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raised beds and potatos

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  • michael hollihn
    this is what i ve learned about raised beds: if there is sod in the way, i don t double dig until the second year...the first year i cover sod with cardboard
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 5, 2009
      this is what i've learned about raised beds:

      if there is sod in the way, i don't double dig until the second
      year...the first year i cover sod with cardboard and smother grass,
      then throw potatoes onto cardboard (make sure cardboard is not covered
      in inks/dyes/tapes) and cover with straw/grass
      clippings/leaves/compost/mulch (one or all will work)...keep
      moist....as potatoes grow through straw, keep covering with mulch of
      choice....by the end of the year you will have a potato harvest and
      the following spring a beautifully sod free bed to double dig and turn
      into raised beds.....

      i now turn my raised beds into huegel beds (sepp holzer) or swales
      (permaculture)....i'm still experimenting but this is the jist of it:
      dig a trench down one side of your soon to be raised bed (or right
      down the middle, unsure which method is better at this time)....dig as
      deep of a one shovel width trench as possible...fill trench with
      coarse organic material (i use old wood, prunings, dry mullein stems,
      dry jerusalem artichoke stalks, etc.).....once the trench is full, i
      then fill in all the cracks and air space with wood chips that i get
      from the local urban chippers that chip trees in the nearby village (i
      have a pile beside the garden with a soaker hose on it creating
      mycrorhizal bacteria) and/or with wood dust and shavings from my
      workshop, basically whatever coarse carbon material that can fill the
      voids....

      these trenches of coarse organic matter are two very valuable things
      to a raised bed...one they, over time, get wet and saturated with
      moisture, and during the drought times of summer, the roots of the
      plants in the raised bed will get valuable moisture from these
      trenches AND two they are storehouses of possibly the most valuable
      part of the soil chemistry known as mycrorhizal
      bacteria/fungus....google this bacteria and research is showing it to
      be the catalyst of all nutrient uptake...

      all the soil that was dug from the trench can now be put back over the
      coarse organic material to make the first swale/huegelbed...i then do
      the same thing 3' away from the first swale....this creates about a
      4'-6' wide row of two swales with a valley/hollow in between the
      two....i decided to plant potatoes in between these two swales and
      they are currently loving the microclimate i've created...as the
      spring and summer progress i will keep covering the potato growth with
      straw and i am curious to see how many pounds of potatoes this
      "trough" will produce...

      the peak and valley profile of these beds also creates microclimates
      that prevent the drying winds of late summer from evaporating moisture
      wholesale as it does on a flat garden profile...

      one 4' wide bed i did was a trench down the middle and i then built a
      basic bed overtop of the trench with two rows of a mixture of all my
      seeds.....the watering trough is in the middle of each row (about
      5"-6" above the coarse organic material)....the plants seems to be
      thriving

      --
      michael hollihn,
      british columbia,
      www.michaelhollihn.wordpress.com (bioregional timber frames)
      www.kettleriverfood.ning.com (building food security in the kettle
      River watershed)
      'Be the change that you want to see' ghandi
    • Alan Sloan
      You re probably aware of the traditional Irish Lazy Bed where the sod from each side of the new bed is turned inwards and onto a layer of manure. The
      Message 2 of 3 , Jun 8, 2009
        You're probably aware of the traditional Irish "Lazy Bed" where the sod
        from each side of the new bed is turned inwards and onto a layer of
        manure. The resulting dung sandwich worked well for me when starting
        up, or rather worked for my vegetables, and the vegetables worked for me.

        I can vouch for the cardboard mulch as well, when there is sufficient
        mulching material around. I found that a bed mulched in a wet UK July
        choked off even couch grass by October, I think it helped to get it
        while it was green. (Couch is a perennial grass with roots that regrow
        even from the smallest fragments - you probably have it in BC though has
        it the same name?).

        I've never used woody material in that way, but have a woody compost
        pile working at the moment, so may set up a trench in a year or two.

        Alan

        michael hollihn wrote:
        >
        >
        > this is what i've learned about raised beds:
        >
        > if there is sod in the way, i don't double dig until the second
        > year...the first year i cover sod with cardboard and smother grass,
        > then throw potatoes onto cardboard (make sure cardboard is not covered
        > in inks/dyes/tapes) and cover with straw/grass
        > clippings/leaves/compost/mulch (one or all will work)...keep
        > moist....as potatoes grow through straw, keep covering with mulch of
        > choice....by the end of the year you will have a potato harvest and
        > the following spring a beautifully sod free bed to double dig and turn
        > into raised beds.....
        >
        > i now turn my raised beds into huegel beds (sepp holzer) or swales
        > (permaculture)....i'm still experimenting but this is the jist of it:
        > dig a trench down one side of your soon to be raised bed (or right
        > down the middle, unsure which method is better at this time)....dig as
        > deep of a one shovel width trench as possible...fill trench with
        > coarse organic material (i use old wood, prunings, dry mullein stems,
        > dry jerusalem artichoke stalks, etc.).....once the trench is full, i
        > then fill in all the cracks and air space with wood chips that i get
        > from the local urban chippers that chip trees in the nearby village (i
        > have a pile beside the garden with a soaker hose on it creating
        > mycrorhizal bacteria) and/or with wood dust and shavings from my
        > workshop, basically whatever coarse carbon material that can fill the
        > voids....
        >
        > these trenches of coarse organic matter are two very valuable things
        > to a raised bed...one they, over time, get wet and saturated with
        > moisture, and during the drought times of summer, the roots of the
        > plants in the raised bed will get valuable moisture from these
        > trenches AND two they are storehouses of possibly the most valuable
        > part of the soil chemistry known as mycrorhizal
        > bacteria/fungus....google this bacteria and research is showing it to
        > be the catalyst of all nutrient uptake...
        >
        > all the soil that was dug from the trench can now be put back over the
        > coarse organic material to make the first swale/huegelbed...i then do
        > the same thing 3' away from the first swale....this creates about a
        > 4'-6' wide row of two swales with a valley/hollow in between the
        > two....i decided to plant potatoes in between these two swales and
        > they are currently loving the microclimate i've created...as the
        > spring and summer progress i will keep covering the potato growth with
        > straw and i am curious to see how many pounds of potatoes this
        > "trough" will produce...
        >
        > the peak and valley profile of these beds also creates microclimates
        > that prevent the drying winds of late summer from evaporating moisture
        > wholesale as it does on a flat garden profile...
        >
        > one 4' wide bed i did was a trench down the middle and i then built a
        > basic bed overtop of the trench with two rows of a mixture of all my
        > seeds.....the watering trough is in the middle of each row (about
        > 5"-6" above the coarse organic material)....the plants seems to be
        > thriving
        >
        > --
        > michael hollihn,
        > british columbia,
        > www.michaelhollihn.wordpress.com (bioregional timber frames)
        > www.kettleriverfood.ning.com (building food security in the kettle
        > River watershed)
        > 'Be the change that you want to see' ghandi
        >
        >
      • michael hollihn
        yes, couch grass is probably the most aggressive plant here, with jerusalem artichoke and lambsquarters a distant 2 and 3....there are medicinal uses for couch
        Message 3 of 3 , Jun 9, 2009
          yes, couch grass is probably the most aggressive plant here, with
          jerusalem artichoke and lambsquarters a distant 2 and 3....there are
          medicinal uses for couch grass and thankfully the cardboard wins every
          time....

          --
          michael hollihn,
          british columbia,
          www.michaelhollihn.wordpress.com (bioregional timber frames)
          www.kettleriverfood.ning.com (building food security in the kettle
          River watershed)
          'Be the change that you want to see' ghandi
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