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His and her sides of the bed (raised bed, that is)  RSS feed

 
Karen Donnachaidh
pollinator
Posts: 572
Location: Palmyra, Virginia
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My H and I have just added a new buried wood raised bed. We dug down about 18 inches, filled the bottom with rotten wood and sifted the dirt through 1/4" hardware cloth. The dirt was put back on top and smoothed over. There was still some dirt left over, so we put it on top of an older buried wood bed next to the new one.

The older bed with new dirt (and do notice that I say dirt, not soil) had performed quite well before the addition of this dirt. We planted spinach seeds in the bed recently. On the same day we planted spinach in a few other areas around the yard. The birds pulled up quite a bit of the newly emerging plants from this bed. The plants that remained were small, weak and far behind those in the other spots.

My theory of what went wrong is that we sifted out and discarded the organic materials, rocks, worms, bugs, etc. and all we had left was dead dirt. The top was also too smooth and allowed water to run off, instead of soaking in. There also isn't anything in the dirt to hold on to the water if it did get through the top crust.

The H's theory is that the birds only took the best and strongest seedlings. He also thinks that the recent cold snap we had killed or stunted them.

Today I will propose a challenge. I need to thin some of the spinach I planted in my back-to-back garden. We can divide the buried wood bed into 4 sections. We each get a quarter bed with transplanted spinach and a quarter bed with newly seeded spinach. I'll amend my sections and his will remain dirt.

If he accepts my challenge I'll post the progress (or in his case, the lack of 😸) in this thread.

I may be totally wrong. I've managed to kill lots of plants in my best efforts. The bed has jewel weed popping up everywhere, so it can support plant life. We'll see.

The newest bed now is planted with onions and some cabbage will also go there when they're ready to transplant. But this bed isn't the challenge bed. It's the old bed covered with new dirt. It has okay soil down under the dirt layer. I think if roots can make it to the lower layers they'll live.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

 
James Freyr
Posts: 149
Location: Middle Tennessee
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Hi Karen, I would really enjoy being able to help you in this challenge. Your theory of sifting out organic matter and worms & bugs is absolutely correct, but it's only a part of the problem. Something that happened when you and H dug 18 inches deep and screened the soil is that most of the microbial life that was present got evicted from their preferred horizon (home or layer of soil) and relocated. Aerobic (oxygen loving) microbial life residing in, let's say the top 6 inches of soil, a lot got dumped down too deep where oxygen will not readily move that deep, and anaerobic (oxygen hating) microbes from way down deep were brought up close to the surface where there is oxygen. Both types of microbes are now going to either die or maybe go into a state of suspended animation (a good portion will perish). Those chunks that were sifted out helped not only with water draining, but also water retention and providing organic matter and food to the microbes. I see you noticed that a crust has developed, and water runs off the surface. Not only does this crust partially inhibit water infiltration, it also inhibits oxygen to move into the soil and other gasses created by microbes to leave the soil. The crust formed because raindrops and irrigation has a sorting effect on the particles, with heavier ones sinking and the light silt particles congregating on the surface, then kinda bonding together when it dries. The solution to the crust is mulch, wether it's wood chips or straw or even small stones. They all serve the same purpose of slowing the impact of water so it gently soaks into the soil and helps keep the surface of the soil from drying out. I believe you have good instinct and if you do what you think is right or what feels right with the soil in your portion of the raised bed, you will be successful. Not only that, I believe you can convert H's gardening philosophy with leading by example. Let me know if you have more questions, I'm here to help.
 
Maureen Atsali
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Location: Western Kenya
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I am so curious! Did your husband take up the challenge?

I have these kind of run-ins with my husband, the non-farmer on a pretty regular basis.  He doesn't understand a lot of my permiculture methods, and he isn't interested in learning.  I usually just let him do it his way, and then go back and fix it later when he has lost interest.    its easier for me I think, because my husbands interest is always sporadic and short lived.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
pollinator
Posts: 572
Location: Palmyra, Virginia
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books dog fish food preservation forest garden hugelkultur
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Thanks for those posts. Maureen, your man sounds like mine. I'm glad to have someone who understands where I am on this.

I've had a crazy past couple of days. We spent two days working on another property we have that is for wildlife management (now in it's 18th year and doing well). And, we had two days centered around a death (visitation/funeral, you know how that is.) But....

You're on the right track there, James. Those are just the things I meant when mentioning " my soil sermons" in the What we need to know about Soil thread. Although, I didn't detail it as much as I could have. I've been preaching up a storm, including all of those points you have mentioned and more. I just seem to always hit a wall. I think some men just want to be seen as "knowledgeable" and a "provider for his family". Sorry...my perspective. I'm sure they mean no harm, but I have gardened for over 40 years now. I have learned a lot from this site  and several others, from Prof. Will Hooker's Introduction to Permaculture course, from reading Sepp Holzer, Toby Hemenway, Ruth Stout.... I am small and quiet, but I'm strong and intelligent. Some men just feel the need to be "The Man". I feel that ruth stout was only truely successful when she decided to do as she pleased. I  really identify with her style of doing things (although, I am mostly clothed  ) in spite of the people who told her she was doing it "wrong". Silly woman!


It's just that I want to do things my way, which isn't his way. And, I have to do it when he's not around or else I'll be hearing why I shouldn't do it "that way". I have given him to read all of the books I've read. If their beautiful works can't sway him, should I expect to? I don't know.

