• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies living kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • raven ranson
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Julia Winter
garden masters:
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • thomas rubino
  • Bill Crim
  • Kim Goodwin
  • Joylynn Hardesty
gardeners:
  • Amit Enventres
  • Mike Jay
  • Dan Boone

Rejuvenating Raised beds  RSS feed

 
Posts: 23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I need some advice or confirmation I am doing this right, please.

I am the co-coordinator at the local community garden. Unlike most community gardens this one feeds the needy and we do not lease out any plots, not surprisingly as there is no need with the town having large blocks on which people live, mine is 1/2 acre as an example. Anyway I have already become tangential... back to this garden. The organisation is a Not For Profit and there has been and still remains no money, so this has to be done on a shoe string.

There are nearly 30 beds in the design, which is another problem, the design, but my main problem is the soil.
Initially I manured, newspapered and mulched these beds, but nothing happened and 9 months later there was still newspaper there and the straw had not decomposed. I was tossed. I sat and contemplated my navel for a while and realised there is no life! No worms no microbial life and as some of these beds are 3 feet tall nothing was going to be able to crawl in either.

Texture wise most are a good loam, some are sandy but there is not life neither worm or microbial so I have decided to select the best beds to grow in this season and work  with green manures, compost and horse poo on the rest.
The beds for this season, my plan is to create a deepish ditch down the centre of the bed which will have horse poo, and compost added to it, using the horse poo to grow larger numbers of worms. Veg growing can be in the outer 2 feet. This outer 2 feet I have added blood and bone and pelletised chook poo to and have planted seedlings into that mix. Over the whole bed I have placed sugar cane mulch which has had planting holes created in it and compost added just before the seedlings.

Question is have I got it right this time??

Susan
 
gardener
Posts: 1219
Location: Middle Tennessee
193
books cat chicken food preservation homestead cooking purity trees
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Susan, welcome to Permies.

I have a couple questions for you that will help me and others assist you. Where about on the globe is this community garden located? Is the horse poo and chicken poo already composted or is it fresh? Did the raised beds receive at least somewhat regular rainfall to help that newspaper break down and straw to start decomposing?

Here's a couple suggestions that I have while not knowing the answer to any of the above questions. Making a mushroom slurry is easy and essentially free. Find some mushrooms, any mushrooms. Be it old ones from the grocery store that are being thrown out or wild ones growing about, put them in the blender with some water, maybe rainwater (preferably not chlorinated tap water), whir it up and add this to the raised beds. You mentioned you're using compost, so I'm guessing you have a compost pile, and making compost teas is easy and a great way to add microbial life to your raised beds. You mentioned you're going to select the best beds to grow crops in, the other beds ought not to be left empty. Grow something in them, even if it's volunteer weeds that show up from the wind. Growing something, anything, gets roots going down into the soil which helps host microbial life and improves soil. When you're done with the weeds or at seasons end, instead of pulling the weeds, cut the weeds out with shears or a knife just below the soil surface and leave all the roots in place and minimize soil disturbance, allowing the roots from those weeds to decay in place, thus further feeding microbial life and improving the soil. In fact, I do this with everything I grow. I no longer pull anything and cut everything just below the soil surface to leave roots in place to decay. These few simple steps will improve your soil, and doing this year in and year out can really help the soil as the years go by.
 
Susan Hutson
Posts: 23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hello James and thank you for the welcome and for the help, I so appreciate it

Part of the world is Australia and climate is considered cool mountain, but in saying that the only snow we get are flurries during the winter and our summer temps can reach 104 F regularly in the 6 hottest weeks of summer. Generally our rainfall is not a problem and this garden does come with an automated drip system on chlorinated water, which is not ideal, but we work with what we have.

The poo is fresh, which is why I have not used it in direct contact with the vegetable seedlings, I just hope I have left enough room between the ditch and the plant a space of about  a foot.

I have started with compost teas and I am adding some molasses to them as I make batches for use and spreading.

The worst beds -  the intent was to grow a green manure crop in them, cut it down, add some compost, fresh poo and cover with straw for 6 - 8 weeks then use. I love the idea of cutting below ground level, it is something I have not heard of before and was intending to cut at ground level but below makes better sense to me.

In the compost bin area I have placed 2 bags of fresh horse poo and covered it with straw and water.......... the area has already shown it has a big worm colony there and I am hoping to be able to harvest and add to the beds.

I think I have finally realised something which is never spoken of with raised beds and that is the only worm life they can sustain are those which are introduced either when being constructed or introduced with compost. I am not sure earthworms can re populate a bed from below especially if the surrounds of the bed can not support life. In this case they are paths which have been regularly exposed to glyphosate. 

The mushroom slurry suggestion, love it, never tried it bur certainly will thank you so much.

