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14453Re: [AZ] Raised bed of pea gravel and mushroom compost

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  • Mike Creel
    May 1, 2010
      I am a big vegetable and fruit grower too, and the sand here is perfect for that - rabbiteye bluberries, thornless blackberries trellised, two 50-foot vertical arbors of muscadine grapes (6 vines) and volunteer strawberries that are a hybrid of tame and wild.
      Your large bed does sound good for vegetables, but a little sweet (higher pH) for most native azaleas.  R. eastmanii, which can handle up to 6.8 pH, perhaps higher, would have no problem with the garden soil.
      The goal of my bed is to grow grow small rooted cuttings to a transplantable size and then be able to move them easier from loose pebbly media that has no competing roots from the natural soil.  Also several azaleas and rhododendrons near the bed are getting the benefits of water and nutrients from the raised gravel bed.  The bed seems to function additionally as a water trap (but not saturated) that slowly releases its water to the surrounding natural soil.  It might be wise to put such raised beds among plants in droughty soil, which my soil is.
      Mike Creel, SC USDA Zone 8a

      From: "michael.campbell3@..." <michael.campbell3@...>
      To: azaleas@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Sat, May 1, 2010 6:41:50 AM
      Subject: Re: [AZ] Raised bed of pea gravel and mushroom compost


      I just put in about 1000 sf of raised bed with mushroom compost as the primary ingredient with about 20% pulverized black dirt, 5" layer of peat moss, about 150 pounds of fireplace ash and tilled it all up.  I'm going to till in a few truckloads of lawn clippings and leaves then plant watermelons and asparagus beans.  I was hoping after this year the beds will "cool off" enough to plant azaleas in prepared holes (with perlite, bark and peat).
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Mike Creel" <mikeacreel@yahoo. com>
      To: "ASA Azaleaphiles" <azaleas@yahoogroups .com>
      Sent: Friday, April 30, 2010 9:31:09 PM GMT -06:00 US/Canada Central
      Subject: [AZ] Raised bed of pea gravel and mushroom compost [1 Attachment]

      [Attachment(s) from Mike Creel included below]

      Here is the raised bed I built and am using to grow out azalea and rhododendron cuttings (previously rooted) and seedlings, as well as some choice clump forming perennials.  The bed is about 3 by 3 feet with the bottom lined by a sheet of brown weed fabric. The media is a mix of 3 parts mushroom compost with one part pea gravel (little rocks of various colors) from Home Depot.  I sprinkled some old pine bark compost on the surface. 
      Though I still have some empty space, I currently have planted in the bed a pink Stokes Aster I discovered, a rooted cutting of a white Rhododendron schlippinbachii, a rooted cutting of Georgia Giant azalea, a rooted cutting of a dark Austrinum, a rooted cutting of  Perle de Swynaerde azalea, a seedling of an azalea Bill Dale found, and two early arborescens cuttings.
      The bed has been planting over a week now and all plants look good, better than they did in pots.  I may make more of these beds to grow out cuttings now in pots.  The beds require less watering than pots.  Plants grown in a bed like this will be much easier to remove and put into permanent plantings in the landscape.  I call the bed a Dalton Bed because my friend Terry Dalton uses beds very similar to this to grow out plugs of grasses and sedges.
      The bagged compost I used is Lawn and Garden Mushroom compost from Simms Bark in Tuscumbia, Ala., sold by Lowes in South Carolina. It does not burn.  I have grown vegetables like tomatoes in the pure compost.  Some people have grown tomato plants in the bag after slitting the top and making drain holes in the bottom.
      Mike Creel, SC USDA Zone 8a
      Nature is my Greenhouse
      Fall-Line Sandhills region
      Lexington County, South Carolina

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