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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2012 8:01 am 
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RoneKiln wrote:
This last winter we had a large amount of tree branches come down in my parents yard. Then our neighbors tossed a lot of theirs over their fence into my parents yard. I was about to pay someone to come in and chip them into mulch untill stumbling across Hugelkultur in this thread.

Thank you.

Today my best friend brought his little tractor over and we moved some old dirt piles from the front to back yard and spent a little extra time leveling the yard. Next week, we'll bring in a pile of manure from my buddy's horse barn. I'm hiring two teenagers from the church trying to raise money for a mission trip to Mexico to come in and clip up the branches (I already chainsawed the larger branches) and dump them into the planned beds. Most of the back yard will be turned into raised beds, at least 3 of them lower Hugelkultur beds. The front yard also looks much better now (even with it being all torn up), and my Mom is ecstatic over the improvement.

I wish I had taken a few "before" pictures. I'll try to get some pics of the semi-finished beds next weekend, assuming they actually get put in. We're going to plant a clover and thyme lawn in the front yard that we just tore up. Might get a few rabbits next year to feed clover to. :)


PICS! Seriously, too cool. Glad you found something to do with those branches!...

On a side note, if you are doing rabbits, Alfalpha is where its at.

It's a Perennial that also happens to be a Nitrogen fixer like Clover (that we can consume as well).

Feed the soil, the rabbits, and the humans at the same time. :wink:

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2012 10:06 am 
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RoneKiln wrote:
This last winter we had a large amount of tree branches come down in my parents yard. Then our neighbors tossed a lot of theirs over their fence into my parents yard. I was about to pay someone to come in and chip them into mulch untill stumbling across Hugelkultur in this thread.

Thank you.

Today my best friend brought his little tractor over and we moved some old dirt piles from the front to back yard and spent a little extra time leveling the yard. Next week, we'll bring in a pile of manure from my buddy's horse barn. I'm hiring two teenagers from the church trying to raise money for a mission trip to Mexico to come in and clip up the branches (I already chainsawed the larger branches) and dump them into the planned beds. Most of the back yard will be turned into raised beds, at least 3 of them lower Hugelkultur beds. The front yard also looks much better now (even with it being all torn up), and my Mom is ecstatic over the improvement.

I wish I had taken a few "before" pictures. I'll try to get some pics of the semi-finished beds next weekend, assuming they actually get put in. We're going to plant a clover and thyme lawn in the front yard that we just tore up. Might get a few rabbits next year to feed clover to. :)


Thats awsome, lemons into lemonade! I look forward to seeing your progress.... Ours is growing like "weeds". My wife loves to stand out there and "graze".

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 5:20 pm 
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My first steps toward permaculture were to plant some fruit trees.

Planted in March:
This is my Methley Plum tree purchased from the local Southern States:
Image



My Redhaven Peach tree purchased from the local Southern States:
Image

which is now showing some little baby peaches:
Image



These next two images are of the Goldhaven Cherry twins purchased from the local Southern States:
Image

Image



Planted in April
The local nurseries did not have an Elberta Peach tree, so I ordered one online from Gurney's......it's a smidge less than what I expected (live and learn, I suppose):
Image



Each of the trees was buried with a mix of 2 parts coir and 1 part aged chicken and rabbit poop. Local soil fills the remainder of the hole and we mulched with leaf debris from the woods. As they grow, they will create a nook providing shade for our beehives. As they get bigger, I intend to add Siberian Pea Shrub as the mid-layer in this section and I have not yet decided on the low level yet, but I think it will include clover.

The trees are planted in the northeast corner of the unwooded portion of my property. They are at the top of a gradual rise that moves down southward. The Methley Plum and Elberta Peach trees are along the northern edge of woods just west of the beehives. The Redhaven Peach tree is south of the Methley Plum and southwest of the beehives. The Goldhaven Cherry twins are along the eastern edge of the woods south of the beehives. I plan to start our permaculture at this corner and work out south and west until the entire property is complete. :mrgreen:

ETA: the little bands around the tree trunks are to keep the inchworms from over-infesting our trees before we can better establish the permaculture. The strips are a layer of thin foam (to keep the tape from directly adhering to the tree) wrapped with foil tape. The foil tape is then slathered with petroleum jelly to keep the caterpillars (inchworms) from climbing back up the tree after we picked them all off by hand.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 6:00 pm 
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Anianna wrote:
My first steps toward permaculture were to plant some fruit trees.

