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Friday, June 10, 2011

The Great Raised Bed Experiment of 2011

Yes indeed, finally another long overdue post.  Seems like whenever I have the great intention of keeping this blog up-to-date, I get side-railled and end up putting this on the back burner.

Being out of state for 11 weeks over the winter of 2010/2011 really put me behind schedule on essential tasks and projects around the farm. 

With the arrival of spring, I had to scramle to prepare things for this year's crop.  This included building 12 raised garden beds for our veggies.

The beds are constructed 100 percent of reclaimed solid oak planks.  The solid oak planks were salvaged from specialty pallets that were destined for the landfill.  These specialty pallets are made of 4"X4"skids and (2) 11/2"X6"X3' planks.  The pallets are extremely simple to break down and remove the nails.

The beds measured 3'X 6' and are 11 inches deep.

To fill the boxes I needed 18 square feet of composted soil for each of the 12 beds or 24 cubic yards of soil.

I visited a local dairy farm and scored a 6.5' X12' trailer full of pure cow manure.  The manure was hot when I picked it up, so I had to work it well and cool it down before putting it in the beds.

I lined the bottom of each box with newspaper then added a layer of about 2" of sawdust to each box.  Next, I added another six inches of cooled manure mixed with old compost to each box and watered it in real good.  After letting this settle for about a week, I topped off the boxes with another layer of compost mix and let this settle for another week.  I finally added two inches of premium potting soil and blended this with about 2 inches of the settled compost.

I built trellises from reclaimed wood to support the cucumbers and lima beans.  We plan to expand our raised beds by an additional 12 beds for next year's garden.

I have included the following links to assist in your personal research about raised bed gardening.  I can also recommend the following books to start or add to your gardening collection.

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