Thursday, February 13, 2014

Thinking Ahead to Spring


   In my neck of the woods, we are snowed in with ten inches of snow with a nice half inch of frozen rain enclosing the wet snow.  We're all here, and our smarter horses and livestock are spending the day in the stalls.   I'm tired of mucking, and shoveling and snow finding its way into my boots and so I thought I might look forward, just a bit to Spring.


                         If done correctly, a fair amount of fruit and vegetables can be grown in raised specially mixed soil.  The amount of yield using this method, for an entire season can be startling.

     This method boasts:

                  20% of the space
                  10% of the water
                    5% of the seeds
                    2% of the work
                 with none of the expected weeds !

                    I can't tell whether these are pressure treated lumber, but I suspect not.  In the American South or places where termites eat mailbox posts for lunch in two weeks, I suggest you use pressure treated lumber which can last beyond one growing season before being decimated.

 These pictures were generated by the Square Foot Gardening Foundation.   They also have some excellent pages in pdf form with directions as to how you can grow many important foods in a square foot format, even if the land you have available to do so is quite limited.  There are some pleasant surprises at the link below:

                     The Square Foot Gardening Foundation

   We may be smack dab in Winter and freezing in our boots, but Winter always gives way to Spring and then it's time to consider all the wonderful things we need to do in the sunnier seasons of our lives.


PioneerPreppy said...

Ya know I have never been a big proponent of raised beds but then again I don't really need to be as I live on very fertile soil. My main reasons against them were that when the numbers grew the actual work in soil prep grew exponentially. Raised beds mean you cannot run a tiller or plow on a tractor to work the soil up or spread it with larger trailers etc.

I still consider a mix of raised beds and regular soil the ideal however raised beds have one huge advantage for me. While the early Spring and Summer rains are coming down I can still weed them.

Yes it's time to plan and think for Spring cause I don;t think it's too far off. Well I hpe it isn;t anyway :)

JaneofVirginia said...

I have never done raised beds here on the farm. We have a vegetable garden area on the farm which is prepared by a tractor and then planted. The soil here is not great unless you are an oak, a pine, or a royal paulonia. Some years we have decent yields particularly in the fruit tree department, but often the drought and the heat make the cucumbers bitter, the carrots small, and some things simply never grow at all here, like rhubarb. (My haskap plant is simply still alive although it's mate is not) A raised bed might help me specially prepare a soil and the moisture needed for things I have not successfully grown on this property.
We did have a raised bed for strawberries in our suburban home and it continued to yield year after year. I am thinking about Spring, but the snow, sleet and cold don't seem to be cooperating ! Thanks for posting.

Linda said...

I live in the South where termites do love our wood. I made one raised bed with untreated wood. It lasted for 7 years before it fell apart. So, I would say 6 years. Even so, I would never raise food in treated wood frames. My treated picnic table caused everything under it to die. Even if I could coax food to live, what might absorb that would not be healthful for me.

Look up the video Back to Eden. You don't plow. You don't fertilize. You do not poison. You need a hoe. Water is conserved. The video is about 45 min to 1 hour long, so I watched and paused it about three times. Have you heard of this method?

Linda said...

I meant to say that I loved the pictures and wish I had a dozen of those raised bed.

JaneofVirginia said...

Pressure treated wood is treated with copper arsenate. In doses found in treated wood, the food within the raised bed should not be adversely affected. To be extra safe, you could avoid planting things like lettuce and spinach which does absorb items from the soil. However, if you use plain wood, the food you are growing does have exposure to termite excrement enzymes which might be worse.
I would not have the option of using anything untreated here. One year when we actually had a mailbox, the post was eaten in less than one year. Some areas have really severe termite issues and should be not only inspected annually, but treated for prevention also.
I have heard of Back to Eden. The soil here is clay and too solid to simply be hoed. Thanks for posting !

JaneofVirginia said...

I wish I had a ton of them also ! I may do a few this year. Two years ago, I set up window boxes for lots of varieties of lettuces. We had lettuce right to the Fall and I didn't buy any lettuce in the growing season at all. I think the best plans incorporate a number of strategies so that when something unexpected with the weather occurs, another modality continues to provide to you anyway. Thanks for your post.