Each of the trees was buried with a mix of 2 parts coir and 1 part aged chicken and rabbit poop. Local soil fills the remainder of the hole and we mulched with leaf debris from the woods. As they grow, they will create a nook providing shade for our beehives. As they get bigger, I intend to add Siberian Pea Shrub as the mid-layer in this section and I have not yet decided on the low level yet, but I think it will include clover.

The trees are planted in the northeast corner of the unwooded portion of my property. They are at the top of a gradual rise that moves down southward. The Methley Plum and Elberta Peach trees are along the northern edge of woods just west of the beehives. The Redhaven Peach tree is south of the Methley Plum and southwest of the beehives. The Goldhaven Cherry twins are along the eastern edge of the woods south of the beehives. I plan to start our permaculture at this corner and work out south and west until the entire property is complete. :mrgreen:

ETA: the little bands around the tree trunks are to keep the inchworms from over-infesting our trees before we can better establish the permaculture. The strips are a layer of thin foam (to keep the tape from directly adhering to the tree) wrapped with foil tape. The foil tape is then slathered with petroleum jelly to keep the caterpillars (inchworms) from climbing back up the tree after we picked them all off by hand.


Sweet! You go girl! Makes me so jealous that we don't have our land yet. Makes my bucket garden look like child's play.

A few points of order if you don't mind...

Is there a possibility of a wide angle shot of the trees together?
Is there any (grade/direction) fall on the plot that you are improving? I saw the part about the gradual rise, but wasn't sure if it leveled off where your planting site exits.

I am thinking you could add in some smaller earth works (depending) and I would also do the clover (and other N-fix ground covers for diversity if you can) as soon as possible. I would also look into some N-fixing supporting trees and bushes that will grow in your Zones. Keep in mind that even many larger tree species can be pollarded and coppiced (i.e. Black Locust) to regulate the size (and secondary function i.e. firewood) and keep them as understory growth.

Great job mulching with the native forest leaves...I hope that you also grabbed some of the forest topsoil under said leaves for impregnating the site with all kinds of beneficial organisms. ;)

I would also think about planting a "green" mulching crop around the base of the baby trees (such as comfrey) to use for additional "free" live mulch (with its own important role vs. brown mulch) throughout the growing seasons. You just chop and drop as little as a few times a year around the base.

Anywhoo...Great job! :mrgreen:

ETA: And thanks for the awesome contribution to the thread! ;)

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 6:19 pm 
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Shaper wrote:
Anianna wrote:
My first steps toward permaculture were to plant some fruit trees.

Each of the trees was buried with a mix of 2 parts coir and 1 part aged chicken and rabbit poop. Local soil fills the remainder of the hole and we mulched with leaf debris from the woods. As they grow, they will create a nook providing shade for our beehives. As they get bigger, I intend to add Siberian Pea Shrub as the mid-layer in this section and I have not yet decided on the low level yet, but I think it will include clover.

The trees are planted in the northeast corner of the unwooded portion of my property. They are at the top of a gradual rise that moves down southward. The Methley Plum and Elberta Peach trees are along the northern edge of woods just west of the beehives. The Redhaven Peach tree is south of the Methley Plum and southwest of the beehives. The Goldhaven Cherry twins are along the eastern edge of the woods south of the beehives. I plan to start our permaculture at this corner and work out south and west until the entire property is complete. :mrgreen:

ETA: the little bands around the tree trunks are to keep the inchworms from over-infesting our trees before we can better establish the permaculture. The strips are a layer of thin foam (to keep the tape from directly adhering to the tree) wrapped with foil tape. The foil tape is then slathered with petroleum jelly to keep the caterpillars (inchworms) from climbing back up the tree after we picked them all off by hand.


Sweet! You go girl! Makes me so jealous that we don't have our land yet. Makes my bucket garden look like child's play.

A few points of order if you don't mind...

Is there a possibility of a wide angle shot of the trees together?
Is there any (grade/direction) fall on the plot that you are improving? I saw the part about the gradual rise, but wasn't sure if it leveled off where your planting site exits.

I am thinking you could add in some smaller earth works (depending) and I would also do the clover (and other N-fix ground covers for diversity if you can) as soon as possible. I would also look into some N-fixing supporting trees and bushes that will grow in your Zones. Keep in mind that even many larger tree species can be pollarded and coppiced (i.e. Black Locust) to regulate the size (and secondary function i.e. firewood) and keep them as understory growth.

