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-   -   Preparing Raised Beds for Winter (http://www.diychatroom.com/f102/preparing-raised-beds-winter-188193/)

brockmiera 10-07-2013 12:38 PM

Preparing Raised Beds for Winter
 
So we had a pretty hard frost on Friday night and my plants have bitten the big one. At any rate this is the first year of harvest and I'm wondering what I need to to now to be ready for planting again in the spring.

I have noticed that the level of dirt has gone down in a couple of boxes. Do I add the dirt now or wait until Spring?

Any soil additives? Leaves, mulch, newspaper, grass clippings?

Any advice would be appreciated.

joecaption 10-07-2013 12:51 PM

Test the soil to see what it needs.
At the end of the year there's almost always, peat moss and fertilizers on sale.
I only use leaves, no clipping. Why add weed and grass seeds?

Live_Oak 10-07-2013 01:04 PM

Yes, test your soil. I usually dump fall leaves and let them rot down over the winter. You probably don't have warm enough temperatures for the microbial activity to break them down though. Although, if you covered the beds with black plastic to capture the heat of the sun, you might be able to get them to break down.

I also like to grow a winter crop of spinach here. You can get it through several frosts and even a good freeze with a rowcover and/or making a small PVC hoophouse on top of the bed. The PVC hoophouse also lets you get a head start in the spring for tender veggies.

brockmiera 10-07-2013 01:07 PM

Yeah that makes sense about the grass clippings. I'll start rounding up some leaves. I dont have a whole lot falling right now. It was an odd frost. Pretty early for Denver. We are back up into the 80's today and the rest of the week. I might do some winter crops too. I haven't really given it much thought.

I've read a bit about cover crops. Any one have any experience with them?

djlandkpl 10-07-2013 01:49 PM

You might want to look into frost blankets. I have some that will keep plants alive down to 28 degrees. Very useful for the oddball frosts and even snow.

gobug 10-16-2013 09:04 AM

As an old guy CO native and long time gardener in raised boxes I will add some advice to what others have suggested.

First, testing the soil is not so easy. You probably have many different soils throughout your garden. One test may not indicate what you need. You can buy good DIY test kits at good garden centers, but if you really want an accurate evaluation of the soil(a lot more than just pH and NPK) , you should consider sending a sample to a good company. While it is not cheap, it will tell you a lot more about the condition of your soil. It seems to me that many new gardeners will test the soil then add things to modify it. Those things may not be the best things to add to the soil. A couple years of gardening will tell you a lot more, especially if you keep daily notes of what you did and saw.

Second, don't think the garden is done for the year. My garden in SW Denver has gone through the same weather as you. The tomatoes, peppers, squash, cukes, nasturtiums, shiso, etc. have all begun to pass this last week. But there are still many things doing fine (brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, parsley, carrots, beets....) and I have several new things emerging(mustard, shingiku, peas, onion...). I am getting ready to plant many cold hardy greens. Boxes are good for making a winter cold frame and it will produce some edibles even in Jan/Feb.

Third, make a compost bin. Just about anything can go in there. I don't use grass clippings unless I know the grass has not been treated with anything. If you just mix the pile once in awhile, it will make great soil for your boxes in about a year. I also suggest that you let your garden go to flower, and leave the roots in the dirt. Don't till. There is a whole world of things that coexist in your soil. Pulling things out by the roots destroys some of that culture. Worms, pill bugs, centipedes, and many other critters are good signs of healthy soil.

I hope to complete a couple hoops to hold a Remay fabric over the soil of 2 boxes. Remay has many different fabrics with different heat retentions. I have done that previously, but this garden is still developing and I am now ready to do that after I finish my flagstone patio and garden pathways (this weekend).

Nice to meet (online) another CO gardener.
Gary

brockmiera 10-16-2013 10:23 AM

The dirt in my boxes I got at Santa fe sand and gravel. I used 1/2 yard 3way compost and 1/2 yard planters mix.

I talked to a gardener last weekend that suggested I fill the remaining space in my box with the 3 way and leave it for spring. I dont think I'll be planting any winter crops. Too many other things to do with finishing the basement. I still have carrots going but thats it.

What are your thoughts on just adding the 3 way compost?

gobug 10-16-2013 11:23 AM

I also bought soil for my boxes from Santa Fe Sand and Gravel. I got only 3 way. I think you can just add either or both to your boxes. Describe your boxes please: how big, how deep, made of what, and how many. How do you irrigate?

I had a tree company remove 2 old maple trees (~50yrs old). My major effort was removing grass and tree roots from the soil. I used the stump grindings for my garden pathways. It interested me that I have never seen mushrooms grow in this yard in the 50+ years my Mom has lived there. Now they are a regular volunteer all over the garden. I covered the pathways with a weed barrier before I put the grindings on top. Now my weeds are almost all from the box plants that I let go to seed. It is good to be able to just eat the "weeds".

The flagstone patio is where the other maple tree was. I had to dig down to make the base for the flagstone. That dirt I just put into one of the boxes that needed some dirt. That is one place where all kinds of edible things are now about 3inches high.

creeper 10-16-2013 08:00 PM

" I also suggest that you let your garden go to flower, and leave the roots in the dirt. Don't till. There is a whole world of things that coexist in your soil. Pulling things out by the roots destroys some of that culture. Worms, pill bugs, centipedes, and many other critters are good signs of healthy soil. " :thumbsup::thumbsup:

I like to make a pit in the center of the garden and throw all the garden waste in there. Cover it over with an inch or two of soil. As stated it doesn't break down in sub zero temps but if you just leave it undisturbed in the early spring it will soon enough. Composting in place:)

I'm one of those gardeners who doesn't believe in tilling the soil ..too much...just a gentle loosing the weeds for easy pulling

brockmiera 10-21-2013 05:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by gobug (Post 1254192)
I also bought soil for my boxes from Santa Fe Sand and Gravel. I got only 3 way. I think you can just add either or both to your boxes. Describe your boxes please: how big, how deep, made of what, and how many. How do you irrigate?

I had a tree company remove 2 old maple trees (~50yrs old). My major effort was removing grass and tree roots from the soil. I used the stump grindings for my garden pathways. It interested me that I have never seen mushrooms grow in this yard in the 50+ years my Mom has lived there. Now they are a regular volunteer all over the garden. I covered the pathways with a weed barrier before I put the grindings on top. Now my weeds are almost all from the box plants that I let go to seed. It is good to be able to just eat the "weeds".

The flagstone patio is where the other maple tree was. I had to dig down to make the base for the flagstone. That dirt I just put into one of the boxes that needed some dirt. That is one place where all kinds of edible things are now about 3inches high.

My four boxes are 4'x8'x20" tall. they take about a yard of dirt each. I added a zone and have a riser and spout for each one of them. I used a drip hose for each of the boxes this year and it seemed to work out really well. I was watering each day for 30 min at 9 am and 1 pm. during the hottest days.


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