So hope I have answered your questions
Cheers
Susan and thanks again for the help
 
gardener
Posts: 4890
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
564
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Fresh manures should be composted if possible before using them as a garden amendment, microbes can and will travel and fresh manures have more pathogens than rotted manures.
The fresh manures also have more ciliates and anaerobic bacteria which are more harmful to the aerobic bacteria we want to grow and multiply.
Where ever you use fresh manures you are increasing the numbers of bad microbes than good microbes, that conflicts with what we want in our gardens.

Compost teas are wonderful and should be used within 48 to 72 hours of being started so you get the maximum beneficial microbe counts into your soil via watering or spraying.

If you add worms to a bed that contains fresh manure, you will not get benefits you will kill worms or they will leave the area since the anaerobic microbes will eat the earthworms.

Redhawk
 
Susan Hutson
Posts: 23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
OMG  I am reminding myself of the farmer who is anxious for crop growth that he goes out of a night time and tugs on his plants !! Arhhhhhhhhh

Ok .. so more horse poo and COMPOST it............
        Use what I have in the way of compost to get the winter crops in and be satisfied
        Green manure all beds not being used then set them up as no dig Beds with any left over compost and straw.
        Use compost teas 2/52?

Thank You RedHawk Sometimes it is nt easy to see the forest for the trees....

Cheers
Susan

 
Susan Hutson
Posts: 23
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

James said to not leave and soil without something growing in it. This leads to problem number two............ the bed design.

8 of these beds are 9 foot X 9 foot or 3m X 3m and the height of all is over 400mm or 16 inches. I have decided to only work the outside edge of these beds but what do I do with the middles   I am leaning toward planting some shrubs to attract beneficial insects including bees in a hope of two things  1) I will only have to walk  on my beds once a year when I prune and tidy the plants 2) attract more pollinators and keep the nastiest under control. is this feasible?? and plant preference would be helpful

Cheers
 
James Freyr
gardener
Posts: 1219
Location: Middle Tennessee
193
books cat chicken food preservation homestead cooking purity trees
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Susan-

Fear not! First I want to give a little more detail to what I said about not leaving beds empty. What I meant, but failed to give a good definition for, was to not leave a garden bed empty or fallow for an entire season or more. All my beds currently, nearing the end of winter now, have nothing growing in them. Most of my raised beds will be empty for about 3 months out of the year. What is also important with empty beds as with growing beds, is to have them covered in some sort of mulch. Exposed soil surfaces erode with the wind and rain, and the rain will also form a crust on the soil surface, which is not desirable. Even though my raised beds have nothing actively growing in them (except for my dormant strawberry bed since that is currently the only perennial I have growing), it doesn't mean that nothing is happening in the soil. The roots from last seasons plants are decomposing, feeding the microbial life that I put effort into nurturing.

I think your idea of utilizing the perimeter of the raised beds is a good one. The roots from those plants will spread far and wide, well into the middle of those beds and across to the other side, so that soil isn't going "unused". I also like your idea of maybe planting some flowers in the center to attract pollinators and beneficial insects. I don't know a whole lot about what varieties of flowers for those purposes to plant as companion plants (I'm still learning), hopefully others here at Permies who do know more about that will offer suggestions. While I'm talking about utilizing space, I've found that less is better when it comes to number of plants per bed. I used to try to plant too much in a bed and had problems with crowding, and the soil in the beds tends to dry our sooner, requiring irrigation more often if there isn't regular rainfall. I just browsed some past garden pictures I have and I've attached a pic of one of my beds growing one squash plant and one zucchini plant in a 4 foot by 8 foot bed. Each year I do this and at the beginning I think "man two plants in 32 square feet, certainly I can utilize this space better and plant something else in here", and each year I'm reminded about how large they get so quickly, and they'll just shade out anything else, and that those two plants is plenty for that size bed.
DSC_0223.JPG
[Thumbnail for DSC_0223.JPG]
 
Susan Hutson
Posts: 23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for that James and here is the other idea I have had. Maybe a tad way out but I will run it past you. I was thinking of planting the whole of these 8 beds out with white clover because of its nitrogen fixing ability. At planting time create a planting hole and put in the seedlings or make a furrow and plant the seeds for root veg. The root veg concerns me a bit and as to whether the veg will get taken over but I am having more difficulty seeing anything wrong with larger plants. However, I am totally open to all thoughts.

Cheers
Susan [/size]
 
pollinator
Posts: 359
Location: Redwood Country, Zone 9, 60" rain/yr,
21
dog duck hugelkultur
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This seems like a great teachable moment regarding the damage and self-defeating effects of glyphosates and other herbicides.

