Here’s our good friend, Herbdoc, with some interesting veggie garden musings:
One of the best things I’ve ever done for my vegetable garden is to install raised beds. Every year I would contemplate rotating the crops to prevent diseases and to stop depletion of the soil. For the most part this was easy to do as most veggies enjoy the same range of pH in the range of 6.0 – 7.0.
As an aside most gardeners needn’t be too concerned about the exact pH of their soils if they fall within this range. It isn’t exact number of the pH that is as important as it is the effect it has on the release of certain nutrients. Potatoes, however, are an exception and like the soil to be more acid (5.0 – 6.5), and my carrots always appreciate a good dose of sand to form better roots.
Last year I threw all caution to the wind and put in six fairly large raised beds and purchased several potato and carrot “bags” touted as the easier way to grow them. The potato bags got their acid soil, and the carrot bags were amended with sand.
I had very good crops from each which were evenly spaced across the middle of the garden. Various pots and boxes on three sides of the perimeter held a variety of culinary herbs and edible flowers while the back had the entire width covered with scarlet runner beans.
Each of the six beds was devoted to a vegetable: tomatoes, pepper, eggplant, peppers, Swiss chard and lettuces. All of the boxes also received a healthy dose of compost in addition to soil. I mulched all of the areas with several layers of newspaper covered with chopped cedar mulch.
It’s my great pleasure to report that the plants grew extremely well with very little weeding and/or watering, Clean up was also a breeze in the fall, and the garden is ready to go for 2012 with the addition of a bit more compost.
I’m planning on two experiments this spring. One is a raised bed scaled to put a set of cold frames on. (I scavenged a dozen windows from the dump.) I’ll experiment with some season extension, and see how early I can get greens going. The other is hugelkultur. I have plenty of unsightly deadfall and brush piles, and if I don’t do something with them, my wife wants me to burn them – (but I’ve already used up my customary “free pass” with the fire department when I burned a TV stand that went up in black plumes enough for a dozen tires). I’ve got thin soil above the septic system’s drain field, so it seems a potentially good solution to both problems. We shall see.
That hugelkultur sounds interesting, and good luck with the cold frames. Who knows? The winter has been so mild, you could be eating your own greens in April!
Loved that photo of the potatoes in raised beds! Can you tell us how the mixed order of potatoes turned out last summer? I’ve had very good success extending the season with a coldframe, but DN is right, that hugelkultur sounds fascinating! You’ll have to report back on it, Andy!
Thanks, Kathy. I had a great potato crop. They were diverse and delicious. Now if I could only find the time to order this years’……