Great job mulching with the native forest leaves...I hope that you also grabbed some of the forest topsoil under said leaves for impregnating the site with all kinds of beneficial organisms. ;)

I would also think about planting a "green" mulching crop around the base of the baby trees (such as comfrey) to use for additional "free" live mulch (with its own important role vs. brown mulch) throughout the growing seasons. You just chop and drop as little as a few times a year around the base.

Anywhoo...Great job! :mrgreen:

ETA: And thanks for the awesome contribution to the thread! ;)


It is not entirely level where I planted the trees, but the incline is really only noticeable when watering the trees and you can see a bit of water heading south, but only slowly. The Siberian Pea Shrubs I plan to plant are N-fixers and they are next in my plan. I hope to get them in this year, but I really don't know for sure if I will be able to. I am still learning, so I will take your advice to heart. I am also still just learning about "green mulching crops" and do plan to add some once I have a better understanding. My husband did attempt to grow clover in that area earlier this spring, but he did not pack or mulch the seed and just tossed it out there, so I really don't know if it will grow at all.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 6:43 pm 
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Sorry for the rudimentary image I made just now, but I hope this helps...
Image
The Dark Green shows the tree from an aerial view.

The brown ring is the small mound you make around the base of the tree that follows the natural drip-line of the tree. This is where you plant your "green" mulch.(the beautifully drawn light blue squiggles, respectfully)

Inside the ring is where the brown and green mulch go to rest. Alternating them as best you can.

As the tree grows (about every 3-5 ft diameter of expansion you add a new, bugger and wider green mulch ring.

ETA: Eventually, the tree will start producing enough of its own mulch to let the floor level alone. It is then you can start adding the final touches of your longer term (I call them "end game" species) under story trees and plants.

A random cluster about midway to maturity...
Image

Notice how I show one that the ring is not complete...once the drip lines start touching you can open up the rings in any given cluster. This is also a good sign for starting long term understory design implementation. (As another example, in this cluster, you could also open up the area in the middle of the other 3 trees.)

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 7:17 pm 
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Shaper wrote:
Sorry for the rudimentary image I made just now, but I hope this helps...
Image
The Dark Green shows the tree from an aerial view.

The brown ring is the small mound you make around the base of the tree that follows the natural drip-line of the tree. This is where you plant your "green" mulch.(the beautifully drawn light blue squiggles, respectfully)

Inside the ring is where the brown and green mulch go to rest. Alternating them as best you can.

As the tree grows (about every 3-5 ft diameter of expansion you add a new, bugger and wider green mulch ring.

ETA: Eventually, the tree will start producing enough of its own mulch to let the floor level alone. It is then you can start adding the final touches of your longer term (I call them "end game" species) under story trees and plants.


That's straight forward enough, thank you!

Here is the layout of that northeast corner (I don't yet have my entire property mapped out yet except for in my head):
Image

The wind usually blows southeast through here and the woods should act as the primary windbreak for the hives, though it sometimes takes a more easterly direction, so I put the two trees west of the hives for the purpose of helping with the wind (and because fruit trees should be on the north edge of the property). The peach and cherry trees south of the hives will provide shad in the hot summer sun for the bees and they'll get plenty of sun in the winter when the leaves die off.


A picture of the area from the house (forgive my mess) with the trees circled in red and the concrete blocks the beehives are going on circled in orange:
Image



As you can see, I like to let nature take over. That entire section had been that tall, dry grass, but my husband mowed it in odd patches and left some. :lol:

South of the house, the woods come to an end as they head west and there are well-established fruit trees south/southeast of the house at the woods edge. Those were here when we moved in and include two apple trees, a plum tree, and two ornamental pear trees. West of the house, there are two ornamental trees, one of which is an ornamental plum tree and the other is something that does not fruit but has gorgeous pink blossoms in the spring. I consider these trees to be my outer circle. We do have more property west of that circle that is currently lent to a local farmer and our property east is all wooded. I hope to permaculture everything within that circle and maybe someday take the west field back over and work that, too, right out to the road. I am still mapping out the circle, though, and observing the weather conditions at each spot on the property. I know where it gets mushy in heavy rain and where the dry spots are. I also know of many local wild plants that I would like to leave undisturbed, such as the Jerusalem artichokes that grow in various locations all over the place and wild berries that grow at the edges of the woods.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 7:27 pm 
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Anianna wrote:
Shaper wrote:
Sorry for the rudimentary image I made just now, but I hope this helps...

