Posts Tagged ‘raised beds’

…and the bees love it too.

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Want to grow spinach? We have been wildly unsuccessful in growing it, but guess what…steamed turnip greens taste just like spinach. It turns out they are very easy to grow and are good for you too. This was supposed to be a mixture of several cover crop seeds, Fava beans, Winter Rye, and Hairy Vetch included. It looks like the turnips took over. Uh, I might have broadcast them a little thick. My “solar-roller water pump panel” is positioned for the afternoon sun. Gotta keep the flow going. ūüôā

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Turnip flowers in January provide nourishment for bees in the critical winter months.

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October 8…This bed was planted August 1. Turnips grow fast. Plant them thick, then you can harvest the thinnings by steaming the greens.¬† Leave a few to go to flowers in winter.

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We’ve been getting three crops a year in our raised beds. This was lettuce last winter, then kale, now turnips. In between we bury crab shell when we can get it. This being October, that resource will soon be gone.

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Oct. 10…My sweetheart made a delicious turnip soup for dinner this evening. These turnips were planted in early August. They grow fast!!!

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Oct. 8…just in case we haven’t planted enough turnips, here is another bed started…complete with drip water grid.

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Oct. 15…Turnips are up already. The shade cloth is to protect the little darlings from the hurricane force winds and 12-18 inches (300-450mm) of rain that was forecast…didn’t happen, at least, not yet.

Turnip soup recipe

Chop an onion, saute in olive oil, add 4 to 5 cups of peeled chopped turnips, two garlic cloves (peeled and cut in half), add two teaspoons of smoked paprika, and teaspoon of thyme  leaves.  Cook until lightly brown, add three cups of vegetable or chicken broth, salt to taste.  Bring to boil and simmer until veggies are cooked.  Blend in blender, return to pan, add a cup of milk, or milk alternative.

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July 10, 2013...Spring veggies harvested, soil spaded and leveled, drip watering in place, this bed is ready to plant our winter garden.

July 7, 2013…Spring veggies harvested, soil spaded and leveled, drip watering in place, this bed is ready to plant our winter garden.

When we planted  turnips, lettuce and kale in July for our winter garden little did we know we were planting for the bees as well as ourselves.

July 28, 2013...turnips are growing nicely in the center, lettuce and kale are on the sides.

July 28, 2013…turnips are growing nicely in the center, lettuce and kale are on the sides. Deer netting over pvc hoops.

January 16, 2014...We had eaten most of the turnips and just left a few to go to seed.  We never thought the bees would be enjoying them in mid January.  What a welcome surprise.

January 16, 2014…We had eaten most of the turnips and just left a few to go to seed. We never thought the bees would be enjoying them in mid January. What a welcome surprise.

February 9, 2014...My apologies for posting such a fuzzy picture of a bee on the catkins,but it was rather high up.  I wanted to show where the pollen was coming from that is going into my log hive.

February 9, 2014…My apologies for posting such a fuzzy picture of a bee on the catkins,but it was rather high up. I wanted to show where the pollen was coming from that is going into my log hive.

February 9, 2014...Many colors of pollen entering the hive.  In the video you can see the bright yellow from the turnip flowers.  It's possible this is from the pussy willows that are just starting to blossom

February 9, 2014…Many colors of pollen can be seen entering the hive. In the video you can see the bright yellow pollen from turnip flowers. It’s possible this shot is from the pussy willows that are just starting to blossom.¬† The darker orange might be from early gorse.

February 10, 2014...Yellow turnip flowers have been flowering since mid January.  Pussy willows are starting to blossom already.

February 10, 2014…Yellow turnip flowers have been flowering since mid January. Pussy willows are starting to blossom already.¬† Second bed is producing greens for our salads.¬† We can eat them 15 minutes after they are picked…can’t get much fresher than that.¬† We cover them with plastic film (partially visible on far side) on nights of sub freezing temps.

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Myy new raised bed made from scrap siding.

My new raised bed made from scrap siding.