We have a large area around here where Easter lily bulb farmers have gotten themselves over a barrel due to chemical and monocrop dependence and the inevitable soil collapse that results. Some have moved on to "organic" dairy and beef on land sprayed just a year or two before. This is disturbing in what it says about "organic" certification and our county's corrupt oligarchy that gets away with anything they want, and as descendants of logging barons and perpetrators of genocide this is generally antithetical to permaculture. But at least the corruption means the building inspectors are too oblivious to do anything about permie-projects.

If I were to have my druthers, I'd support the transition of these glyphosate and other biocide polluted farm lands to alder (or other locally appropriate firewood and lumber) stands rich in diverse fungi to neutralize these poisons, fixate nitrogen, build soil, and produce firewood and lumber. In your case, I would try converting to hugelkultur, wherein the wood and its associated fungus could neutralize some of the harm of the glyphosate. Ideally in your case you might grow a flush of mushrooms (which you would not want to eat) or perhaps cut flowers to sell that tolerate glyphosate and may absorb some of this known carcinogen. I am in a similarly unenviable position in a community food forest project I am working on, but instead of herbicides, this site was mechanically denuded of life, and is immediately below of 14acres of hardscape shedding 100" of rain a year. Good luck to you in fighting the good fight.
 
pollinator
Posts: 969
Location: Los Angeles, CA
146
books chicken food preservation forest garden hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've seen people on this forum post heartbreaking stories of bringing in manure from cattle and horses that had been fed herbicide-laden hay.  The hay and the herbicide went right though the digestive tract and came out as herbicide tainted manure, only to contaminate the garden soil that it was later spread on.  Sadly, some of these herbicides have a half-life of several years.  I hope that isn't your situation.
 
Susan Hutson
Posts: 23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Mee too Marco.
 
garden master
Posts: 1855
Location: USDA Zone 8a
304
bee dog food preservation greening the desert hunting cooking purity trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Susan Hutson wrote: I have decided to only work the outside edge of these beds but what do I do with the middles   I am leaning toward planting some shrubs to attract beneficial insects including bees in a hope of two things  1) I will only have to walk  on my beds once a year when I prune and tidy the plants 2) attract more pollinators and keep the nastiest under control. is this feasible?? and plant preference would be helpful



You might consider planting flowering herbs.  This article talks about some.

https://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/pollinator-friendly-herbs-zbcz1502

What comes to mind: Lavender, Thyme, Sage, Basil and Oregano.

There are other medicinal like Purple Coneflower and edible flowers like Calendula, Nasturtiums,
 
Posts: 25
Location: Moorefield, Ontario, Canada
2
bee chicken forest garden
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I noticed that your only water access was chlorinated. This could be part of the problem.
I suggest a holding tank for the water with the top open and most of the chlorine will evaporate or add some kind of charcoal filter as a permanent fix.
 
Posts: 239
26
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You can also get fairly cheap inline chlorine filters. In the US there is a brand called gard'n grow that sells for about $70 with replacement filters selling for around $30. One of these will remove about 80% of the chlorine typically and two in a chain will remove effectively all of it. Also if you can aerate a holding tank you should be able to dechlorinate around 50 gallons in 24 hours.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1361
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
16
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Chlorine doesn't evaporate anymore since they are using something else. Get a small tank. A bed 3x3 m is not maneagable, you need to change the size. I don't make any bed wider than 1 meter, but I don't use raised beds, but I would not make raised beds wider as well. I like clover, but I doubt that root crops would grow well there, the clover would probably overrun every carrot and you want carrots and not turnips.
 
Marco Banks
pollinator
Posts: 969
Location: Los Angeles, CA
146
books chicken food preservation forest garden hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Perhaps the best solution this year would be to plant a very heavy cover crop.  I'd go with a multi-species mix of 10 or more different plants, some nitrogen fixing, some broad leaf, some grasses, etc.  Get some biologic life down into the soil profile while the plants do their thing and pump the soil with exudates, sugars and starches.

At the end of the season you can chop and drop it and you'll have a great bed of mulch into which you can plant next year.
 
Susan Hutson
Posts: 23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Thank You to every one who has responded to help me with these issues. As mentioned at the start money IS an issue with this group & garden and I am really really trying to be a spendthrift here.
Marco - I agree with your solution for this year and in the beds I do not need for food a heavy cover crop, below soil surface dropped for soil life was on the drawing boards. Seeds have been purchased already.
to It seems knowledge about soil life have increased whilst I was not paying attention and I have some catching up to do. Compost teas I can make at home, as we only use rain water here, distribution will have to be with chlorinated water, unfortunately, as I have to work with what I have.
Anne - thanks for that link I have planted lots of herbs throughout the garden and will put in some bocking 14 comfrey also to help mine minerals and return to the soil as a mulch.
Angelila & Stephen - the chlorinated water supply is an issue and I already have tanks 2 X 10,000 litre ones but in a garden this size it goes no where and usually before summer has gotten mid way through I have reverted to town water supply. This situation is not helped by the fact that there is a leak in one of the beds and that bed continually floods . Until recently I have been the only person looking after this garden I have now got some help so are planning to dig this bed out and find where the leak is coming from and repair. However, that bed is linked to 2 other beds in the automatic watering system and those beds, may have to be the first I stop working with and then use cover crops to rejuvenate.
Angelica- 3 X 3 beds are not the ideal situation  and in time I will be able to make these beds key hole beds but that is a way down the track at this time.
Stephen & Lorne - mentioned in line filters I am going to have to research this and see if it is something the organisation is willing to put money into.
All this I am taking on board and thanking you all for your assistance
Cheers
Susan
 