As you can see, I like to let nature take over. That entire section had been that tall, dry grass, but my husband mowed it in odd patches and left some. :lol:

South of the house, the woods come to an end as they head west and there are well-established fruit trees south/southeast of the house at the woods edge. Those were here when we moved in and include two apple trees, a plum tree, and two ornamental pear trees. West of the house, there are two ornamental trees, one of which is an ornamental plum tree and the other is something that does not fruit but has gorgeous pink blossoms in the spring. I consider these trees to be my outer circle. We do have more property west of that circle that is currently lent to a local farmer and our property east is all wooded. I hope to permaculture everything within that circle and maybe someday take the west field back over and work that, too, right out to the road. I am still mapping out the circle, though, and observing the weather conditions at each spot on the property. I know where it gets mushy in heavy rain and where the dry spots are. I also know of many local wild plants that I would like to leave undisturbed, such as the Jerusalem artichokes that grow in various locations all over the place and wild berries that grow at the edges of the woods.


I think I got a little choked up read this, lol. I love hearing someone speak in Permie language about their land. Good on ya!

Could you take that image you drew of your layout and mark the highest and lowest points on that map?

I am thinking you might have a possible mini-swale available to you (or in the very least a daisy chain reservoir system) in your layout to keep your baby trees very well hydrated with minimal input. :wink:

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:04 pm 
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Shaper wrote:
Anianna wrote:
Shaper wrote:
Sorry for the rudimentary image I made just now, but I hope this helps...

As you can see, I like to let nature take over. That entire section had been that tall, dry grass, but my husband mowed it in odd patches and left some. :lol:

South of the house, the woods come to an end as they head west and there are well-established fruit trees south/southeast of the house at the woods edge. Those were here when we moved in and include two apple trees, a plum tree, and two ornamental pear trees. West of the house, there are two ornamental trees, one of which is an ornamental plum tree and the other is something that does not fruit but has gorgeous pink blossoms in the spring. I consider these trees to be my outer circle. We do have more property west of that circle that is currently lent to a local farmer and our property east is all wooded. I hope to permaculture everything within that circle and maybe someday take the west field back over and work that, too, right out to the road. I am still mapping out the circle, though, and observing the weather conditions at each spot on the property. I know where it gets mushy in heavy rain and where the dry spots are. I also know of many local wild plants that I would like to leave undisturbed, such as the Jerusalem artichokes that grow in various locations all over the place and wild berries that grow at the edges of the woods.


I think I got a little choked up read this, lol. I love hearing someone speak in Permie language about their land. Good on ya!

Could you take that image you drew of your layout and mark the highest and lowest points on that map?

I am thinking you might have a possible mini-swale available to you (or in the very least a daisy chain reservoir system) in your layout to keep your baby trees very well hydrated with minimal input. :wink:


I'm running close to my upload limit. The high point is at the beehives. The low point is southwest of the trees. I would stick the low point for that section just under where I put the "S" to mark south on my crude little map. It does not get mushy there, but a bit further south does get mushy when it rains a good bit (my husband has gotten the 4x4 truck stuck down there before :lol: ).

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 10:03 am 
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Is there a list somewhere of good green mulch plants?

ETA: Found some. :mrgreen:

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 10:28 am 
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Anianna wrote:
Is there a list somewhere of good green mulch plants?

ETA: Found some. :mrgreen:


And you didn't post them here? For shame! :P

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 10:52 am 
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Shaper wrote:
Anianna wrote:
Is there a list somewhere of good green mulch plants?

ETA: Found some. :mrgreen:


And you didn't post them here? For shame! :P


There are lots of them. You just have to google "green manure plant" rather than "green mulch plant".


Update on our inchworm infestation:
The bands I put around our fruit trees are working great! I got this foam and cut it to 2" wide strips. I then cut those strips to the length that would fit around each tree without overlapping. I then cut a length of foil tape so that it was longer than the length of foam, placed the foam on the adhesive, and wrapped it around the tree with the sticky overlap holding it all on. The adhesive never touches the tree. It doesn't stay smooth, the tape crumples a bit around the foam as you put it on and I was concerned that would make it ineffective. Once on, I slathered petrolium jelly all over the foil tape.

