Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Farmer Gets the Soil Ready and Begins Planting...

The Farmer Gets the Soil
Ready & Begins Planting...
Twilight Project Updates 2011 / 3

After completing the building of the raised beds... more luck came our way: the weather cleared from rains long enough for the ground to dry up a bit, our local recycling center had organic compost soil ready to go and my friend Leo was available with his dump truck to fetch & deliver some 30 yards of it !

Its dark, rich, & moist and this black gold is full of yummy nitrogen and organic matter.

We also got a delivery of 3/8" volcanic rock, a local resource which we are fortunate to have... the red rock is light, porous and is a wonderful material to have on hand, either as an aggregate mix for the soil or as a mulch ground cover.

Before proceeding with filling the raised beds... the bottom of each interior is lined with a weed block fabric then aviary/gopher wire on top of that... both layers are stapled into place.

This preventative measure goes hand in hand with one of my personal philosophies: "If you build it, they will come". Best to be ready ahead of time !

Half the height of raised bed is filled with organic compost soil...

... then a layer of peat moss and crushed volcanic rock is added...

... then mixed thoroughly with a garden fork...

More compost soil is added on top... plus an appropriate amount of gypsum powder, a natural element which makes a
wonderful soil conditioner, enhancer and balancer.

Everything is mixed thoroughly, with never a foot step on the beds... I've been told that any compaction of the soil is the death of it... so... its real important to keep it as 'fluffy' as possible. Holding ones breath is unnecessary but the rule about compaction is pretty strict !

Chopped up straw makes the best top layer of all, an excellent mulch for all seasons !

The beds are almost ready to be planted... but because birds can be very rough on newly planted areas: by eating up the seeds / sprouts... or in their search for worms can unearth the plant roots... or worst ? outright stealing the produce (gasp!)... a framework for bird netting is built for each of the 9 raised beds.

With 2" x 2" timbers which Bruce created / ripped from our stash of wider reclaimed lumber planks... length wide framework for the sides of the beds are created & screwed into place... then covered with a plastic bird netting.

Once the beds are planted... then the ends of the bird netting are screwed into place.

Voila, the beds are now ready to be planted !

Except... WAIT... our farmer has to create a custom blend of organic nutrients which he drops at the bottom of each hole & mixes in with the swirl of his hand -THEN- the wee plant is placed and surrounded with soil then straw. (phew!)

The mix and contents of Bruce's nutrient blend depends upon the type of plant that is being put into the ground. Three elements are always present: NPK: nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium. The majority of vegetables get all of those in equal amounts but things like greens need higher nitrogen whilst root crops need higher phosphorous.

Bed #2 sure looks delicious, today... lots of greens to feast on soon... kale, collards, mustard, arugula, spinach & lettuce !

Sure looks yummy, doesn't it ?


  1. Wow! I need to do that, I love raised beds, and we have some really bad invasive weeds. I hadn't thought of stapling the weed barrier to the undersides of the raised beds, very smart!

  2. I am SO impressed! Good thing I'm not your neighbor - I'd be drooling on your greens!

  3. Wow wow wow... lots of love and tender care went into the beds. Thanks for sharing your labors here. They not only look productive, but these beds are so pretty... even without the yummy greens! Tee hee! YAY for summer gardens. Our greens bed is looking fabulous, and tonight... fresh salad with pears from our 2010 crop of pears! Mmmm mmmm. Life is good.

  4. great job on the blog posts, I am just now starting to poke my seeds into the ground, still have a little snow on the mountain peaks which the "old timers" say to wait for.. it has to be gone so we don't get caught by a late spring frost which would wipe out any new plants, which is what happened to a lot of floks around here last year when they staryed to early in our false spring..It all looks marlvelous, what a blessing Bruce has been for you!!.


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