Raised Beds, of Another Sort

Discussion in 'Homesteading' started by werewolf won, Jul 17, 2017.

  1. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    My wife is retired now, she loves gardening and sharing her gardening. So she volunteers many hours at the local Senior Center working their landscapes and gardens. Many of these raised beds are elevated, as you can see, so the seniors can plant and harvest them without having to get on the ground. They are at two different heights, some you can tend standing others from a wheeled chair. They went untended for a long time, but Mrs. Wolf has them back producing and giving the old folks a garden of their own again.

    She has to select stuff that people can pick themselves, and that produce a good crop so everyone that wants some will have some available. So she has wax beans, summer squash, tomatoes, chives/onions, an edible flower and sweet green peppers growing at these gardens, and some hanging flowers for the folks who don't like gardening.

    The old folks really seem to enjoy the fruits of her labor.
     

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  2. hunter63

    hunter63 Bushmaster

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  3. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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  4. hunter63

    hunter63 Bushmaster

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    One guy was growing potatoes in an old rotting round hay bale...
    Work so well he had to make "new old rotting hay bales....

    We DW and I plus BIL kept MIL garden going when she was in her 90's....buckets on her porch with dirt.
    She just liked getting her hand dirty....
     
  5. MrFixIt

    MrFixIt Old Jarhead Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    This is something my wife and I have tried the last 2 years (not my photo) and it works very well for tomatoes.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. hunter63

    hunter63 Bushmaster

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    I notice that has a water hose running to it......They do dry out fast.
    Had 4 hanging on the stockade fence posts......was awful heavy.

    Use small verity tomatoes....plant impatiens (flowers) on the top...They will start to wilt when need ing water....but will perk back up when you do water them.
     
  7. Waxwing

    Waxwing Tracker

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    werewolf won, your wife is giving a precious gift of time and talent and what a blessing for those residents!! At our home, we have been doing straw bale gardening for 3 years now with great success. We used the spent bales at the end of the 1st growing season for filling a new raised bed and most recently as a layer on a new no-till, ground bed we started this year by placing cardboard over lawn & covering with decomposed leaves from last fall, the spent bales from last year's garden, and some clay soil out of holes we dug for a new blueberry bed. I did not plan to plant in the ground bed this year, except to border it with sunflowers and sow legumes to build the soil up more, but some kitchen compost had seeds from a Delicata squash and they produced abundantly up until the squash bugs got them this past week. The decomposed straw bales make some awesome black gold! Some WONDERFUL benefits to straw bale gardening are 1) farmers in our area do not spray wheat with pesticides as it is grown over winter here, 2) when arthritis flares make it difficult to move about easily and it happens to be a day longer garden work is required, I can easily tend to the garden seated on a stool moving it along with me as I work, and 3) there are VERY little to zero weed issues, though the bales can sprout "hair" from wheat seeds that got left behind after harvest before they baled the straw. :) We start most all of our plants from seed and were about a month behind this year, so suckering the tomatoes so they put on growth initially just ended & plants are bearing fruit now. Also, we normally cardboard and mulch walkways every two years, and haven't quite gotten that completed yet this year :)

    This year's bale bed with new, no-till ground bed on far side
    1-Bale Bed.jpg

    A shot of one bale row's tomatoes from a previous year
    2-East Bale Row.jpg

    An old cattle panel from my inlaw's farm as a grow arch for an indeterminate (vining) Tomato Blueberries and Aremenian Cucumbers. Beet greens are in the washtub.
    4-Cattle Panel Arch.jpg

    Looking through bale garden to bean trellis on south side and blueberry bed beyond that (note the extremely curly tomato branches on lower portion of plants - it is not the BCTV (virus) so possibly too much nitrogen from the bale conditioning recipe - though we never had that issue before - or over watering in the beginning. They're happily coming out of that now and newer growth is normal.
    3-Other Bale Rows.jpg

    The new no-till ground bed built partially with the decomposed straw bales "black gold" from last year's bale garden
    5-New Ground Bed.jpg

    New raised bed built the 2nd year filled largely with composted bales from the 1st year's bale garden
    6-Raised Bed.jpg
     
  8. bgf

    bgf Scout

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    Those senior height beds look great and gardening is great activity. One thing that has worked great for me on the deeper beds that are in ground is digging out the settled soil and putting rotten wood then spoiled hay and manure about halfway up before putting the dirt back in. Sort of wood, some dirt, hay, manure, then more dirt. I do it in spring every other year but it could be done in fall with less rotted hay or straw. These beds both drain well and retain moisture, tomatoes and peppers love the set up. Mentioning this because soil to fill beds can be expensive, and raised beds can dry out quickly with some soils, so low cost refill that helps both concerns.

    The straw bales work well in wet climates or with watering. I water by hand and wore myself to a frazzle keeping the bales moist during long dry spells, though, when I tried it. Has anybody tried planting into the bales perpendicular to the straw? I think they might retain water better that way?
     
  9. Waxwing

    Waxwing Tracker

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    bgf: Gardening is great activity for sure! I like the sound of the ground bed you build by pulling out the settled soil and mixing in the other items before putting the dirt back in. As far as water for the straw bales, we have a hose out from the faucet at the house, and it is hooked to a manifold near the garden, of which one port is dedicated to a hose connected to the line of soaker hoses on top of the bales. Its all one continuous strand, so where it crosses the ground between the rows in a couple places, we had to duct tape that section so as not to be wasting water. Otherwise it works well and is supervised by a timer we also have connected at the manifold to allow watering on a schedule. I love that part. I still have to water the raised bed and the two bales at the grow arch when needed, but it's not been too bad this year. The timer at the manifold and the two infrared motion sensor "scarecrow" sprinklers we have to keep deer and other critters out of the garden, were the techie parts that got my husband's interest in the garden going. :)
     
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  10. gila_dog

    gila_dog Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Very nice! Hat's off to your wife for all the beautiful things that are growing. I'll bet the old farts (I can say that because I am one) really enjoy the garden.
    So what holds the dirt in those wooden boxes?
     
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  11. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Slats and screening line the bottoms. I guess she loads the bottom with thick compost then tops that off with top soil for the last few inches.
     
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