Raised Bed About done with gardening

TKO

Senior Member
Where I live, the soil is nothing but hard clay. So, years back I built these raised beds. I started off with a great soil mix, then amended the garden soil every year. I even baked it a few times with black plastic in the sun...just leaving it on through winter and through the hot spring. That fixed the weeds pretty good. I don't see as many weeds when I do that. However, my crops have mostly been dismal. The only thing that grows like crazy are the cherry tomatoes. Regular tomatoes...leaves mostly turn yellow/brown then the plant dies off. I even crop the tomatoes so no leaves are anywhere near the ground. I clip off the bad parts and throw that away. Zucchini. I've tried everything to get zucchini to grow. The squash bug and moth are my nemesis. I tried tinfoil around the base, as well as BT. I get maybe 2-3 zucchini off 3 plants. INCREDIBLE! Other than spraying down my garden with chemicals, not sure what to do next. If I do that, I might as well just give up and buy store bought.

I know one thing. I am pulling out these raised beds. I am not seeing enough return on the garden to keep them in and having to mow around them. Maybe I could till up the clay, add in better mixed soil and see if that is better. The boards in the beds are in need of replacement anyway...so I am just going to cut my losses and do away with them.

When I was a kid, we had massive gardens. We once had an acre garden. Incredible it seems to me now. Just throw seeds in and hoe...and anything grew back then. We would have zucchini coming out the ears and have to give it away. Same with tomatoes and peppers.
 

hammerhead

Veteran Member
Clearly something's not right. Raised beds with good soil mixes perform well.

You say you started with a good soil mix. How did you water? (I use drip, which puts the water where it needs to go, regularly, in the hot Colorado sun.)
 

West

Senior nut
I hear you. The dreaded squash bugs are evil little basterds.

Have found it better to work for living and buy from farmers markets. Though we do still grow alot of vegetables and things that do good in our AO. Find the plants and dig holes to do spot gardening. Lots of other opportunities.

Keep trying.
 

West

Senior nut
In our area raised beds seem to dry out to fast. Good for early spring crops though.

I've gone to digging deep holes up to 20" deep. Then mixing store bought and our own compost, plus the goats and chickens and horses help, plus the neighbors cows.
 

Attachments

West

Senior nut
Squash bugs on zucchinis are easy. Go to your feed store and get the big bag of diatomaceous earth. When the bugs show up to eat your plants, dump copious amounts of DE on the plants. Repeat as necessary.

Don't inhale.
Didn't work for us. And we really tried, bought the DE. By the 50 pond sack.
 

TKO

Senior Member
Sounds like your soil needs to be amended, if they’re not producing fruit then the plants are probably under nourished.
I don't know. I've dumped in a lot of bags of organic earthworm castings, and some calcium a few times over the years. Earthworm castings should be a good soil amender. Man, they are expensive, too. You'd think it would be good.
 

TKO

Senior Member
I live in the midwest. Water is fairly plentiful here but I do water sideways...so as to not get water on the leaves of my plants. For me, I have done it just watering everything top down to just the soil only and I've found no difference. I went to a crazy extreme once to ensure slicing tomatoes had ZERO water on them. I built a plastic tool that kept water off the leaves as I watered below. I sort of held it right under the leaves, and then watered.

Clearly something's not right. Raised beds with good soil mixes perform well.

You say you started with a good soil mix. How did you water? (I use drip, which puts the water where it needs to go, regularly, in the hot Colorado sun.)
 

West

Senior nut
Yep. I tried DE one time. It didn't help at all. Organic DE was expensive, too.
We buy ours from a local feed mill. $25 for 50 pounds of feed grade DE. Also mix a little with our chicken and goat feed, keeps the weevils (or what ever those bugs are) at bay. Also is a anti-cakeing agent.
 

TKO

Senior Member
We buy ours from a local feed mill. $25 for 50 pounds of feed grade DE. Also mix a little with our chicken and goat feed, keeps the weevils (or what ever those bugs are) at bay. Also is a anti-cakeing agent.
You just sprinkle it on the plant?
 

naturallysweet

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Didn't work for us. And we really tried, bought the DE. By the 50 pond sack.
Worked for me. I dumped handfuls on each plant at a time. They come in waves here in the spring. Literally hundred of bugs per plant. I killed them. Then a few weeks later it was safe to plant the pumpkins.

I had the white food grade DE. It's what I found in sale.
 

West

Senior nut
Yes we have native red sand stone soils and it works great to mix with aged compost, manures, and organic store bought soils for amending soils.

Plus add a good mulch on top.
 

