weeds:
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After packing all these down, I "primed" with about 4 gallons each of stinky aerated alfalfa tea.

And then filled/covered with several bags of top soil and sand:
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-- I'm planning to mix in some commercial organic fertilizer and dolomitic lime, maybe some large chunk DE (UltraSorb) and then plant with mushroom compost as the topmost mulching layer.
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applestar
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Re: Pallet sided high raised bed hugelkultur experiment

It's going to rain for several hours overnight. I will see how the soil has settled in the morning and decide if I need to add more.... I need sufficient soil depth above the essentially hotbed of composting BROWN and GREEN materials.

...the rain is welcome because I didn't want to wet the stuff down with water from the faucet -- but, naturally, I forgot my heavy leather gardening gloves out there :roll: ...
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Re: Pallet sided high raised bed hugelkultur experiment

Just for fun, I took photos of the different bags of topsoil I used... 8)
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Re: Pallet sided high raised bed hugelkultur experiment

This morning's progress:
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Fertilized the beds and added the mushroom compost. planted the overgrown sunflower seedlings which were pretty entangled so I'm not even sure if they will make it, but I separated them and planted them anyway, and buried them deep.

Set up and filled the SIP so it is ready to plant. I put the mylar emergency blanket over the (black-side up) ProMixBX bag plastic mulch mostly to compensate for the fence casting a shadow -- but now that I'm looking at the photos, it looks a little under-filled, so I will probably need to push a bit more potting mix in under the mulch when I plant. :oops:

Last of the White Sauce Garden tomatoes that have been waiting will be planted in these beds and the SIP, along with some companion plants and herbs.

I'm using the remote fill technique using syphoned tube to a bucket so I don't have to go all the way in the fenced garden to fill the reservoir. :()
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Re: Pallet sided high raised bed hugelkultur experiment

Planted the tomatoes :()
Image
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Rairdog
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Re: Pallet sided high raised bed hugelkultur experiment

Me likey! IMO this is the best/cheapest solution to build a raised bed. Yard waste and rotten wood are usually easy to find. It saves a lot of money from filling in with bags upon bags such as Mels mix. It's also going to keep the nutes replenished with good moisture/drainage.

I have 3-4 different varieties of mushrooms growing which tells me this is a big healthy organism all working together in harmony.

I am thinking of covering the mine in radish and mustard for a fall crop. Let it die out from frost and cover with leaves. I might try the sunflowers for shade next year.

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Re: Pallet sided high raised bed hugelkultur experiment

very interesting thread! I will be following along to see your progress.

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Re: Pallet sided high raised bed hugelkultur experiment

Update photos :D
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-- I lost all of the initial planting of Golden Pascal celery on the left (VGD) side and half of the Golden Self Blanching celery on the right (VGB) side. I think part of the problem was the scorching hot weather we had right after planting -- I tried to provide a bit of shade, but it probably wasn't enough. The other might be that VGB is closer to the faucet as well as lower down the slope and maybe getting just a little bit more water. I don't have any more Golden Pascal left but I do have a few Golden Self Blanching, so I'll just plant those.

-- between the vinyl fence and all these lovely pallets, plus the neighbor's hosta border only a few feet beyond, the slugs have found their way up to the top of the pallet garden and are feasting on the bush beans. I will have to take measures.

-- by this time, the plants should have reached the loosely filled bottom layer of sticks and branches. I'm guessing they are getting root pruned and/or sufficient soil have been washed down between for the roots and there is enough moisture to find their way below to the soil underneath.

-- I think one of the benefits that can be attributed to the high raised bed is that this area by the fence tended to be shady. The fence is on SW side so the rising sun is blocked by the long shadow of the house until the sun is higher, then the area can get direct sun as long as nothing else in the beds are too tall, but as soon as the sun travels past the fence, the fence casts a constant shadow and the picket gaps are 66% privacy. Now these beds are high enough to get more sun and the reflected light off the white fence is brighter up higher too.
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Re: Pallet sided high raised bed hugelkultur experiment

image.jpg
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Susan W
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Re: Pallet sided high raised bed hugelkultur experiment

This is a nice garden! I went through again to see where the hugelkutltur part is, and saw reference to some small branches and twigs. What I see, and could be wrong, is a large container garden on steroids, or raised bed on steroids.