Posts: 328
Location: SW PA USA zone 6a altitude 1188ft
21
trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would plant the crops I want in the beds as they exist now. Except that the leak needs fixed. Sounds to me like you've done an excellent job of improving the soil you have. I would also use the water you have as is. I wouldn't add any fertilizer during the growing season and I wouldn't use any insecticides. I have never used any commercial fertilizers, or insecticides on any thing I intend to eat. I grow only heirlooms . The only problem I have is some stink bug damage to tomatoes and I'm fighting a late blight problem on the tomatoes. I no longer worry about picking disease resistant varieties. I save seeds from some of my crops and plant them the following year.

You can over do the worrying about getting it right.
 
gardener
Posts: 2433
102
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think Angelika is talking about chloramine. It is added to many water supplies because in some, the water can take a week to get through to the tap.  Then chlorine would no longer be effective.  Chloramine doesn't leave the water naturally through evaporation, but if you need some water without it, you can put some compost in it and the chloramine will be transformed into something that doesn't kill all the microbes.

Some water supplies will have one or the other or both. You have to check with your local supply to know how to respond.
John S
PDX OR
 
pollinator
Posts: 1622
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
36
bike forest garden solar tiny house purity wofati
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Susan Hutson wrote: there is no life! No worms no microbial life and as some of these beds are 3 feet tall nothing was going to be able to crawl in either.
...
I think I have finally realised something which is never spoken of with raised beds and that is the only worm life they can sustain are those which are introduced either when being constructed or introduced with compost.



worms can travel 200m and climb, all during the night!
As I saw your concern in 2 different posts, I thought I might make you think about this point....

Here I am in subtropical dry, and lack of humidity is my main issue, and the second one is that I can see I have more worms where I have fresh wet organic matter, like a lot of roots and even pieces of rotting wood. Opuntia pads are quite good for example. And old papaya wood, as this is very soft like a sponde. Maybe straw and newspaper are just too hard? I have also noticed that worms love stones!
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
Posts: 1622
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
36
bike forest garden solar tiny house purity wofati
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Bryant RedHawk wrote:
If you add worms to a bed that contains fresh manure, you will not get benefits you will kill worms or they will leave the area since the anaerobic microbes will eat the earthworms.

Redhawk



Black soldiers flies? They seem ok with fresh manure as food, and are also helpful to add road kills, dead rats lizards...
 
John Duda
Posts: 328
Location: SW PA USA zone 6a altitude 1188ft
21
trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Susan didn't mention anything but chlorinated water as in:

"Angelila & Stephen - the chlorinated water supply is an issue ......"

I am aware that some communities use more chlorine than others but I have used city water in a garden without issues. Myself we have well water but there's public water in the street. But two of my neighbors have dug new wells. Who wants to drink a glass of chlorinated water, ice tea, or a delicious cup of coffee that tastes like chlorine. BUT I have used chlorinated water for my gardens over the years.

My uncle ran a city garden until the construction crews required it to be abandoned. It was at least a quarter acre. Each person who signed up got a garden maybe 12 x20. I had one for two years over 30 years ago. One year I grew two crops of corn in about half of a plot. Everyone said you can't do that. After the first crop I put in about two inches of horse manure. I don't think it was too composted. In the spring you get well composted manure off the pile, if your careful. In the summer you get everything except the well composted feature. I took a picture with the tall corn in the foreground with the city skyline behind it. Anyway we had a connection to city water and that garden got knocked out by the interstate highway I-279.

I'd just plant the crops I wanted, fall veggies, flowers. If I translate the hemispheres we're moving into August in a few days. Plant some seeds, there $3.00 a package here. Put what's left in a glass jar with a metal lid and reuse them in 6 months again.

Susan, good luck with the gardening and I thank you for those your helping grow some veggies and getting some experience for the younguns (cubbies?).
 
What's gotten into you? Could it be this tiny ad?
Solar Dehydrator Plans - Combo Package download
https://permies.com/t/solar-dehydrator
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!