Started on my raised bed (long post!)

wordwizMay 16, 2010

The weather cooperated Saturday and I was able to rotary till the raised bed at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds and then later that day start transplanting seedlings and sowing a few seeds. Most of the seedlings came from seeds donated by Baker Creek Heirloom seeds (, the others from a local hardware store.

Start with the tilling - the top of the bed has about four inches of silty dirt with just a tad of clay in it.

The next layer is eight inches of compost. The bottom layer was plain dirt from the bottom of the fairgrounds, just like the top layer. It is about eight inches thick. The two feet of depth should help keep the asphalt from transferring heat to the dirt and give the roots plenty of room to grow.

Before listing the various plants, I want to back up to the planning stage. The goal is to have mature plants, bearing fruit where appropriate, by August 10. At the same time, I did not want them to have completed their life cycle and looks like dead weeds or vines. Google and seed companies were valuable sources of information in this quest. They provided the days it will take for the plant to mature, whether sown as seeds or as seedlings. For the seedlings such as most of what I planted yesterday, I had to add and four-five weeks. Some of the little creatures such as cotton, Yicama and 7-pod hot pepper where sown last year or in January. Of course, the weather is a variable; last years mostly cool and wet July delayed the production and ripening of tomatoes and peppers, among others.

Another concern is the growing habits of some vegetables. Spinach, radishes, lettuce, some peas, etc., do not like hot weather. They bolt (go to seed) quickly or lose their taste. For this reason, I will probably be sowing some things through June and even early July.

So what has been planted so far? A quite eclectic group with more coming. YesterdayÂs transplants and the number of each were:

Jicama - four

Cotton - four

Eggplants - one each of Long Purple, Ping Tung and Black Champion

Sweet/Bell peppers - one each of Crispy Hybrid, Purple Beauty and Banana

Hot Peppers - one each of Jalapeno, Habenero, Black Pearl, 7-pod, Fish, Cayenne, Tepin, Hungarian Hot Wax

Tomatillo - one Tomatillo Verde

Mennonite Sorghum - four

Rice - four

Tomatoes - one each of Legend, Red Zebra, Red Delicious, Better Boy, Red Stuffer and Riesentraube (a cherry tomato)

Celery - three

Broccoli - three

Spices - two oregano, two parsley (still have Genovese, Lemon and Honey Basil as well as Cilantro and Marjoram to plant once they get acclimated to the outside).

There are also two rows of Silver Queen corn and a row of Black Seeded Simpson lettuce.

Today's additions:

Green Beans - Old Homestead, Chinese Red Noodle, Royalty Purple Pod

Bright Lights Swiss Chard

Mustard - Southern Giant Curled, Japanese Giant Red

Kale - Blue Curled Scotch, * Dwarf Siberian

Peas - Oregon Sugar Pod II, Lincoln Garden

Squash - Patisson Panache Jaune Et Vert Scallop, Tono Scuro di Piacenza (can you imagine trying to tell visitors to the fair what the plants are called?! IÂm going with "squash."

Cucumbers - Sikkim, Lemon, Telegraph Improved


Turnips - Yukon Gold

Plus, in a container, I will have peanuts and Alpine Strawberries - my PB&J stash!

I still need to sow Spinach - Bloomsdale and Giant Noble; Cabbage - Tete Noire and Early Jersey Wakefield; and onions.

Growing Information

I am not opposed to Better Living Through Chemistry! We always used fertilizers (10-10-10 and 33-0-0) on our crops and none of us had any abnormal problems. I even sprayed potatoes with DDT to kill the bugs. But I know urban folks tend to be more concerned and interested in organic (no chemicals) farming so I am attempting to go this route. There are organic insecticides/pesticides such as Safer Soap and Neem Oil. Hot pepper powder, garlic, even a tea made from tomato leaves can be added. They can be safely applied and the fruit eaten the next day, though it is always a good practice to wash fruit and veggies before eating.

There are also natural repellents for deer, rabbits, squirrels and hopefully geese.

