Raised Bed How is my garden growing?

nomifyle

Has No Life - Lives on TB
A few days ago my yellow squash plants looked great, yesterday they look awful, something has been eating on them. I've gotten 5 tiny squash from them, I sliced one and put it on a sandwich, and it tasted good. One I gave to our main nanny goat who is showing her age, she loved it too.

This year we planted more than usual, as many people have done. This is a big learning curve for us or rather me. In two of the raised beds I planted tomatoes, each bed is 8' long and 3' wide. DH had me plant a back row and then stagger a second row. This is not working out. The tomato plants are huge and its like a jungle and will be problematic to pick tomatoes. Also the space between the raised beds is too narrow. I don't think when we put the garden to bed that I can get DH to move the beds farther apart, but I can get in there and level out the ground more and put gravel between the beds. Its so uneven between the beds that I have a hard time not falling on my face. DH is will to do a lot of things but I can't seem to get my ideas across very well because when he's finished something its not what I had envisioned.

Another issue with the raised bed garden that has not worked well has been that he put the fence right up to the side of the beds and I can't pick from that side, only in the middle of the jungle. He has agreed to move the fence in the fall. And besides the raised beds being only one board high, which he's willing to add two more boards high, I'm going to make a couple of beds with concrete blocks three blocks high, maybe that height will be better for my back, but I'm not convinced.

As the garden is right now its hard for me to work in it more than a few minutes a day, bending over makes my head feel like its going to fall off. That added to the fact that I'm allergic to most things outside.

judy
 

summerthyme

Administrator
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Judy... can you fit something like this between the beds?


We also found out the hard way that you want a LOT more space between raised beds than you think! I'm going to have to insist that we move several of them this fall... it's he'll on my spine to sit wedged sideways and then reach out to weed.

I've found that if you want men to follow your ideas/instructions, you realky need to draw them a plan or blueprint... all carefully labeled and explained! It helps greatly with the, "gee, I thought you said 8 inches" argument, and gives them something concrete to refer to when they're in the middle of the project and can't quite remember what you said... most of them don't like to ask for directions or clarification during home projects anymore than they do when driving!

And yes, tomato plants (exceptions for determinate "bush" types) need a LOT more room than most people believe. We've gone from 30" spacing to 6 feet between plants... and can still have them grow into each other in a good year. The year hubby put 80 tons of manure on my 1/2 acre garden (good example of why you need to be specific! I told him, "that upper garden needs 'a lot' of manure this year", but never dreamed he'd unload the entire winter's supply from the 30'x70' barn onto it! LOL!) my tomato plants ended up seven feet tall and filled in the entire 4 feet between rows. Amazingly, they also produces tons of fruit.

Summerthyme
 

nomifyle

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Thanks ST, I have a little garden seat thingie on wheels, but its too tight to manuver between the beds. Most of the tomato plants are getting on to 7' tall, I don't know why they've grown so high. We have way too many plants in the space. The fence along all the edges of two raised beds makes it difficult also. I think he's going to move one fence soon, which might help. The fencing was to keep the goats out of the plants, sometimes one or more get out, although they have acres of fenced area and DH is now working on expanding that even more. But the grass always looks greener.

Our green beans did not produce much and they dried up. DH pulled them up and they are drying, although they were already half dried up.

Aints are eating up DH's strawberry plants. I think they may need to go in a raised bed next year. I'm seeing so many things that should be in raised beds next year if we want any amount of food from them. I just looked out the window and one of my sunflower plants just bloomed, The corn in most places are knee high. We've never planted corn here before, we'll see how that goes.

I am now coming to the conclusion that we need to use fertilizer, I've always been against it. DH put chicken manure on his strawberry plants, but he does not understand the concept of letting it compost. Although farmers around here do put raw chicken manure of fields of whatever they are growing, and boy does it stink.

Judy
 

summerthyme

Administrator
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Well, if your tomato plants are 7' tall, it doesn't sound like they're short of fertilizer!! Chicken manure is loaded with nitrogen... if you used that in the beds, that might explain why!

And really, as long as you till the manure into the soil, and don't plant immediately (at least a week), it's not necessary to compost it. Chicken manure is considered "hot" because of the nitrogen, but it also is one of the few manures to have a decent phosphorus content. It's great fertilizer, although it can burn plants or roots if you plant directly into it or use it fresh as a topdress.

I'd suggest getting at soil test at least once, so you know what your "baseline" is... fertilizer isn't cheap (especially in home garden quantities), and there's no sense in applying more than you need. Also, it's very possible to use too much, especially of nitrogen. We got away with hubby's exuberant over- application of manure because our soil is very "live"- we haven't used chemical fertilizers in decades, and I was shocked to find that despite that garden being 8" deep in manure, within 3 weeks, there wasn't an identifiable bit of manure or straw to be seen... it rotted and disappeared that quickly.

You can "sheet compost" manure simply by spreading it thinly on the garden surface (keeping it away from plant stems), and then tilling it in... saves a step or two.

