My System
For Planting Raised Beds

Dateline: 7 May 2015
(click pictures to see larger views)


This blog post is the third in a three-part series about raised garden beds. The first post explained my Step-By-Step Way of Making Simple Raised Garden Beds. The second post showed a Novel New Way To Secure Plastic Mulch Over And Next To Garden Beds. Now it's time to take a look at one technique I use for planting in the raised beds. This next picture shows the already formed example beds in my garden. They are ready to plant...


I am going to plant three rows of spinach in the 30" wide bed. I should have planted four rows. That's what Jean-Martin Fortier does in his 30" wide beds. Next time I will plant four rows. I mark out the rows with a stake at each end and a string line, starting with the center row...


With the string line in place as a guide, I then use my homemade furrow compressor to compress the soil in the row, as you can see in the next picture. This furrow compressor is discussed on page 84 of my Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners.


Seeds planted in a compressed furrow will get off to a better start because the compressed soil will allow capillary flow of subsoil moisture to reach the seeds. If I scratched a furrow in the soil, the seeds would not have good access to subsoil moisture until the soil in the bed naturally settled over time.


These compressed furrow rows are fairly deep because the soil was particularly soft. Please note in this next picture that I do not tie the string line to the stake on both ends. One end is held with a small spring clamp. If I had to tie and untie the line every time I stretched it between the stakes, it would be  more tedious and time consuming.


This bed will be planted with Space spinach from Johnny's. I have planted Space before and it grows well of me...


I pour some spinach seeds into the palm of my left hand....


Look closely in this next picture and you will see the seeds in the bottom of the furrow. I take pinches of seeds with my right forefinger and thumb, and plant them fairly thickly in the furrow...


Because the furrow is deeper than needed for spinach seeds, I don't fill it completely. I simply pull a little soil from the edges over the seeds...


Once the seeds are covered, I take the furrow compressor and firm the soil down along the furrow...


Then I water the planted seeds. I do not water the entire bed. Were I to do that, I would be watering all the weed seeds in the bed. The weed seeds will eventually sprout and grow but that eventuality will be delayed by lack of water from above and below (capillary subsoil moisture). Also, seeds do not sprout and grow so readily in the soil that is still light and fluffy.


This next picture shows three planted and watered rows in the bed...


And, finally, I label the bed, including the date of planting...


This next picture shows the same bed of spinach a couple weeks after planting. Just before snapping the picture, I cultivated the bed, using a Whizbang Pocket Cultivator. There were no visible weeds in the bed but there were a few sprouted weed seeds under the surface. The Whizbang Pocket Cultivator is my hands-down favorite tool for keeping my garden beds free of weeds. I tell how to make your own pocket cultivator on page 69 of my Garden Idea Book.


And here is a close up of the beautiful spinach seedlings...



Onion Addendum...

Several people who have seen my onion beds in My YouTube Videos have commented on the size and vitality of the onions. Onions grow very well for me and I plant them in the beds much the same as I plant spinach seeds, using the furrow compressor and three rows, as this next picture shows...



I plant Copra onions and get the sets from Dixondale Farms. Copra is a remarkable onion. It tastes great and the cured onions keep very well through the winter into spring. My wife says I should grow 365 onions—one for each day of the year. So I grow three beds with around 120 onions in each. Close enough. They are planted 4.25" apart in the rows. 


This next picture shows the Copra onions part way through the season, before they start to get really big. I cultivate and weed the beds a few times through the season. Again, my favorite tool for this is my homemade pocket cultivator. If the weeds get ahead of me, I pick them by hand (but I rarely let them get ahead of me).


This next picture shows a homemade Whizbang garden tote with some Copra onions. Directions for making the tote are on page 37 of my Garden Idea Book.







8 comments:

Cynthia (C.L) Lewis said...

What a beautiful, neat, tidy, weed-free garden. I am in love with it!

W. said...

You don't water the furrows before seeding, like you do carrots?

Herrick Kimball said...

W—
Good observation. I often do that but did not in this instance. I don't have a reason why not. But I did pre-watered the onion rows shown above. And yesterday afternoon I pre-watered the indents I made for parsnip seeds planted (like the carrots) under shade discs.

Cynthia—
Thanks.

vdeal said...

Herrick,

Thank you for pointing out the advantages of using the row compressor for seeds other than carrots. I shall do that from now on. Hope your parsnips take off - they're hard to start also. No parsnips for me this year but my salsify is doing fine.

Herrick Kimball said...

Vdeal—
Parsnips are a first for me in the garden. I understand they are very slow to germinate but am hoping the shade discs will make a big difference in germination time. Salsify is something I've not yet grown, or eaten. How do you cook it, or otherwise eat it?

Anonymous said...

Any good tips on planting and growing carrots. Every year I plant carrots and every year I get
a handful of carrots. Last year I got 20 from my fall planting. My husband told me to just give up and buy from the store.

I love your raised beds and your onions are soooo pretty!!!

Sue

W. said...

Sue, do a search on Herrick's 4 day carrot youtube video.

vdeal said...

Herrick,

Salsify is also called oyster plant. Along with the similar scorzonera they can be cooked and mashed into patties or made into a mock oyster stew which tastes remarkably similar to oysters. I've had them since I was a kid many years ago. Not grown by a lot of folks. Parsnips are a bit bitter to me but I've got some in the freezer I need to cook up sometime. Good luck and I think your shade discs will work since carrots and parsnips are closely related (along with parsley).