Plus, I have experienced the beneficial results of using compost tea, applied every other week. I have been making gallons of it and do not intend to slow down.

I also learned of another all-natural fertilizer that studies showed had a significant impact on production - mixing yeast with sugar and dissolving it in water, then applying it twice a year.

One thing that some people forget, especially if they shop on-line or visit specialty stores, is that organic fertilizers and pesticides do not always cost an arm and a leg. My compost tea is as close to free as it can be. Rain water, table scraps, dirt from the yard, leaves from trees and plants - no cost. The only expense is running an air pump (uses 15 watts an hour!) to aerate it and I only do that for a day or two before adding it to the plants.

Hopefully, we can have a Fall Harvest at the fair grounds. One of the 4-H'ers donate a pig then have it with soup, salads and cooked greens! People will need to bring desserts!


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heather38(6a E,Coast)

Wow that sound great, good old 4H, I was in Young farmer's in the UK which has links with 4H and many friends had the opportunity to stay in the US with 4H families, I went to Kenya, on My YF exchange, it was an amazing experience, I would never of had without YF, Young Farmers are slightly older than 4H as we go from 14 to 26 and the age groups are separated 14-16, 16-26 but in the main most people join at 16, the 14-16 group tend to be in School clubs.
good luck and enjoy your harvest.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 10:40PM
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Rather than posting dozens of images that will take time to load, I'm posting this link to a web page that shows the plants in my raised bed. These plants were transplanted on Saturday and it has rained every day since then. Hopefully, next week, I can show some plants that have sprouted from seeds.


    Bookmark   May 20, 2010 at 8:08PM
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This sounds like such a neat project, Mike. How many people are helping with it?

My folks live in SE Missouri, and they've had a booger of a time getting their garden planted this year because of all the rain. Wish some of that precipitation would come on down here to Texas. We're dry as a bone (and hot too!)


    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 8:44AM
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So far it has been three of us - me, myself and I! I finished planting/sowing today: Genovese Basil, Lemon Basil, Holy Basil and Marjoram.

I still want to do a couple of large containers: one with corn, green beans and potatoes and another with peanuts and strawberries. The containers will be clear, though I will keep them covered until the fair to protect the roots but the hope is to show root veggies producing edible things!

Not sure about the soil mixture - we had more than 2" of rain from Wed-Friday, probably more than 3" here (it poured, I mean rained tigers and ponies for more than 20 minutes and that was just a small part of the total rainfall!) but the top is dry today. Even digging down six inches it is moist but friable. The top 10" or so is a mix of compost, aged horse manure and creek bottom dirt.

The scary thing is I have never tried growing anything in a raised bed before and had not heard of many of the varieties of plants until this year, let alone raised them. But 25,000 or more people will see this project.

This week temps are suppose to be in the mid-80s with lows in the 60s so the bed ought to warm up fast and hopefully all the seeds will germinate and be tall enough to show on images by Thursday!


    Bookmark   May 23, 2010 at 4:55PM
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That's quite an undertaking, Mike! Maybe some other folks will get excited about the project and volunteer to help you. Best of luck, and I look forward to reading your updates on how things are growing.


    Bookmark   May 25, 2010 at 6:31AM
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Some updated pictures of the bed. Some of the plants are showing great growth.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2010 at 11:03AM
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It's been nearly a month - a very wet and mostly warm one. I've made a few mistakes in what plants are planted where - some things are getting shaded and it is hurting them. But at the same time, the corn is hiding the lettuce which keeps it from bolting. SFG seems to mostly be working though trying to see between some plants or even get a string between stakes can be a challenge!
Updated pictures as of June 30.


    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 11:34AM
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Thanks for the photo updates! I've been following from the start.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 7:00PM
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Harvested the first stuff yesterday. Four pounds of greens: Mustard, Kale, Swiss Chard and lettuce. I'm going to try to log my harvests but I will not know if "visitors" help themselves.


    Bookmark   July 12, 2010 at 11:01PM
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