We had been pulling 50+ inchworms off of the plum tree alone every day and 30+ off of one of the cherry trees. The other cherry tree usually had 10-20 and just a few were on the peach tree. The other day, as soon as we had picked all we could find of off each tree, I wrapped the foam/foil bands on. I went to check them yesterday and we found only two inchworms on the plum tree and that was all.

Just to make sure we still had the inchworms, I stepped into the woods. They are so bad this year that it sounds like rain in the woods because there are so many inchworms repelling from the trees. I stopped and listened and, sure enough, I could hear the inchworms still raining out of the trees and I could see them floating all over the place on their little silken strands. We still have them and those bands are working great to protect our baby trees!

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 8:46 am 
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Great thread everyone, thank you!
We have our raised bed garden built, now we have to fill it. I have heard mixed reviews on using weed barrier cloth.
We are installing chicken wire on the bottom, to keep the small undergrouund critters out. Then we were going to lay down weed barrier or thick newspaper, then a mix of soil, mushroom compost and rabbit poop.
Image

We attended a mini-permaculture class last Saturday, the concept is amazing! I still have LOTS to learn!

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 4:32 pm 
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NoAm wrote:
Great thread everyone, thank you!
We have our raised bed garden built, now we have to fill it. I have heard mixed reviews on using weed barrier cloth.
We are installing chicken wire on the bottom, to keep the small undergrouund critters out. Then we were going to lay down weed barrier or thick newspaper, then a mix of soil, mushroom compost and rabbit poop.
Image

We attended a mini-permaculture class last Saturday, the concept is amazing! I still have LOTS to learn!


Great Job, NoAm's!

I really like the rough cut logs for the beds. Do you do them yourself or elsewhere?

Any plans on what/how you are planting it?

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 7:03 pm 
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I had a nice long post going and lost it :gonk:
Long story short, we got the log slabs for free from a sawmill. Yay Free!
I mulled over for weeks what to use. RR ties (only because we had them on hand, but the creosote concerned me), Landscape timbers, treated/untreated lumber. I started looking locally and got referred to the sawmill.

Image
As far as the layout, we always do the tomatoes up top, because they love the acid of the hemlocks above. We tried the japenese tomato rings last year and the plants LOVED it. 100's Tomatoes below that.
Sugar Snap Peas go on the vertical stand
Potatoes on the left section above the raised bed Unknown in the middle, above the raised bed

In the raised bed, I am thinking...
Top Right section going down:
Green Beans on Fencing
Squash/Zuchinni possibly
Lower section from Left to Right:
Cucumbers on fencing Carrots Radishes Onions

I have a few pumpkin plants to put in, but I know they will get huge. Maybe on the very bottom of the raised bed, to grow outside and down? Could green peppers be planted in between the pumpkins to maximize space?

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 10:00 pm 
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NoAm wrote:
I had a nice long post going and lost it :gonk:
Long story short, we got the log slabs for free from a sawmill. Yay Free!
I mulled over for weeks what to use. RR ties (only because we had them on hand, but the creosote concerned me), Landscape timbers, treated/untreated lumber. I started looking locally and got referred to the sawmill.

Image
As far as the layout, we always do the tomatoes up top, because they love the acid of the hemlocks above. We tried the japenese tomato rings last year and the plants LOVED it. 100's Tomatoes below that.
Sugar Snap Peas go on the vertical stand
Potatoes on the left section above the raised bed Unknown in the middle, above the raised bed

In the raised bed, I am thinking...
Top Right section going down:
Green Beans on Fencing
Squash/Zuchinni possibly
Lower section from Left to Right:
Cucumbers on fencing Carrots Radishes Onions

I have a few pumpkin plants to put in, but I know they will get huge. Maybe on the very bottom of the raised bed, to grow outside and down? Could green peppers be planted in between the pumpkins to maximize space?


Curious...What are the Cardinal directions of the raised bed in reference to that pic?

I would...

Put the cucumber, peas, and carrots together. - Add in Sage with this group.
Radishes can go near anything but carrots. Put them with the Squash (if you grow it).
Keep the Onions away from the Beans and Peas. I would put them with the Tomatoes.
Put the peppers with the Tomatoes as well. - Add Parsley, Basil, and Oregano. (Lasagna anyone?)
Squash (if you grow it) and Pumpkins by the beans.
And finally - Add Borage, Yarrow, Marigolds, and Mustard in any empty spots for extra support and pest deterrent.

