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Greetings from Pennsylvania

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Greetings from Pennsylvania

Post  AnnaK on 5/18/2010, 11:16 pm

We've had our raised-bed garden for about 15 years. It's about 100 sf in a long rectangle which is made of cinder blocks. We covered the weedy ground with heavy duty landscape fabric, set up the blocks, and filled it initially with a mix of mushroom soil and screened topsoil. While the fabric has done an excellent job of killing the weeds and none grew through and into the garden bed, the soil mix was full of weeds which we've been fighting year after year.

Year before last after we were done harvesting we covered the entire area with black fabric and let the garden lay fallow for all of 2009. The theory was that the soil would get so hot that all existing weed seeds would be killed. This did turn out to be true.

Early this spring we removed about 5 inches of soil, screened it, picked out very many grubs, mixed it with peat and vermiculite in a 1:1:1 ratio, put it back in the bed, and last week I put in beans, beets and cucumber seeds.

Amazingly, the cucumbers and beets are already sprouting! The beans are waiting for warmer weather—as are we!

This is our first year with Mel's Mix, or at least our somewhat modified version of it. I found it very easy to plant, very soft, no clumps, and it's a joy to keep damp with our drip irrigation lines. The quick sprouting despite the rain and unseasonably cool temps are a testimony to how beneficial this growing medium is to vegetable seeds.

I look forward to reading here and learning new gardening things.

Anna

ETA: The cinder blocks are set so the holes are available for planting. In them I put marigolds, onions (I've produced square onions in the past—funny looking but really easy to slice!), dill and mints and other herbs which have a way of seeding out. This border does a nice job of keeping bugs at bay.
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AnnaK

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Re: Greetings from Pennsylvania

Post  WardinWake on 5/19/2010, 7:26 am

[quote="AnnaK"]We've had our raised-bed garden for about 15 years.

Anna:

Welcome to the Square Foot Gardening forum and family. It looks like you have a wonderful garden planted and ready to go. You have more experience with raised bed gardens then many people on the forum and I hope you will post of your experiences and answer questions that others have. If you have questions please ask them. Also check out the regional forums at the bottom of the page on the opening screen of the forum.

God Bless and again


Ward and Mary.
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WardinWake

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Re: Greetings from Pennsylvania

Post  AnnaK on 5/19/2010, 8:24 am

Thank you for the warm welcome!

I'll be happy to share my experiences with raised-bed gardening and answer questions when I'm able to though there's much I don't know about gardening and growing things and I'm looking forward to learning from everyone here.

AnnaK
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AnnaK

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Re: Greetings from Pennsylvania

Post  junequilt on 5/19/2010, 12:28 pm

AnnaK, I see that you are in eastern PA -- I grew up in NJ, went to summer camp in Dingman's Ferry, and lived for a while in Lambertville, just across the river from New Hope. It's such a great area for gardening and wildlife. Welcome to the Forum!

Are you using soaker hose or actual drip lines? I'm trying to decide if I want to install irrigation in my new beds.
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Re: Greetings from Pennsylvania

Post  AnnaK on 5/19/2010, 1:02 pm

Hi Junequilt,

Boy! You know the choice spots in this part of Pennsylvania. Dingman's Ferry and New Hope are great places whether you're a kid or a grownup. Thank you for the welcome message.

We us actual drip lines and a Rainbird timer. We buy the lines and seasonal replacement parts and/or additions from http://www.dripworksusa.com/. Those folks have been very helpful in assisting us with layout and supplies. To the standpipe we attach a brass multi-outlet valve which allows us to attach two different drip line setups, the timer, and still have a hose available for filling the pool and all the other stuff you need a hose for.

We adjust the timer depending on the stage of the garden. Once the seeds are in we keep it more moist until they sprout. Then we reduce the run time for a bit until it gets hot outside at which point we crank it back up. This is all done by feel. If the soil feels right, and by that I mean, it feels the same way it would if I were watering by hand, all is well. If it doesn't feel right, we change the drip time.

The system comes on very early in the morning, before sunrise, and runs for X number of hours, all depending on temperature and the stage of growth. It takes a little fiddling with the initial installation but once it's done, it's done. I have three long rows in my bed and run the lines inside the rows. The second system waters the holes in the cinderblocks. This year we'll install a third system to water the pots in which we grow cucumbers on trellises.

Drip irrigation is fantastic! Sort of "set it and forget it". We go away on two week camping vacations without having to worry about the garden or hire a water boy (or girl). It provides constant moisture and uses very little water. There's no overspray, no loss of water, something that matters to us since we're on a well.

We tried the soaker hoses but got really tired of making the placement adjustments, and the amount of water never seemed to be right.

Anna
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Re: Greetings from Pennsylvania

Post  junequilt on 5/19/2010, 5:07 pm

Wow, thanks for all the info! I haven't used a system like this in years, and gave up on them because I could never find replacement parts -- none of the retail stores sold the same brand two years in a row, and the parts they did carry weren't interchangeable. But if Dripworks is reliable, that would be wonderful! No one down here in SC wants to say the D-word because that would make it too real -- I'm sure you understand -- but I fear we are heading into _rought conditions again, so we've got to be prepared.
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Re: Greetings from Pennsylvania

Post  AnnaK on 5/19/2010, 6:14 pm

Take a look at the Dripworks site. We bought our original lines from them 8 years ago and are still getting replacement plugs and fittings. Supplies have not been a problem at all.

I can definitely relate to your D-word concerns. That's another reason we like the drip irrigation: the water usage is minimal.

AnnaK
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