Part two of new raised bed adventures

The day has arrived!

Soil has come!

Holy crap I am tired.

That is a huddle of twelve bags of soil. Boy howdy was that a trip. Never been happier my dad has a Subaru. Not sure how I’d have gotten it home otherwise. I got some… other things at the local garden center but they’re another post.

First step was lining the already cardboard lined beds with newspaper…

Second step was dirt. So much dirt. I added some worm casings in to help it absorb water- important since some of these beds will in a few weeks hold cucumbers and zucchini.

There are the other two new beds- being watched over by the plastic owl guardian.

I have so many seedlings growing so it’s nice that the space is finally here for growing.

I’ll grow more beans in the backs of two of these beds, zucchini in one, and cucumbers in another. It’s all a matter of staggering my growing so that I’ll have harvests all through summer and fall though, so I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of these beds are empty for a few months. At least I’ve gotten it done.

I am so tired.

Part one of new raised bed adventures

It was dry today, and it will be dry tomorrow. Then a bit more rain- then dry for a while. It’s the first good break in the weather so I’m taking advantage of it.

The first step is mowing everything I can get my mower on.

Under the greenhouse was a priority, but the most important place to mow and weed was the areas where I’m going to put my new beds.

Up here against the fence needed some work, including a lot of hand weeding.

Over here needed work too. I filled the compost bin almost halfway full before I was done.

Then I figured- I don’t have the soil yet, but won’t it be easier if I set up the new beds now?

Mallet time.

I ordered these two new beds over a month ago expected to be sent two smaller boxes. Instead to save money they bundled up both beds in two boxes which makes sense but made the package incredibly heavy. Wrestling it outside was very fun.

Luckily before I ordered anything I measured the areas well, so I knew for a fact the beds would fit in their new homes.

They still need straightening out, and tomorrow I’m going to dig out the remaining weeds and lay down some newspaper for weed prevention. Then it’s just a matter of covering both new beds with a tarp to protect them from the rain. Don’t want my new beds turning into swimming pools.

Then next week I’ll finally be getting the soil to fill the beds.

This was a lot of work, but better to break it up. I know from experience lifting multiple bags of soil first from the car to the back, then from where I set them to the beds is a CrossFit level of activity, so doing this now means in a week I’ll only have to do that, and I’ll be free to collapse afterwords.

I am very tired.

Organization will set you free- or making the side shed of doom less doom-y

Against the east wall of my garden is a little half shed that holds soil and other things.

The problem is the other things really- including rusted tools, an old chimney starter, broken buckets and spiders.

So. Many. Spiders.

This morning was actually clear, as the latest rain storm won’t start til tonight, and I though maybe I could tackle the side shed.

Note to self: I have to eventually tackle the main shed too- but that’ll take a few days so I’ve tabled it for now.

Here’s how it looks now that it isn’t full to bursting with things I don’t need. I moved the old charcoal and grilling stuff to the main shed, and I recycled the old rusted tools. I actually found some good stuff that I’m totally gonna use- it just didn’t belong in this shed.

All the various pots and old vases I can use as pots are now living under the work table so they don’t fill up with water and become mosquito factories. I found three old plastic pots of a good size that mom bought years ago that were well preserved in the shed- I have plans for them!

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The stake graveyard next to the shed got a good weeding, and I’ve made an inventory of my stakes in preparation for April. Not pictured on the other side of the green bin is a few old rusted tomato cages that I’m gonna try to restore in time for them to be useful. I actually have a fair amount of stakes- the problem is what I need for my beans is trellises… I have some thinking to do.

Mind you the Gerry-rigged system I used last year with stakes and netting was good, just not very reusable.

On the left side of the shed is fertilizers and mulches now neatly arraigned in a shed that has been swept of cobwebs-

So. Many. Cobwebs.

And on the right side is my various soils, including a full bag of worm casings and seed starter I didn’t even know I had!

This is why I have to stay organized!

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I did a light weeding around the shade herbs next to the bench- but I don’t know why I bothered, it’s just going to pour for 4 days.

I have a crazy idea for this area though- I might grow blackberries against the fence!

