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General Tips & Tricks

Nov 19, 2010

I notice that we have a Bee Keeping Tips & Tricks section, but we don,t have one for general Kitchen Gardening.

So this is it. Any ideas that you have or things you do that may be of interest, then add them here.


Above is a photo of one of the two 8' x 4' raised beds that i have at the bottom of my garden. In the photo are two boards. The one on the right is a step over board or more accurately a step onto board to give access to the centre of the bed without stepping onto the soil.The board that i want to highlight though is the one on the left. This is a small board with two notches cut out of each end. This allows you to turn some new compost into the bed and then draw the board over the top of the soil to give a smooth surface for seed sowing or planting. It also allows you to put the plants in a straight line along the edge of the board. You could also paint the board in 4" stripes to give the equal centres for planting at.What is not shown in the photo and the reason that i started this blog, is something that i read about recently in a 30 year old book. They had cut an old piece of broom handle to four feet long, the width of the bed. Broom handle being about 1" in diameter. They laid the broom handle on the soil across the bed and stood on it, to push it into the soil. When the broom handle was lifted out of the way they were left with the perfect drill for sowing seeds into. Brilliant!!!! You may notice what is wrong in this picture. The 2" timber pegs holding the corners of the bed together and to the ground, should always be on the outside of the bed i think. They just get in the way when they are on the inside like i have them.
God's in the details! I love your scree-board idea! I keep looking at a level, gravelly, empty city lot across the paved lane from my office - we have alleys in the old town. It is unlikely to be developed any time soon & fronts right on the business district - high visibility! It is the perfect spot to contract for at no expense & build a demonstration garden of raised beds where the gardenless can see different kinds of edged garden beds, pick what they'd like installed & ask, "How much?" With a specific example to start with you can quantify easily & modify for their installation. We could employ some nice gardeners that way in this resort area. I can see your scree-board with longer extending "handles" so that two gardeners could walk beside a raised bed, one on each side, leveling the beds for planting. Extra sweet - the lot is right next to a cottage day care center for young children. I'm thinking of a gate ... When installing perennial gardens I designed - they often had a wall at the back of a deep bed. I used to have 4'x8'x1/4" grade plywood cut in halves & quarters to walk & kneel on in the bed, with tools alongside for planting. These were lightweight enough to handle easily & several could be used together. They spread my weight enough to avoid soil-compression problems. I have good photos of this practice in print form & a congenial place to use a good scanner. Now for the time! How do you water the bed pictured? How wonderful your composty soil looks!
Hi Jessica I water the two raised beds in my garden with water pumped from rainwater catchment tanks that are located under my greenhouse. Although there is quite a lot of rain in England we do have periods of drought when hosepipe bans are set in place. Having your own water supply overcomes these problems. The soil looks nice and black as i have just forked in some of the free community compost that is now available to York residents. This is really well made, reaching high temperatures and is mechanically seived so it is nice and uniform in texture. It is available for collection on the first Sunday of every month through the summer and is ideal for filling raised beds. It is made from all the green waste that is collected from houses throughout the city. I would recommed everyone to investigate if free community compost is available in their area. The optimum word being FREE. Regards Glenn
We like to grow climbing legumes and have started using a moveable A Frame on our raised boxes for these. Our boxes are mostly about 4x6 feet so we built an A frame to fit this dimension and attached metal brackets an the bottom so we could attach and detach to move the frame as needed. Then we string the frame with jute twine first placing the vertical rows, later adding the horizontal rows as needed depending of the needs of the plants. We move the frame to a different box every year to rotate crops and fix nitrogen in our beds. I can't take credit for the idea, it was my husband's (I think he's pretty brilliant). I should note that the lumber used here isn't anything fancy. Its Pine that has been treated with boiled linseed oil. No paint or varnish and the frame is going strong into its 4th season. I believe the original construction cost about $25 for supplies and we put it together with basic tools. This photo has Fava beans in the foreground which took off much earlier than the peas this year, in fact, we had 2 plantings of Favas. This photo is from 2 years ago when I grew 2 varieties of peas side by side. The sugar snap variety ( I think from Seeds of Change?) is the side growing like gangbusters. I apologize for the photo sizes, I can't figure out how to make them appear smaller in posts. -Johanna PS - this exchange was a good idea Glenn.
