Root crops in raised beds (About gardening / Maria Iannotti)

Read at : “Marie Iannotti – About.com Gardening Guide” <gardening.guide@about.com>

About Gardening: What’s in a Name?

Gardening Tip of the Week : Root crops

Root crops do better planted in blocks, in raised beds. The soil is looser, so they can grow unimpeded. Raised beds warm up quicker, so you can get them in the ground during the cool weather they love. And you won’t be risk walking on them. A bonus is you don’t have to bend so far to thin them out.

Raised beds combined with containers for inside gardening (Willem)

Today, I received an interesting comment from Anne WALKER on my former posting :

Different aspects of rooftop gardening (Google Alert / Salt Lake Tribune) July 13, 2007

If a garden can be grown on a roof top, how about on the parking lot of an old abandoned strip mall. It is late in the season to start a garden, but we just received funding. We also have donated space in a building located in a strip mall. There is a fenced in area that I’d like to create a few raised beds and perhaps apply lasagne gardening in the beds. What do we do about drainage? How do we keep the soil and water from running out under the beds. Do we line with plastic? Help!!! This is a late summer youth project, funded in part from Community Block Grant and State arts funds.”

Here is my reply to her :

Dear Anne,

Thanks for contacting me and congratulations for your nice ideas.

Raised bed gardening offers a lot of opportunities to embellish our environment or to grow plants in any “difficult” place.

Let us first consider the outside parking lot (or is it inside ?). I see no problem to install raised beds there. Would a bit of water running out be a problem ? Then, I recommend to make the beds a bit higher (1-2 feet), to line the bottom up with a strong plastic sheet forming a shallow reservoir, to fill the bottom part of that reservoir (2-4 inches) with granules of expanded clay (also used in hydroponics) and to cover these granules with a good potting mix to which I would add some water stocking polymers or, even better, a soil conditioner like TerraCottem (see <http://www.terracottem.com&gt;).

About the raised beds inside the building : see above, as I cannot foresee any problems with water.

Let me now make another suggestion !

Why don’t you construct a raised bed and fill it up with containers (each of them perforated at its bottom for drainage). I am thinking at the classical plastic flower pots, but also at PET bottles or even big plastic party cups (use your imagination).

The raised bed should be constructed like the one described above : with plastic lining at the bottom, but without clay granules. The containers (pots, bottles or cups) can be put directly on the plastic sheet (in the so-called reservoir) and filled with a good potting mix (mixed with water stocking soil conditioner), then seeded or planted. Now all the containers are covered (mulched) with a thin layer of potting mix, so that one cannot see the containers anymore (only a nice layer of soil under which the containers are hidden). When watering such a raised bed, most of the water will be running into the containers and stocked in the polymers. A surplus of water, running through the containers or through the open spaces between the containers, will run into the plastic sheet reservoir and only a minimum will be kept for a short time on that plastic sheet (from where it will be gradually absorbed by the potting mix in the perforated containers).

I can imagine that after a while one would have to add a thin supplementary mulching layer of potting soil, for the soil will slide partly down into the open spaces between the individual containers.

I never did this before, but I can imagine that this would be quite successful. Worth trying, I think !

Please keep me informed and possibly send me some photos of your realization. I will gladly publish them on my blog.

Willem

Armchair Vegetable Gardening (Vegetable Grower)

Read at :

The Vegetable Grower

http://www.vegetable-garden-guide.com/The_Vegetable_Grower-the-vegetable-grower-april07.html

Armchair Vegetable Gardening

In the March newsletter I gave you some great reasons to create raised beds – all of mine are.

One of my mentors for raised bed gardening is Mel Bartholomew who has made this type of gardening almost an art form – he shows you how to get big harvests out of a small space. I thoroughly recommend his book – “All New Square Foot Gardening”

All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!

Small space vegetable gardens (Bestgardening)

Read at :

Bestgardening (see my Blogroll)

http://www.bestgardening.com/bgc/howto/vegecare02.htm

Small space vegetables 

As city gardens become ever smaller, garden space becomes more and more precious. Once the norm, space for growing vegetables may seem just a dream. Yet salads, tomatoes, and other vegetables are so much better straight from the garden. Young, tender vegetables are prized, and so much better when there are only minutes between the garden and the pot or salad bowl. The process, from garden to table, is enjoyable and one of anticipation. There are lots of ways to introduce vegetables into the garden, especially as we can become more innovative in how we grow our veges.

Tips for Small Space Vegetables
Concentrate on growing only those vegetables that benefit the most from being picked fresh and take up a small space. Don’t grow plants that take up lots of space, have a long growing season or you don’t love to eat!  Grow vegetables that are hard to find and not usually on the supermarket shelves, and select varieties for superior taste rather than crop size. Small is definitely beautiful in a tiny vegetable garden. The largest tomatoes are not necessarily the best tasting. Vegetables suitable for small spaces are generally harvested when young and tender. Thus the growing season is shorter and plants can be cycled through faster. Baby cauliflower, finger carrots, cherry tomatoes, spring onions, there are loads of suitable seeds on the market today. Grow fewer vegetables of each type. In a large garden we can grow 20 celery plants, in a small space garden you may want to grow only half a dozen, and in a balcony garden two or three plants will provide fresh stalks for cutting. In courtyards and against a warm wall you can often get planting long before the soil in a traditional garden has warmed enough for planting out and seed sowing.
Continue reading Small space vegetable gardens (Bestgardening)

Several methods for strawberry production (Tucson Gardener)

Read at :

The Tucson Gardener

http://www.tucsongardener.com/Year04/strawberryadventures.htm

The Strawberry Adventures

It’s easy to start new strawberry plants from the runners. Each small pot is the beginning of a new plant.

Last year’s impulse purchase of a dozen bare-root strawberry plants and two plastic grow bags turned into an adventure in search of a suitable method to grow strawberries in my garden. The plastic grow bags are long gone but the strawberry plants have multiplied and prospered. Whether it’s worth the few strawberries I picked this past spring is debatable but you can’t say I didn’t try several methods for strawberry production with varying degrees of success. Strawberry plants produce runners which in turn produce a plant at the end and then the new plant may send off another runner and so forth. The plants easily root whether it’s in the soil or small soil filled pots. The simplicity of strawberry plant propagation is what caused my troubles to begin. I rooted just about every plantlet I saw and by the end of last summer (2003) I had dozens and dozens of young strawberry plants. Continue reading Several methods for strawberry production (Tucson Gardener)