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Learn about CORE gardening

 
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Core gardening sounds to me like a great idea and like everyone should be using the method, but I have never tried it. Please share with any advice or personal experiences.... this is my scenario

Structure: Small raised bed 4ft by 4ft by 12in

Soil: mels mix from square foot gardening. 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 multiple varieties of compost

Plan to grow: sweet corn. Pole beans on the perimeter and use the corn stalks as trellis.

Core plan: dig 1ft deep trench in center of the bed along the entire length and fill with 4 or 5 inches of fresh straw and cover with soil mix. The idea is that the straw will absorb water like a sponge and distribute to plants up to 2 ft across on each side of the trench.

Concerns- is this for certain pants only? When do I know to water? Will this rot my roots? Is it necessary? Etc...  I am in zone 6a

Any advice/feedback is very much appreciated

Peace
 
Posts: 69
Location: Montana
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Joshua, I haven't tried core gardening, but I don't see any reason it would rot roots. I also don't see any reason some plants would be less satisfactory for the approach, as long as you have decent soil. Mels mix works, but I personally like the compost part of it and don't love the other parts. Plants are happy in it though. If you're new to gardening, then ignore everything I say and just get started with it. Plants want to grow, and are remarkably forgiving as long as they have decent soil. Nothing substitutes for experience, so jump right in, try things, kill a few plants, eat a few more. It's all learning.

If you're still reading, here's a few other things your question brings to mind...
If the reason you're trying this is concern about plants drying out, there are at least three other things I'd consider as options alongside this... ordered from least to most preferable to me:
  • Drip irrigation. A simple timer and a few parts let you put water when and where you want it. I'd rather not fund the plastic producers, but I have used drip irrigation before, especially when establishing plants during the heat of summer when I'll be away too often to care for them well.
  • Straw bale gardening. If you have straw to put in that trench anyway, why not consider straw bale gardening and save the effort of making the bed and mixing the soil?
  • Hugelkultur. The core idea seems to me to operate with the same intent as hugelkultur, just a bit more urbanized.


  • If you're not familiar with straw bale gardens, check here: https://strawbalegardens.com/. His TED talk linked from that page is 15 minutes well spent. If you try straw bale gardening, please do know that you can use any nitrogen source to condition the bales. There's no reason you must use a chemical fertilizer for that purpose.

    If you're not familiar with hugelkultur, a search on this site will find you tons of info.

    None of this is intended to talk you out of core gardening, simply related ideas you may find helpful.
    If you try it, let us know how it goes.
     
    Ashley Reyson
    Posts: 69
    Location: Montana
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    Oh, and mulch!
    If your concern is plants/soil drying out, then mulch, mulch, mulch, mulch.
    Mulch is magic.
     
    Joshua Pittiglio
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    Ashley,

    Thanks for taking the time to share. I watched the video on strawbale gardening and man that’s fascinating!! It has me wanting to try it out and also has me thinking of the custom bales I could make.

    hugelkultur is also new to me and is another awesome method I plan to read more about here and try out in the future.

    I don’t have a ton of straw on hand and since I already have my supplies to make my raised bed I am going to stick with trying out the core gardening method this season and see how it goes.

    Thanks again  

    Peace

     
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