Mulch well, and mulch deep. :)

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 6:51 am 
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Great suggestions Shaper, thank you!

The Tomato Cages (Top) are East, on the lefthand side of the garden is West.

I usually do a seperate 3-part garden off our backporch. I tried this last year and loved it!
I had a salad (lettuce) area, herbs and mint. I will post up some pics if photobucket will quit punking out on me.

Can the pumpkins be grown in 5 gallon containers (left to billow out) or should I put them im the beds to billow out? I was just thinking of the space they would take up in the beds.

I bought the marigold seeds yesterday and am going to get them started today :D
I was going to put them in the ground around the raised bed garden, but I LOVE the idea of planting them within the garden!

Keep the suggestions coming everyone. I am lovin' this!

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 7:29 am 
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Oooo! I played around with a program and came up with this...
So these are my ideas, as of now?
Image
This is the fencing we are going to grow the cucumbers on. (Thrift store find! $14 for all!)
Image

Everything outside the raised bed has been tilled in previous years and has some soil mixed in. Other than that, HARD Red Clay.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 8:38 am 
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This may help as well. These are the most linear (not the only obviously) connections of the plants planned you listed in the raised bed...

Cucumber > Carrot > Radish > Pumpkin > Squash

Cucumber > Beans > Radish

Potato - Cucumber = Squash


- Not Compatible
> Compatible
= Neutral

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 8:58 am 
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Thank you Shaper, that is helpful!

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:37 pm 
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New dilemma :gonk:
I was all set to purchase a couple of scoops of good topsoil, add the rabbit poop and be ready to plant.
I thumbed through the 'New Square Foot Garden' book and he is recommending the mixture of
1/3 mixed composte (which I do not have)
1/3 Peat Moss
1/3 Coarse Vermiculite

In the past I have made small quanitites of this I used Nature's Helper, Peat Moss & Vermiculite, but we are talking HUGE quantities here!

I am thinking
1/3 Mixture of Mushroom Composte (I can buy that by the scoop) & Rabbit Poop
1/3 Peat Moss
1/3 Vermiculite (Doesn't this just come in small expensive bags?)

Does anyone have any suggestions? We want to start this off right, but sensible.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 1:21 am 
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NoAm wrote:
New dilemma :gonk:
I was all set to purchase a couple of scoops of good topsoil, add the rabbit poop and be ready to plant.
I thumbed through the 'New Square Foot Garden' book and he is recommending the mixture of
1/3 mixed composte (which I do not have)
1/3 Peat Moss
1/3 Coarse Vermiculite

In the past I have made small quanitites of this I used Nature's Helper, Peat Moss & Vermiculite, but we are talking HUGE quantities here!

I am thinking
1/3 Mixture of Mushroom Composte (I can buy that by the scoop) & Rabbit Poop
1/3 Peat Moss
1/3 Vermiculite (Doesn't this just come in small expensive bags?)

Does anyone have any suggestions? We want to start this off right, but sensible.


Honestly, it's hard to say without a soil test, BUT if you believe your top soil to be viable, you can do a damn near 50/50 mix with a complete compost. If the soil doesn't drain well (or drains too well), the pH is jacked, or it is barren, etc., then obviously you have to find other top soil, amend what you have, or do the expensive mix of Peat/Vermiculite. There are fixes to all of those issues as well, but I don't want to complicate the issue just yet, lol.

With the size of your raised beds, you have to think more like permanent garden soil, and less like a potting soil which really has to be replaced or reconditioned as it is used for proper performance. In your instance, you will be ramping up the fertility of the soil each year with your soil amendments, your compost teas, your cover crops, your mulches, your inoculates, your worms etc. (It is in these practices were the "magic" happens) So, right now you don't have to sweat the small stuff.

I would first try a small batch of good screened top soil (either yours, or procured) and do a 5-6 gallon test batch of 50% topsoil and 50% mushroom compost/rabbit poo. Check consistency, clumping, drainage, and pH. I would be willing to say you would be damn close, if not there at that point. If it is still a bit off, the results will pretty much tell you what you need to add then and there. (i.e. lime/dolomite, sand, hummus, etc.)

