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Agricultural College Student - Recently given full control over 11 raised Garden beds. Need advice!

 
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Location: Central Valley, California, United States
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Hello everyone,

I've know about this site for quite a while and finally decided to join! However, I come in with some questions and advice. Recently, I have been essentially given full control of 11 garden beds, 8 feet x 4 feet. Each of these beds already have a drip irrigation system/pipe system of some sorts but, it appears that big tanks were utilized as a means of sourcing water in the past. Along with this, there is a shade canopy that appears to have seen better days. The people I am working with have told me that it has been 3 or 4 years since these gardens were ever used and that I can tackle them however I like. All they told me was what vegetables they want to be grown. Because of this, I have aquired these seeds:

- Tomatoes, Summer Squash, Corn, Bush beans, green peas, Watermelon, Canteloupe, various herbs such as Cilantro, mint, dill, etc, pumpkin, and a variety of pepper seeds: Jalapeno, Anaheim, and Poblano among several others are the seeds that I have and intend on planting.

Currently, I am attempting to get around ~39 Cubic Yards of Compost to be delievered there for the beds, for free, which I intend on incoprorating into the soil. I have weeded several of the beds by hand and from here, nothing else has occured and I am thinking of ways to tackle this. I think more than anything, this is the first time I have been given full control and responsibility over a project this size and am thinking to myself "ahh!"

So my questions are the following: What would you guys think is the best way to tackle such a project? I am currently planning which plants to group with one another in each of the beds and intend on figuring out how to best water these plants. Regarding the lack of a water source, I am interested in experimenting with Ollas, however, these beds must only be a 2-3 feet deep in soil depth before hitting a wire mesh and cardboard on the bottom, so I am unsure what might be best for this besides a traditional watering can that I can refill from inside their property. I am intending on using a mulch as well, most likely a hay or woodchips.

I have below attached some pictures. I feel ashamed not knowing what to best do, especially as an agricultural student, but I feel like I am lacking time to fully do research due to my other commitments.

I wish you all the best!



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A bunch of raised garden beds between two buildings
gardenbedcloseup.jpg
[Thumbnail for gardenbedcloseup.jpg]
gardenbed2.jpg
[Thumbnail for gardenbed2.jpg]
 
master pollinator
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Oh, wow! What an opportunity!

Welcome to Permies, Volya Audun!

Can you give us a rough idea of the location and grow zone? And your sense of the sun exposure for these beds? Too little, too much?

 
Volya Audun
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Location: Central Valley, California, United States
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Douglas Alpenstock wrote:Oh, wow! What an opportunity!

Welcome to Permies, Volya Audun!

Can you give us a rough idea of the location and grow zone? And your sense of the sun exposure for these beds? Too little, too much?



Yes! San Joaquin Valley, California, near Modesto, in grow zone 9b (USDA Plant Hardiness Scale). I would say at the moment they are receving a right amount of sun, especially with the sun still setting earlier in the evenings. However, with the way this Spring & upcomming Summer is shaping up to, more likely too much sun for the main growing season.

Thank you!
 
gardener
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Hi Volya, welcome to Permies.
Nice project! So you start from seeds?
To play safe, i'd start the seeds indoors, because then you have less snails or rolliepollies to immediately devour your seedlings.
If you can't or are not allowed by the rules of the school.. Then that's challenging. Best to check locally how others small scale growers do that. Because they'll know about the local problems you face... Some things are global, but others impossible for me to know..I'm in France, you could have voles or nasty little bugs i don't even know exist, but locals will know the hic-ups.
Cause your place where you growing is lacking a diverse eco system to balance the insects/diseases etc you'll have to get a good feel for what healthy plants look like and that's not as good as you'd think.
They'll probably grow like crazy if you add all that compost and overwater them, if you get past the first phase. Normally that attracts bugs, aphids loovvvve these superfast growing plants.
Of what consists the compost you're adding? Is it manure or plant waste the city provides. Is it fresh or a bit older?
Are you planning on really digging it in or just spreading it on top?
Do you have good hand tools?
Are you fit?
Do you love getting up at 5 in the morning and be at school at 6 to work when it's not hot.. Can you have acces?
Stop laughing, ;)

I have a project with a polytunnel. I individually water with a wateringcan, i train plants to look for water deeper in the soil, or force them to make connections with the soil food web. Safe the seeds from them that can and use that or seeds i got from trades.
But i have diversity in my seeds, did you get that a bit?
If you force plants to grow less hard at start, they'll have to look a bit further and might find other stuff than N P and K, they need all sorts of minerals to grow robustly and not too fast. But that's quite difficult and means checking, checking ,checking in your superhot climate.

I'd first toughen them up a bit and then grow them faster, maybe use some of that compost later, mix it in buckets and put it at the plants that really need it.

ANyway and however, you'll make tons of mistakes and that's when you learn really.
Great oppertunity!

 
Mother Tree
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Total area of beds is 11 x 8 ft x 4 ft = 352 sq ft.

39 cubic yards is 39 x 3 x 3 x 3 =1053 cubic ft.

Which means you'll have enough compost to build those beds up by 3 ft!  

I suspect you ordered too much.

Which is an awesome problem to have, but it's not going to fit.

Your climate and set-up is actually rather similar to mine and I'll try to respond again later when I come back in after a few chores...
 
gardener
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What a fun opportunity! I would over plant and plant it now. Get your soil covered with plants so that the sun won't bake it dead when the summer comes. Tall plants can provide shade for the for sensitive plants. I know you already got seeds but if you make sure to plant seeds that are drought tolerant, then maybe you won't have to worry about water as much.

Did you consider growing okra? How about artichokes?
 
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