After watching a video about extended season gardening about 15 years ago,¬† my wife and I decided to try it out.¬† We had to make a few adjustments to keep the tents from blowing down in the wind.¬† By strapping 1.25″ pvc to the inside of the wood we can adjust the height of the hoops…one year we’ll have short hoops for greens, the next year we’ll have tall hoops for tomatoes.

Those raised beds served us well, but are starting to rot.¬† When we replaced some partially rotten wood siding on the house, I decided to use it as a replacement raised bed.¬† I sawed out the rotten areas and just cobbled these together to get a 4′ x 16′ x 14″ tall bed.¬† (1.22 m x 4.87 m x 35 cm)¬† I painted this time with some left over house paint, hoping it will protect the wood for another 15 years.

I added two drip watering grids by using 8′ (2,44 m) pieces of pvc.¬† The joints do not have to be glued because with all the holes drilled in them, they won’t leak.¬†¬† I drilled the holes about 6″ apart (15 cm) on each side and then plant where the water comes through.

Companion planting  (Look at the comfrey site too)

We’ve had trouble with growing carrots in the past.¬† Sometimes they fail to germinate.¬† If we get them to grow early in the season, the slugs get them.¬† So we wait until July or August, but then we get a carrot maggot, those little worms that tunnel into the carrots.¬† So in an effort to grow great carrots AND avoid the tunneling worms we found leeks to be a good companion plant to carrots.¬† They repel the carrot fly.

Drip water grid.  By not gluing the joints, I can use the same hose to grid connection, by slipping it off one grid, and onto the other.

Drip water grid. By not gluing the joints, I can use the same garden hose to water grid connection, by slipping it off one grid, and onto the other.¬† Also I can ‘mix and match’ the pvc to fit longer or shorter beds the following years.

Carrots and leeks growing well

Carrots and leeks growing well

3/4 inch pvc hoop slips easily into socket (Looks like I didn't paint it very well)

3/4 inch pvc hoop slips easily into socket (Looks like I didn’t paint it very well)

Deer love carrot tops, so to avoid building a 10' (3 m) fence all around the garden, we opt to net everything.  I've tried twine, wire, and now fishing line

Deer love carrot tops, so to avoid a high fence all around the garden, we opt to net everything. I’ve tried twine, wire, and now fishing line to tie the netting to some pvc.¬† It’s a very tedious job, but once it’s done, little effort is needed to flip the netting off.¬† Just remember to flip it back or the deer will enjoy.

By placing the plastic, I can decide to protect against the raging storms, or to let a gentle rain soak the soil

By placing the plastic, I can decide to protect against the raging storms, or to let a gentle rain soak the soil.  In winter, I keep the plastic on to protect them in frost or the occasional snow.

Healthy carrots and leeks

The reward are healthy carrots free of little black worms and leeks for the winter dishes.

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It’s a quick job to shred the leaves with the mower.

We always follow tomatoes with garlic. ¬†One of the few winter crops, it grows from Halloween to the July 4th harvest.¬†¬† After¬† the tomato vines have been pulled out, we add our soil enhancers…

Shredded leaves ready to be added to  coffee grounds and crab shell as soil enhancers

Shredded leaves ready to be added to coffee grounds and crab shell.

I get as much crab shell as I want from Tony's Crab Shack in town.  It's only about 4 miles (6.4 km) round trip by bicycle, my transportation of choice.

I get as much crab shell as I want from Tony’s Crab Shack in town. It’s only about 4 miles (6.4 km) round trip by bicycle, my transportation of choice.

All these things are trench composted into the soil along with kitchen garbage and the odd sunflower stem or comfrey leaves.

Smooth the soil level and hook the hose to water grid.

Smooth the soil level and hook the hose to water grid.

Break apart the garlic bulb into individual cloves...

Break apart the garlic bulb into individual cloves…

Push garlic clove into soil to just below soil surface, "hair" end down.

Push garlic clove into soil about 3 inches deep, “hair” end down.¬† This one should be pushed down a little more, but we were just posing it and wanted a ‘handle’ to pull it back out.

Garlic planted almost a month ago is just starting to show.