You actually might want to consider snipping every other tomato plant off, if they truly are too crowded. It sounds crazy, but your overall yields may well be higher by doing so. Also, the risk of blight and other diseases is much less with a bit of airflow around and through the plants... if they're too lush and thick, it's not really even possible to spray fungicide effectively. (ask me how I know! We have major late blight issues here, even with using copper spray routinely)

I have ant problems in some of the raised beds. I mix some borax and sugar, and put it in cottage cheese (or yogurt) containers. I snip small holes in the side of the containers, just above the level of the layer of borax/sugar, then put the lid on. I place them in the soil so the holes are just about at soil level. The ants take the borax back to the nest, which ends up killing the whole thing. And borax is safe enough in the garden... but using those homemade "ant feeders", it doesn't really get into the soil.

It sounds like you're doing really well... we just planted our potatoes today, and I haven't even transplanted any of my plants yet- it got down to 36 degrees last night, (they were calling for 41) and it's supposed to get that low AGAIN next Sunday! It's JUNE, for crying out loud! I know, I know... blasted Grand Solar Minimum!! I sure hope our pattern that has become apparent in the past few years continues... we've been seeing our fall frosts come a month or even 6 weeks later than we used to expect them. As late as the cold weather is staying in the spring, we're going to need that extra time!

Summerthyme
 

packyderms_wife

Neither here nor there.
There's a raised bed gardening group on facebook and lots of newbie gardeners that are also finding out they needed way more space between their beds. Mine are four feet apart, more or less, enough space to get a lawnmower in and be able to turn around and my huge wheelbarrow. If you have the space then next year move one of the beds further away so you have more space to safely maneuver.
 

packyderms_wife

Neither here nor there.
I've found that if you want men to follow your ideas/instructions, you realky need to draw them a plan or blueprint... all carefully labeled and explained! It helps greatly with the, "gee, I thought you said 8 inches" argument, and gives them something concrete to refer to when they're in the middle of the project and can't quite remember what you said... most of them don't like to ask for directions or clarification during home projects anymore than they do when driving!
Most men don't know what eight inches is even with a ruler in hand... yes that was meant that way. :lol:

I agree on drawing out your plans with real numbers! OC was horrified when he built my first bed some 18 years ago, I wanted it to be 28" tall and 3 x 9 feet. At the time he thought I was nuts, now he sees why they're 28" tall, turns out at 65 he doesn't like getting on his hands and knees to pull weeds! I was planning for the future. I now have three 28" 3 x 9-foot beds, and two 33 x 32 x 28" raised beds for herbs and perennials, and three horse troughs, and nine huge clay flower pots.
 

nomifyle

Has No Life - Lives on TB
So I've worked out a plan for the concrete block raised bed. Its three or four blocks wide and 16' long, and three blocks high. I think that height will work out fine. Anyway it won't be cheap to do though. And I may have to wait til next summer to do the second bed. He will take away the fence down one side and there will be three feet between the wooden beds and the concrete beds and a couple of feet between that bed and the fence.

I'm trying to get him to understand that the plants that are doing badly in the ground in "his" garden/fruit orchard need to go in a raised bed. The aints are a big issue.

There really is not enough room to make the distance between beds 4', but as long as there is not fence next to the side of the bed I think I can manage. I want to get the space between beds as level as possible and put gravel down.

I'm also thinking of trying grow bags next year for potatoes, they don't seen to do well here in the ground. If we had to depend on our garden yield this year we'd starve. But I'm learning from my newbie mistakes.

Judy
 

ginnie6

Senior Member
We're doing some raised beds this year too. We started out with enough space between them but then dh went and added some smaller beds in between them....so it will have to be the weedeater going between them. The garden is slam packed and I'm still trying to figure out where to put a few more things. I can pick some small squash tomorrow.

And Nomifyle it sounds like you may have squash borers. They will kill a plant in a day. I've been diligently spraying with neem oil trying to stay ahead of them this year. If I don't by some odd chance get enough squash from this planting I'll wait till July and plant a few more when they're done laying eggs. But I really need that space for the purple hull peas!
 

Grouchy Granny

Veteran Member
My raised beds are 4' high by 4' long by 3' wide. Ideal for old backs and soooo easy to weed. We also have 3-4 feet of space between them to get wheel barrows, etc. through them. Haven't put anything down in the walkways yet, that will be for next year. Hoping to get my son to get the hoops done soon though.

We filled them with a mixture of compost and shredded tree mulch (thanks to the two local tree companies) and top off with compost as needed.

I'm trying to get the pictures off my Iphone, but it's not cooperating!
 

China Connection

TB Fanatic
I am putting in some raised beds currently. This time just medium height.

With deep beds the fertilizer washes out too quickly but with shallow beds with soil underneath the plant roots can get to it.
 

SouthernBreeze

Veteran Member
We have 3 4x40 raised beds for growing peas and beans. We have 2 4x10 beds and 1 4x8 bed, plus 2 large tractor tire rims made into beds for growing everything else. I added 2 large garden tubs to our deck this year, and planted a tomato and squash in each. It's an experiment to see how well they do in the tubs. I plan to add more next year if they do well. When we were laying out our beds, Cary put enough space between them to run the lawn mower. All our beds are planted, except for the 40 footers. That's because we didn't want to plant beans or peas this year. We're leaving them fallow. Every Fall we rake all the oak leaves from our yard, and spread them out over all the beds, then Cary turns them under with the tiller.

I just finished putting some Epsom Salt around everything this morning. Rain is expected today, so it was a good time to get that done.
 
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