Tag Archive for gardening

Gardens Continued: Raised Bed

One of the most prolific forms of gardening is the raised bed method. The raised bed method sinus tad it sounds: you are literally raising your garden bed.

Raised bed gardens start with selecting an area to fencing, or boxing in, with wood timber, cement blocks, or anything else that may be fashioned to hold soil. 

The height of the bed can vary form only a few inches above ground soil to a height tall enough to accomadate the elderly and handicapped. The minimum height is based off from whatever crops you are growing in the raised bed. The minimum height for growing lettuce allows for a very shallow box. Carrots, on the other hand, creates the need for a minimum of 12″ of raised bed depth. 

The width of the bed can vary just as much as the depth, from one row up to the entirety of a garden. The basic rule of thumb is this: make sure your raised bed isn’t so wide that you can’t teach to the middle for easy weeding. Additionally, it’s important to make sure that you leave enough space between the plants and the box framing to assure that the roots aren’t short on space. 

Some people plant their crops extensively in raised beds. While that is a possibility, depending on the size of your garden, it’s an expensive possibility. For our homestead, where we try to grow as much of our food as possible, raised beds serve a specific purpose. We save our raider bed ares for herbs, shallow root crops, such as lettuce and time intensive crops such as broccoli.  Not only does it make the certain crops more easy to notice in a large garden, but it also allows for easier access. The more thourough drainage of the raised bed is also a plus, prohibiting drowning and molding during wet seasons. 

Gardening and It’s Many Forms: Square Foot Gardening

PlantView

For the month of January, I have decided to do a series of weekly blogs looking at the different components of gardening that I take into account when setting up plans for any given season. I’ll still be adding in random posts here and there, but these gardening posts will be scheduled ahead of time.

This post starts off the series by looking at the many forms of gardening. When most people say they “have a garden” most people tend to think of the standard garden of valley and hills. While that method of gardening is “tried and true,” there are many different methods to gardening that can be practiced. Four of the most common methods of gardening are square foot, raised bed, “wild,” and companion planting. Each methods comes with positive and negative aspects. Many homesteaders tend to eventually use a combination of these methods, along with others.

SQUARE FOOT METHOD
The square foot method is ideal for small gardens when a lot needs to be grown. The square foot method literally takes one square foot of dirt and places into it as much produce as possible. In order to do this, you take the width between seed placement, not rows, and use this as a guide.

For example, if carrots are to be grown two inches apart after thinning, you take this 2″ spacing and apply it to the square foot that the carrots are going to be planted in, ignoring the recommendations for rows 8″ apart. Here’s how extensive this is: if going by a traditional recommendation of carrot seeds 2″ apart with rows 8″ apart only 12 carrot seeds would be planted in a square foot, where as carrot seeds planted using the square foot method of spacing 2″ from every other seed (so 2″ seed spacing and effectively row spacing) allows for up to 36 carrots to be planted in one square foot, 3 times the amount of traditional planting recommendations. 

Remember how I said every method has it’s positive and negative attributes? Obviously, the positive here is the amount that you can grow in a small space. The negative? Well, when plants from grown so tightly together there is a higher rate of mortality due to insects and disease. The square foot method is one that needs to be done by those willing to put in the research as to which plants benefit from this. Also, plants that need more space, such as tomatoes and pumpkins, do not benefit from the square gardening method, if anything planting these so tightly to one another more often than not ends in catastrophe.

Having played with the square foot method, I feel that the plants that this method works best for are for those with broad leaves, such as beans, or plants that don’t tend to get waylaid by disease, such as carrots. Tomatoes will be attacked by blight, lettuces will choke each other out, and pea plants will become a tangled mess.

Never ending changes…

Sweet little oneThis is our life now: the constant changes that the cycle of life brings.

This is the third chick we’ve lost this year; all three were white rocks. On came in DAO, one passed only two days later, and then this little one at roughly two weeks old. It’s hard to see their little bodies so lifeless. Even knowing that they will be meat birds, we still love them with all our hearts until judgement day comes for them.