Garlic planted almost a month ago is just starting to show.

What is garlic good for?  GOOD HEALTH and BEE STINGS!

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Our nights get down to a chilly 47 degrees F (8 deg. C.) so without extra care it would be impossible to grow things like peppers and eggplants.

Water grid in place, hook up hose and place transplants where the water drips out.

Add hoops, deer netting and the plastic film weighted with 1×2’s nailed to¬† 2×2’s.

This is what it looks like now (after 3 1/2 months) with some calendulas that my wife won’t let me take out and a volunteer Swiss Chard.

The green peppers are small because the nights are so cool, but at least we get some.

Japanese eggplant (the only one that will ripen here because it’s smaller) is finally ready to be picked.

Tomatoes are coming on strong…ready for sandwiches or to be roasted.

Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, string beans, carrots, beets, basil, (and other herbs like oregano and thyme), onions and garlic slathered with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.  Roast it at 425 deg. F for about 25 minutes or until the tomatoes start to brown.

After this cools, we throw it in the blender, then it goes into the quart size freezer bags so it will stack up well.  It can be used over rice or potatoes, or as a spaghetti or pizza sauce.

Check out planting tomatoes in a cool rainy climate.

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Burying the very available crab shell and coffee grounds to spice up the soil is the first thing.¬† Warre hive is on the left and Bee Beard carved log hive on the right.¬† I’m in good company.

Potatoes…should we harvest now or leave them in to grow more?¬† If I leave them in, the voles might eat them…I better take them out.¬† Then I can plant buckwheat in both beds.

Red Pontiacs – Three at once

A mole tunnel…the moles dig the tunnels, the voles follow the tunnels to the potatoes. More than a few potatoes had been chewed on, so it was good idea to get them out of the ground.

Some of the potatoes harvested from this first potato bed. We could have left them in to grow more, but the voles would have taken a big bite out of our harvest. This way we can grow buckwheat in both beds for the bees in September.

We’ve been fairly successful in the “no tilling” method for a few years.¬† We think it’s important to use less manufactured energy and more physical energy.¬† Is spading¬† ‘as good as’ using a¬† tiller?¬† Probably not, but it’s important to be able to grow food¬†without¬†using fossil fuel for the possible time when we don’t have any.

We have dug in crab shell, kitchen scraps (no meat), comfrey leaves, and coffee grounds to enhance the soil. Now we’re planting the buckwheat seed.

The drip irrigation grid and the deer netting are in place.

Why do we need deer netting? Because of her…and all her offspring!

According to this article by the Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute “…buckwheat crop seems to improve soil tilth, and is reported to make phosphorous more available as a soil nutrient, possible through root-associated mycorrhizae. Buckwheat flowers profusely, making it popular with bee keepers and an attractive crop in the landscape.”

Sept. 9, 2012...about 5 weeks after planting, buckwheat is looking good.  Bees are on the blossoms already.

Sept. 9, 2012…about 5 weeks after planting, buckwheat is looking good. Bees have been working the blossoms for a couple of weeks already.

Sept. 9, 2012...Honeybees attending to the buckwheat blossoms.

Sept. 9, 2012…Honeybees attending to the buckwheat blossoms under the deer netting.

A fly mimicing a bee on the buckwheat blossom.

A fly mimicking a bee on the buckwheat blossom.

My wife saved me the ultimate embarrassment of thinking I found some kind of new bee. “Honey, that’s a FLY!”¬† “Ulp.”

Another fly, this time with a red abdomen.  My wife saved me the embarrassment of thinking I found some kind of new bee.  "Honey, that's a FLY!"

Another fly, this time with a red abdomen.

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The tomato bed has weathered through the cold wind and rain. They’re looking good so I added the cages.

Tomatoes prove their worth and get supports
Likewise the Red Pontiacs are looking good

Potato bed gets hilled up.  These were planted April 9th and harvested August 1 to make way for buckwheat.

Greens Grow the Garden

Our supply of salad greens. Pick it, eat it 15 minutes later for lunch. I wonder what’s cooking in the Solar Oven

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