Monday, September 28, 2009

Raised Bed Report

This year about half our vegetable plantings were made on raised beds. In April and May we thought that was necessary to get the root zone above the water table. Upon reflection, I thing we were mostly wrong in that belief. The soil was very 'cloddy' and full of grass roots. It did not work down well on those raised beds. The seeds did not get good contact with the soil and germination was low.

By July, the water table had dropped a couple of feet and the plants on the raised beds could not reach the water. the grass also grew prolifically on the slopes of the raised beds and had to be dealt with by hand because the rototiller wouldn't run at that angle.

In retrospect, I believe that when dealing with a quarter-acre of garden, it is better to plant most crops in rows on grade. If one must wait until June for the soil to be dry enough to do that, then wait. This flies in the face of the conventional beliefs that raised beds are better. But I put more credibility on experience than belief.

The crops that we did plant at grade level did very well. Black plastic work well to control weeds (and grass) for the pumpkins (as well as raise the soil temperature.) Crops like corn and beans could be cultivated much more easily with the rototiller than by hand.

Next year: fewer raised beds.


We've gotten several dozen cucumbers from the four vines that survived to maturity. The seed did not germinate well and the plants seemed to take forever to start growing. When they did grow they produced a bumper crop. Next summer we will concentrate on better soil preparation and fertilizing for cucumbers. I was able to can 4 quarts of dill spears and 4 pints of dill slices.

Lots of Corn

The corn is ready. I picked 50 ears Saturday for a five-course, local organic dinner we put on for about 30 friends. I'd estimate there are another 100 ears ready to pick. That should be enough for the two of for the winter, although it is a bit less than I was hoping to get. We'll definitely grow corn next year.