Nice perennial plant that grows wild in my area, and the vertical growth will save me room. I’m eyeing my dad’s old scrap wood pile to see if I can cobble together a bed against the concrete with some elbow grease- but it’ll be a while before I can do anything like that. But still…

At least I know for a fact blackberries will grow here- walking home from school as a kid I’d pick and eat them as they grew on an outcropping a few streets down from me. I’m still pretty nervous about my future cucumbers and how they’ll do in this climate- but blackberries are a no brainer!

Gotta batten down the hatches now. Storm’s coming.

A vain attempt to save the tomato from the downpour (UPDATE)

I have tied an umbrella to the tomato cage.

I’m not sure this will work to save the tomato plant from drowning but I had to do something.

It is also one of the silliest thing I’ve ever done.

Bonus:

The mole pepper started falling over in the rain so I staked it up so it wasn’t listing so badly.

I’m worried that the pots are just going to get saturated- and they’re isn’t much I can do about that.

Peppers are famously resilient and famously weedy so I’m less worried about them then the tomato.

Still a little worried though.

San Francisco! Torrential downpour or drought! No in-between!

(UPDATE):

Umbrella fell over so I re-tied it to the cage and then I got ambitious and tried to tie up the fallen bits to a stake in the ground

Nothing like macgyvering in a downpour!

The new carrot bed is here!

This was a long time in the making but I’m super happy about it.

I’ve been having such a great time with the few carrots I’ve grown in pots. So I bought another 2′ by 4′ raised bed, and I found the perfect place for it.

Plenty of space between the lemon tree and the greenhouse bench! And it’s a shadier spot which is good- too much direct sun isn’t so great for carrots.

All you need for assembly is a mallet! Easy peasy!

Once assembled I took Nancy Palmer’s advice and put a layer of wet newspaper down to help control weeds without the horrible hassle of weed barrier. (Thank you very much for the advice Nancy!)

Then it was just a matter of filling the darn thing and planting in it!

I chose three varieties of carrot that I like.

The Kuroda are great long varieties while the red cored Chantenay are nice and plump- and the carnival blend is just fun.

Rainbow carrots!

Anyways carrots are actually kinda tricky to grow from seed, so I had to be really careful planting them. First I scattered more seed then I thought I needed in the bed, divided in three areas, maybe a third of each packet. Then you’re supposed to press the seed lightly into the ground and water well.

Problem is- it’s a lot of seed so pressing it all in is more work and bother then I’m willing to do- so instead I scattered a little more potting soil over the top- just a few cup fills after I watered well- then I watered well again.

The reason to do it like this is so the dry soil on top is a different color of the wet soil beneath so it’s easy to tell when you’ve scattered on enough.

The real tricky bit is that carrots don’t sprout for like three weeks plus and they won’t sprout at all if they aren’t nice and moist. Some people cover their carrots while they’re in their sprouting phase but since this bed is in a shady spot I think it’ll be ok.

The other tricky bit is that you have to over-sow and then thin- if they’re too spread apart they won’t grow right- but once they’re bigger if they aren’t thinned far enough apart they’ll grow all scrunched. Carrots are a paradox!

Carrots fresh from your garden are so good- and you can basically grow them everywhere. As long as it isn’t baking or freezing- it’s carrot season.

The smallest little strip of land can support carrots- pots too. You don’t have to buy your soil either- just work your own ground well.

It’ll be a while til I have these carrots, but the ground is the perfect storage medium for a root veggie, just pull what you you need when, and let the ground keep the rest fresh til you need it. There’s a reason carrots are such a staple food in multiple cultures.

Grow carrots! It’s a little bit of effort for not much money and your reward is delicious crisp carrots!

New raised bed

*slams fists on desk*

New bed! New bed! New bed!

Ok- so like a month ago the cedar raised bed kit I like went on sale and I grabbed it up knowing I was planning a few more.

It’s a pretty basic design- 4 corner pieces, 6 short pieces, 6 long pieces. There’s also 4 little caps for the tops and nails or screws to fix the little caps to the tops of the corner pieces. Now- I don’t use those. I like the idea that if I had to disassemble them I could, so I just recycle the wood caps. (And save the screws/nails, never know when you’ll need some.)

The only tool you need to put this type of raised bed together is a mallet.