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 8:00 am 
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Shaper wrote:
Honestly, it's hard to say without a soil test, BUT if you believe your top soil to be viable, you can do a damn near 50/50 mix with a complete compost. If the soil doesn't drain well (or drains too well), the pH is jacked, or it is barren, etc., then obviously you have to find other top soil, amend what you have, or do the expensive mix of Peat/Vermiculite. There are fixes to all of those issues as well, but I don't want to complicate the issue just yet, lol.

With the size of your raised beds, you have to think more like permanent garden soil, and less like a potting soil which really has to be replaced or reconditioned as it is used for proper performance. In your instance, you will be ramping up the fertility of the soil each year with your soil amendments, your compost teas, your cover crops, your mulches, your inoculates, your worms etc. (It is in these practices were the "magic" happens) So, right now you don't have to sweat the small stuff.

I would first try a small batch of good screened top soil (either yours, or procured) and do a 5-6 gallon test batch of 50% topsoil and 50% mushroom compost/rabbit poo. Check consistency, clumping, drainage, and pH. I would be willing to say you would be damn close, if not there at that point. If it is still a bit off, the results will pretty much tell you what you need to add then and there. (i.e. lime/dolomite, sand, hummus, etc.)


Thanks Again Shaper! Our soil is pretty much red clay CONCRETE. :(
So a scoop of topsoil, a scoop of mushroom composte (with rabbit stuff) and the vermiculite would work? We are going to buy some worms, for a lil extra oomph.
Will the mushroom composte/rabbit poo work as the blended composte?
We have tons of leaves in the woods, I was thinking of adding these around the plants.
I was flipping a little, thinking vermiculite was perilite. Phew! I was thinking $7 ish for a little bag X's how many bags in that area? :shock:
Vermiculite is not nearly as expensive.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 1:46 pm 
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NoAm wrote:
Shaper wrote:
Honestly, it's hard to say without a soil test, BUT if you believe your top soil to be viable, you can do a damn near 50/50 mix with a complete compost. If the soil doesn't drain well (or drains too well), the pH is jacked, or it is barren, etc., then obviously you have to find other top soil, amend what you have, or do the expensive mix of Peat/Vermiculite. There are fixes to all of those issues as well, but I don't want to complicate the issue just yet, lol.

With the size of your raised beds, you have to think more like permanent garden soil, and less like a potting soil which really has to be replaced or reconditioned as it is used for proper performance. In your instance, you will be ramping up the fertility of the soil each year with your soil amendments, your compost teas, your cover crops, your mulches, your inoculates, your worms etc. (It is in these practices were the "magic" happens) So, right now you don't have to sweat the small stuff.

I would first try a small batch of good screened top soil (either yours, or procured) and do a 5-6 gallon test batch of 50% topsoil and 50% mushroom compost/rabbit poo. Check consistency, clumping, drainage, and pH. I would be willing to say you would be damn close, if not there at that point. If it is still a bit off, the results will pretty much tell you what you need to add then and there. (i.e. lime/dolomite, sand, hummus, etc.)


Thanks Again Shaper! Our soil is pretty much red clay CONCRETE. :(
So a scoop of topsoil, a scoop of mushroom composte (with rabbit stuff) and the vermiculite would work? We are going to buy some worms, for a lil extra oomph.
Will the mushroom composte/rabbit poo work as the blended composte?
We have tons of leaves in the woods, I was thinking of adding these around the plants.
I was flipping a little, thinking vermiculite was perilite. Phew! I was thinking $7 ish for a little bag X's how many bags in that area? :shock:
Vermiculite is not nearly as expensive.


You won't even need the vermiculite unless, after you combine the top soil and mushroom mix, the soil is still clumping because of too much clay or if the soil is too sandy causing it to drain too fast and not holding water well. Most mushroom compost will be plenty balanced for each of those problems. Not to mention, a raised bed, by its own design, rarely has drainage problems anyway.

Will it hurt to add it beforehand? No, not really in most cases, but I personally would save the extra money until I knew it was needed. Vermiculite, in and of itself, doesn't MAKE better soil, it only affects the particle relation and consistency...and then there is that whole "asbestos" thing.

ETA: My personal opinion? (grain of salt time) ...It is a sub-par soil additive that doesn't do anything a cheaper, safer, naturally occurring, and sustainable alternative can do, and do better.

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