See group Photographs for resizing pics for widths 600, 500, 300, etc. Ex: w 300 w 600
Fava Bean Pods as teething toys! Let's see if this sizing works. (Thanks David).
Nice moveable A frame.Do you use "willow leaf butterbeans". I tried them this year, the stalks got bigger then a quarter. The bean stalk roots are as big as a pencil & 4-5 feet long.
I have not tried those before, but might this summer if you recommend them. Where do you source your seeds?
This is a older butterbean, at least 50 years. Some of these B.beans turn brown when cooked. It does not change the taste to me, but some of my brothers will not grow or eat them. I get my bean from only three catalogs, the willow leaf butterbean/ pole lima are from Vermont Bean Seed (800)349-1071. I gave many butterbeans away this year. I did not have an A frame like yours & will put one together this spring.
Hi Johanna I really like the 'A' frames. I will be making one over the winter. We call 'Fava beans' 'Broad Beans' i don,t know why. I always have trouble with them flopping over so your 'A' frame would be the perfect solution. I learn't last year that you can eat them in the pods if you pick the pods small enough [about 3" long]. Maybe you do that already. I would propose a couple of tweaks to the frame, like a hinged top for winter storage out of the weather and maybe metal mesh in lieu of string as i have some spare mesh to use up. I will post a picture when done. Regards Glenn
Hi Glenn, I've never eaten fava (aka broad) beans in the pods, mostly because they tend to coincide with sugar snap peas in my garden most of the time and we end up filling up on those, but might try it next spring. Also, do you know if there is any way to turn this thread into a discussion group? It seems like it might be useful to do so since the "blog" posts eventually are taken off of the main page. Maybe this is more of a question for the techies. -Johanna
Hi Johanna I don,t know if there is a way of converting this to a 'group'. I think in hindsight i should have started it as a group and not a blog. Its a bit difficult to know what title to put things under when you start off. I suppose i could start 'Tips and Tricks' again in tandem as a group. ie For a group of people who are interested in sharing any kitchen gardening tips and tricks that they know. What do you think. Glenn
Glenn, this reply is a test. I will try to transfer it to Group Preserving the Harvest, since I consider all of this information a harvest for me. Stay natural, David
I just copied this to my computer and pasted it to Preserving the Harvest and it worked. I would never transfer any posts but my own without the authors permission. I'll try to delete the test to see if it also deletes from the group. Let you know later.
Hi Glenn, I think a Group would be appropriate. It seems like it will be easier to access discussions in that format. I agree that it is sometimes hard to know where to post things at the start. I'm looking at what's already in this thread and thinking how helpful it will be to revisit the info in spring. Right now I'm looking out at more than 12 inches of snow, so not much immediate gardening to be done. -Johanna
Create a new Group. I personally prefer the grouping of like posts into a Group. Makes it easier for me to review information about a subject. Stay natural, David
This is a picture i found recently, taken on April 9th 2010, which was a nice sunny spring day . It shows one of my allotment deep beds. You might think i am a bit nuts about straight lines, but i think it helps growth if plant spacings are straight and even. I use a string line to mark the longitudinal centreline of the bed and an iron bar to mark the line of the potatoes across the bed. The distance between plants i mark with a stick. In this instance it is a piece of re-cycled pool cue. The positions of the planted potatoes are marked with a stone. You only need six. Of course i have a step over board to gain access to the middle of the bed without compressing the soil. Raised/deep beds don,t always need timber edging. This bed has edging on the farside but none on the nearside. The nearside edge of the bed is defined with re-cycled nylon banding tape. I don,t earth up my potatoes in the recommended manner. It just seems like a lot of work. If the spuds start appearing at the surface i mulch them with compost and comfrey leaves to stop them going green.

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