Wildwood

Senior Member
Raised beds need amended every year and usually some new top soil. Danny at Deep South Homestead (youtube channel) is going back to chemical fertilizers and I'm considering it on my otherwise organic garden. It's time to get real about food production. My daddy used triple 13 and lime every year and that's about all he did other than plow and plant. His gardens were very productive. He also used some hybrid plants and I've noticed a trend with the youtubers who have preached nothing but heirlooms, some are venturing into the world of hybrids with good results. LIme did a world of good for my garden this year but ymmv.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZuABDBOCy8&t=12s
 

West

Senior nut
You just sprinkle it on the plant?
Yes. The little fukkers lay eggs under the leaves then they hatch and go straight to the main vine. We even looked under every leaf and hand disposed them.

Yes, the DE works sometimes but trying to grow squash of any kind organically has proved to be futile here in Oklahoma for us.
 

TKO

Senior Member
Yes, the DE works sometimes but trying to grow squash of any kind organically has proved to be futile here in Oklahoma for us.
That may be the case. If so, I can go to the farm stands and buy zucchini easy enough...and cheaper than I can grow it.
 

onmyown30

Contributing Member
Hubby and I did our first garden together this year. I’ve had a few when the kids were little but haven’t gardened in nearly 10yrs. Our cucumbers never grew good, lots of evil squash bugs but they never fully took over. Tomatoes has/had some blossom rot.

Peppers did fantastic this year which I always had problems with but they grew amazing. Our spring garden was amazing lots of lettuce, spinach, celery, greens....... I’m excited to get the fall garden started. Not giving up yet! Whatever problems we had this Summer will help next summer!
 

20Gauge

Has No Life - Lives on TB
I can understand, but keep at it. There is something wrong.

In our case it was a very bad year. The winter did not kill of enough of the insect population and we have been eaten alive all summer. It is a bad year for us.
 

Wildwood

Senior Member
Hubby and I did our first garden together this year. I’ve had a few when the kids were little but haven’t gardened in nearly 10yrs. Our cucumbers never grew good, lots of evil squash bugs but they never fully took over. Tomatoes has/had some blossom rot.

Peppers did fantastic this year which I always had problems with but they grew amazing. Our spring garden was amazing lots of lettuce, spinach, celery, greens....... I’m excited to get the fall garden started. Not giving up yet! Whatever problems we had this Summer will help next summer!
That's how it's been for me for about the last four years but I've learned a ton. Youtube has been a huge help too. We hadn't gardened in over twenty years but I'm so glad we started back. It's took this long to work out most of the kinks...not all lol.
 

West

Senior nut
That may be the case. If so, I can go to the farm stands and buy zucchini easy enough...and cheaper than I can grow it.
Many of my customers grow it, and I'm sure they use modern pesticides. Anyway by this time of year I have had enough free zucchini, and other squashes for the year. In fact right now we still have one of the lower drawers in the fridge is full of yellow squash and green zucchini.
 

dioptase

Contributing Member
Something isn't right if you can't get a good crop from your raised beds. At least, that is not the case here (but I AM in a different climate than you).

One thought that occurred to me is that all the fertilizer in the world won't do you any good if the soil pH is off; the plants won't be able to uptake the nutrients.

You also need to have the proper amount of water. Raised beds drain and so the irrigation needed may be more than for in-ground veggie growing. (I don't know that for a fact as I can't grow veggies in-ground here, but it seems a reasonable assumption.) Some veggies like lettuce and cukes really need a fair amount of water to produce, so you have to supply it. You also have to have a planting mix that isn't going to work against you (be too dry, too draining).

My kitchen garden is pretty much all in raised beds (I did try two fabric bags this year), and is gardened "organically" (I hate that word) with compost and organic fertilizers. The lettuce/mint/cucumber beds are irrigated daily for 5 min; a bed with bunching onions, peppers, and tomatoes is irrigated 2-3x/week for 15 min. (Since I am guessing yours is a hotter climate, you would need to irrigate at least 3x/week, maybe more.) If I want minerals, I add something like Maximize to the soil. I top dress the soil with small size redwood chip mulch which helps regulate the soil moisture and which over time decays and adds more organic matter to the bed. Now that we've dug out the redwood roots (at least for this year and hopefully the next) the garden is producing well. (Of course, while I have my own critter pests to deal with, I don't have the same ones as you do - no squash bugs here.)

So check your soil pH and soil moisture.
 

China Connection

TB Fanatic
What I have found with raised beds is that the material in the beds needs be fairly dense. New material is very open and does not hold moisture well. When material packs down the air exchange reduces so the evaporation is a lot less.

Using fine coconut fiber in the mix helps a lot with water retention.

I use lots of natural fertilizers plus a hydroponic mineral mix. Three types of rock dust. Manures etc.
 
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Wildwood

Senior Member
A little professional secret.. Buy a bag of osmocote plus. It contains all macro and micro nutrients in a time release formula. 100 grams to 10 sq ft. Will give you explosive growth.
Available at Amazon

P.S. it has to be the plus.. not the regular.
I used it this year but I'm about out. I just ordered more from Amazon and they are about half the price per pound as WM.
 
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