I do differ in my thinking on digging out a bed, James. I'm sure in the creating of a buried wood raised bed the soil, inevitably, will have it's layers jumbled. I've copied a section of Paul Wheaton's Hugelkultur article (notice that he says that he digs down a foot or two):

"For those times that the soil is deep and you are moving the soil by hand, I like to dig up the sod and dig down a foot or two. Then pile in the wood. Then put the sod on top of the wood, upside-down. Then pile the topsoil on top of that. Even better is to figure out where the paths will be, and dig down there too. Add two layers of sod onto the logs and then the double topsoil.

I have discovered that a lot of people are uncomfortable with the idea of raised bed gardens. They have seen the large flat gardens for years and are sure this is the way to do it. Some people are okay with raised beds that are three to six inches tall - they consider anything taller than that unsightly.

So this is gonna sound crazy, but I hope to convince you that the crazy-sounding stuff is worth it."



I, personally, do think any new buried wood bed must be microbally replenished. There are many different ways to repopulate the microbes,  some ways faster than others. I have means to do that. I have an arsenal of tricks that I use in gardening for all sorts of different benefits: EM-1, BIM, FPT, spoiled hay, well composted wood chips, 20:1 diluted urine, aspirin water soaked seeds/foliar spray...

I think now instead of wasting more spinach and time on an experiment I'm sure he's not going to participate in, I just need to quit listening to "No" and do it my way. Won't ask permission. Won't mention my intent. Just do it...my way. Thanks Ruth!
 
Liz Hoxie
Posts: 174
Location: Ellisforde, WA
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Karen, do yourself a favor and stop preaching. I'm in practically the same situation. Believe me, you don't need the stress. You have come up against that wonderful thing called the Male Ego. Most men that I've met don't like to admit that they're wrong to ANYBODY.
I had to bite my tongue for years, still do, but not as often. Now that I'm learning about Permaculture, it's challenging the way he's always seen things done, but I'm using his knowledge and skills to help me understand some of the technical stuff.
It sounds like your husband is good at meticulous and detailed things. USE IT! Ask him for advice/help in the areas that you know he's good at. STROKE THAT EGO, GIRL! Plant the seeds of ideas in his mind and let him think he came up with the idea.
Life will go a lot smoother and relaxed plus you'll probably get more accomplished.
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
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Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
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Plant the seeds of ideas in his mind and let him think he came up with the idea. 


Hahaha.  I see other people have come up with my solution to a happy marriage...
 
James Freyr
Posts: 149
Location: Middle Tennessee
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Karen you're absolutely right that a lot of men want to be seen as knowledgable and a provider for this family, and those are admirable traits and are well intended and they do mean no harm, but what I think is even more admirable is when a man (or woman) admits they're wrong or made a mistake. I'll admit sometimes that's difficult to do, but I have found often admitting being wrong is healthy (and I've been wrong a lot so far in my life). About digging deep and turning soil, I hope I didn't imply that the soil is now damaged, because it's not and it's only temporary. The soil will heal itself, and we can even give it a little boost in the right direction to speed the healing. I believe in no-till gardening practices, and I also believe if presented a blank slate for a new garden that's sick soil, tilling organic matter (and maybe amendments if warranted) into the soil at the beginning of the first year is a good idea, and can speed improvement to get the soil closer to balanced and get started off on the right foot. I was under the impression that perhaps you were new to gardening, and I'm wrong. It's clear you have much experience and know the right things to do. I think one thing you and I have in common is our garden is our sanctuary. It would really irritate me to have someone (or spouse for that matter) in my garden telling me what I'm doing is wrong. They would be wasting their breath and my time. I do believe just going out to the garden with no mention and doing it your way is best for you. Perhaps you can find a tactful way to banish him from the garden OK maybe that was a bit extreme, but certainly there are other things around that need fixing or tasks to be done that he is good at.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
pollinator
Posts: 572
Location: Palmyra, Virginia
52
books dog fish food preservation forest garden hugelkultur
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Liz,
Love the advice there and if it has worked well for Burra too that's good stuff. There are many times I can stroke his ego. He's wonderful at so many things and he and I both are hard workers. We both want to be the foreman. I just feel that when I have just started leaning him towards permaculture, he goes back the other way. I usually feel rushed to get stuff done when he's away, so it will be all done and it will be done my way.

The other day he decided to create another raised bed. He said he was planning to do it in a particular way. I came out to help him with it and partially into the project he asked me how did I think we should proceed. I had to tell him, "I can't answer that because I would have done it differently up to this point. This is your baby. We'll have to see how it does." I couldn't tear apart what he had done to make it fit my ideas. Had to just go with it.

He still thinks tilling, chem fertilizer and cides are fine. I get frustrated and cry. He says I am too over the top trying to protect the worms. That they aren't in as much danger as I think. Sigh.

James, you are welcome in my garden any day! 🐞
 
Liz Hoxie
Posts: 174
Location: Ellisforde, WA
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You did right by his idea for the bed. It's hard to keep our mouth shut when we KNOW we're right. If we let them fail on their own, they may start changing. He may never admit he's wrong, but it's more important that he change his actions. Just hang in there.
By the way, he is learning since he asked your opinion.
 
That feels good. Thanks. Here's a tiny ad:
permaculture bootcamp - learn permaculture through hard work
https://permies.com/t/59706/permaculture-bootcamp-learn-permaculture-hard
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