It’s not just animals, either. Even the gardens have a cycle. Seeding, tending, weeding, watching, and enjoying the growth of the plants makes you grounded, connected to each little sprout. Losing them to heat, water, predators of the herbivore variety, and then the eventful harvest tugs at your heart strings.

Isn’t that life, though? The happiness, sadness, pain, and loss all intertwined. I would rather we live with this mixture of emotions while tending our own gardens, flocks, and land than walking through the automaton world of grocery stores any day.

Asparagus Has Been Planted

Asparagus 2014_1We had to swing into the local hardware store today to pick up more screening and staples to chicken/groundhog proof the gardens. While I there I decided to buy myself a Mother’s Day gift: asparagus roots. Last year we planted a crown from my FIL’s old asparagus bed, but I know better than to think one crown could ever produce enough for us. When I saw the bin marked ASP – JERSEY SUPREME 25/$12.99, I couldn’t resist. In the top photo here you can see the asparagus bed is, marked out by the bright orange posts, and the five brambles that we transplanted last year (2 wild and 3 bought). This is down on the peninsular that our stream floods over every year. It’s the only area that has enough sun and drainage for both the brambles and the asparagus, so we’re hoping all will do well.

Asparagus 2014_2Here’s a picture of the bed itself. It’s about 6′ long and 2′ wide. After cutting the top soil with a spade, I flipped the chunks of sod over to help kill off the grass. I then added a wheelbarrow full of mulch that we had kicking around from another project. I placed the small root bundles in groups of two (and one of three) rows and placed a wheelbarrow full of compost on top of that. Hubster helped me cut a strip of chicken wire and peg down on top to help deter the chickens and groundhogs from investigating. On top of the wire we placed some grass that had been scalped from where the new garden bed will be.

All in all, I feel pretty confident in it. We’ll see if anything comes up this year, and more importantly, what comes up next year .

Seeds and Tubers On the Way!

Here are the seeds that we’ve ordered from FedCo for this year:

  • Ireland Creek Annie Bean OG
  • Patriot Shell Pea OG
  • Green Arrow Shell Pea OG
  • Little Leaf H-19 Pickling Cucumber OG
  • Tonda di Parigi Carrot
  • Atomic Red Carrot OG
  • Danvers Carrot OG
  • Antares Lettuce OG
  • Lollo di Vino Lettuce OG
  • Summer Lettuce Mix
  • Winter Lettuce Mix
  • Czech Black Hot Pepper OG
  • Thai Hot Pepper OG
  • Oregon Spring Tomato OG
  • Principe Borghese Cherry Tomato OG
  • Wild Bergamot
  • Catnip
  • Bodegold Chamomile
  • Caribe Cilantro OG
  • Bouquet Dill OG
  • Greek Oregano
  • Mammoth Grey Stripe Sunflower
  • Plum Purple Radish

We still have pole beans, bush beans, Ireland Creek Annies, radish, spinach, pie pumpkin, cucumber, carrot, Coral shell peas, tomato, and bell pepper seeds as well. We’re picking up a couple different tomatoes this year – Oregon Spring and Principe Borghese Cherry – as the Glaciers and San Diegos didn’t seem to do too well. I’m really excited about growing bergamot, catnip, and chamomile, as it will lower our necessity to buy tea a ton, especially when you consider that we already have a surplus of mint in one herb bed.

For potatoes we decided to be a little more selective this year. Last year we bought the “classic keepers” variety pack which really helped us to take note of what does and doesn’t grow really well for us. Out of the five types we got to try, we’re ordering Kennebecs and German Butter Balls, both late varieties. We’re also going to take a stab at Rose Finn Apple, which is an early fingerling, and Red Golds, which are about a mid season potato.

I’ll update more on what the gardens will look like and such later.