I noticed you used lots of different bags of available stuff, similar to what I do on small scale in the 16 -20" containers. I also add a few extra worms. You threw in available twigs and small branches, and the grass clippings. (I usually let the grass clippings go back to the grass. If a bit thick just spread out. I do the mowing, any after clean up, and cut my grass high) Perhaps when I start a new large pot, not just refreshing existing, may add some twigs in lower layers.

The garden looks like it is doing great this season. Next season just refresh/add some fresh dirt, compost, stuff. Plant. As with my large pots, builds its own ecosystem.
Have fun!
Susan

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Re: Pallet sided high raised bed hugelkultur experiment

Thanks! "Steroids" indeed! But I didn't use much fertilizer at all. So I think the layered browns and greens (those are more like huge WEEDS rather than just grass clippings) have been composting and melding. There ARE actually crumbled, aged tree trunk rounds in the bottom (they were already broken down by mushrooms) as well as branches from the wood pile that were as much as 2-3" diameter. I just didn't think to take the time to take more pictures. I was concerned that there would be a Nitrogen tie up interim period, but it looks like the fertilizer took care of that gap in the earlier stage.

Here's another update photo. The surviving sunflowers seem happy and the tomatoes are growing wild and needing constant addition to their support/trellising system.
image.jpg
I hope my neighbors will try these "white" tomatoes. They will definitely have access to Coyote and Champagne Cherry which are supposed to be very similar 1/2 size (about dime size) clear skin Ivory yellow tomatoes with comparable burst of sweet flavor. (I've grown Coyote before -- a variety that has earned tenure. I'm running a comparison with Champane Cherry as well as a couple of others).
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Susan W
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Re: Pallet sided high raised bed hugelkultur experiment

In similar but scaled down version, I use some of the 'green, too fresh' top soil and wood chip compost in the pots, mixed in lower layer. I figure it will break down enough by the time any roots get there! Also with the various ingredients, usually don't fertilize as such. Of course depends on plants put in, duh!
Have fun!
Susan

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Re: Pallet sided high raised bed hugelkultur experiment

On this discussion, and making a new pot, added twigs! This is a 16" pot, about equally deep. For the lower 6+ inches put in cheap top soil. Added twigs, about 6 small pecan twigs. When one has pecan trees, has more more twigs than one can shake a stick at. (groan). Well, they may eat N. Add some shredded fresh picked comfrey leaves. Then work on up to fill the pot with my usual mish-mash of stuff. Found a few worms and accompanying dirt in the compost/enriched dirt pile.
Now, who is the winner in this pot? A milkweed, incarnata, 'Ice Ballet" gifted to me earlier this season. Realized I didn't have an in-ground space, so made it a home. I stuck a couple of annual Salvia red bonfire in for color.
Have fun!
Susan

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Re: Pallet sided high raised bed hugelkultur experiment

Very cool idea. The ingenuity of our gardeners is inspiring! :-()
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Re: Pallet sided high raised bed hugelkultur experiment

Since this project was so successful, I think I can safely move this thread to the new Raised Bed forum! :()

First I'll get some photos of the beds in their current state -- I didn't fill the bed all the way up so the top row of the slats acted sort of like a border fence, and there were branches in the bottom. I had considered planting a cover for or filling with leaves over the winter, but I did neither, partly because I wanted to see how much the bed would settle.

...well, the soil level is low enough that I haven't been able to plant yet. I bought some mushroom compost and am planning to add my own home made compost as well. I plan to mix this into some of the the VG beds, then divvy up the mixture to add to the pallet sided raised beds as well as a couple of sections of the VG beds that are going to get raised up a little (or a lot -- depending on how ambitious I get). I have one whole pallet left and a crate, two pieces of skid.... I might have to go get more. :-()
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Re: Pallet sided high raised bed hugelkultur experiment

image.jpeg
...need a lot more... Image
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Re: Pallet sided high raised bed hugelkultur experiment

Last year, sunflowers and tomatoes did fairly well in these beds, but some of the others like sweet alyssum and basi, as well as the peppers were runty and struggled. This spring, I sowed various flower seeds on the VGD side, but only ones that did well were vining type nasturtiums (Fordhook).

I decided the trick must be to plant DEEP rooted plants that can quickly reach the solid ground beneath the raised bed which tends to dry out. So, on the VGB for summer crop, I planted okra and eggplants, as well as luffah in the VGB side. At first they needed to be watered carefully so as not to dry out, and there were some incidents of ant colony exploding and swarming my arm. :eek: But since they hit bottom, they have been growing exponentially 8)



VGB PSHRB
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