Pictured: one mallet.

Now the instructions say you can do this with your hands. I call bullshit. I’ve put 4 of these types of beds together at this point- two 4×4, one 2×4 like the one I put in today, and the 2×8 that housed the beans. And because these are on the cheap side- the wood isn’t always cut exactly so… you’re gonna want a mallet.

I also recommend some kind of sturdy garden glove- because as you can see by this picture the wood is a little splinter-y. This one actually came together real easy. As I was putting it together I was thinking- huh, probably didn’t need a mallet. Another quirk of this kind of bed is-

Well the boards aren’t always totally straight. But honestly it’s going against the wall so who cares if it’s a little bulge-y. For what I’d paid… I’ll take it. I like these cedar numbers because cedar wood repels certain kinds of bugs and nasties. Just a little added help if, like me, you don’t use the big gun pesticides.

Boom!

Before I can put it together against the wall, I had to weed and level the area. At this time of year the weeds aren’t too bad, but whatever you can get rid of makes for less work down the road. I also leveled it by using a shovel and weirdly, a long handled ice scraper?!?! I found it in the shed of doom. (WTF dad, why the heck do you have a long handled ice scraper?) it honestly made for good leveling so…

In a perfect world I’d put pavers or stones down under the bed for a weed free raised bed. Instead I use weed barrier.

Completely optional. If I didn’t have a leftover roll of it- I honestly wouldn’t use it. My number one advice about weed barrier is to not use the staples some people do to fully secure the weed barrier. I did on one of the old beds I put down- and when I ripped it up, I missed a few of the staples and my dog nearly ate a few. It’s just unnecessary and it can easily become a problem.

Three bags of soil filled it- my trick is to shake some basic granulated fertilizer after the first bag- EB stones is good, but whatever works- then put the other bags down. Once my spinach sprouts it’s getting put in here!

By the way- you totally don’t have to buy a specialized raised bed like I do. You got some wood and nails? Make your own! You got a few boxes? Line it with some garbage bags and fill it with dirt! Raised beds can be complicated- or very simple.

This one is in a good slightly shaded spot perfect for spinach which isn’t the biggest fan of tons of sun.

Not that that’s a problem right now.

Pictured: my feelings about the weather.

New greenhouse bench and sowing some seeds!

My big week of garden construction before university starts up again, has really kicked off! I’m starting with my greenhouse bench.

I actually have a really nice greenhouse waiting to be put together in the shed of doom.

The problem is- I got it like 3 years ago and never set it up, and dad made a really good point about anything that tall being an earthquake risk- so we’re going to brainstorm this winter about best practices before we set up the big one. And it will be *we*. Problem is- the big one is big enough that I seriously doubt I could put it together myself. So since dads not up for it right now- the little one will do. Also, there are a ton of logistics. Do we level the ground and put pavers down? Do we secure it somehow to the fence? To the brick?

Anyways- I have seedlings to start in gloomy weather- so it’s construction time!

Luckily for me putting together furniture/shelving is my idea of a good time. More than half of the stuff in the house was put together by me. I put together my first big piece of furniture when I was 8! It was an entertainment center for one of the old square TVs. Dad was all set for us to do it together, but when he realized how good I was at it and how much fun I was having, he just kicked back and watched me put together a piece of furniture taller than I was. He knew a good thing when he saw it.

So armed with a screwdriver and opposable thumbs- I got to work.

Ta-da!

All I need is some seedlings! So I got out my seed start and my bio-degradable pots and got to work!

Swiss chard, romaine and the “alrite” Japanese spinach.

Here they are in their new home.

Everyone’s favorite plastic owl is on guard! And hopefully by the time the seeds sprout I’ll have the new bed laid out for some of them.

Honestly a lot of vegetable gardening in this sort of completely unpredictable climate is making the best of not great situations. Like the tomato plant is inexplicably still alive- though I doubt I’ll get more than 6 or 7 tomatoes. The peppers are inexplicably still producing, though how good the peppers will be in a month is also sort of up in the air. The fava beans remain the scariest thing in the garden. My herbs keep on trucking. I’m sad the zucchini died- but, it is what it is.

The fall/winter season has officially started!

If we have a late season heat wave I’m going to scream