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Old 01-16-2013, 12:10 PM   #1
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Raised Beds in CO


So last year I built 4 raised bed for vegetables and what not. My question is when do I start planting seeds?

Should I start the seeds inside? In egg crates?

Someone one here surely knows more than me about plants which incidentally isn't very much.

help me impress my lady please.

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Old 01-16-2013, 02:12 PM   #2
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When they go outdoors depends on the crop. Lettuce and peas are a cool weather crop and they go out as soon as the soil can be worked. Beans and tomatoes when the soil is about 70 degrees. Some seeds won't germinate anyway until the soil is warmer.

I can't help you with indoor seedlings. I've never had much luck doing it that way. Doesn't mean you would not be sucessful though. I find it a lot of work to make sure they are kept moist in such a small container. I have also experienced after seed germination a good spurt of growth, then they just flop over and die.

I have always just planted seeds straight into the garden or else bought the plant already started.

You never know til you try. The packages of seeds will tell you when to germinate indoors. Usually Feb or March

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Old 01-22-2013, 11:26 AM   #3
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I live near you. I have also been a raised box gardener in the Denver area for decades. My current garden boxes were made from a variety of things, mostly recycled materials.

You can start seeds now outside, but there are not many things that will do well alone outside. Results will be hard to predict with our weird weather, and the nature of your raised boxes. I have spinach, parsley, and mustard that are still alive. The production is not much though.

A neat thing about the raised boxes is that you have more control over a microclimate in each box. If your boxes are all the same size, you can make trellises and cold frames that can be moved based on your plan each year. A box with a cold frame will do great things for January and February greens here. Unfortunately, you are a bit late for that. Still, if you could rig one quickly, you would still be able to get a lot of different greens.

I have 8 raised boxes. No 2 are the same. This is different from my prior raised box gardens. So my routine is also changing. I have a basement plant room. I just started things a lot earlier than previously. I have greenhouse cucumbers and stevia that just sprouted. I was hoping I could grow some cukes in my basement. I don't know about the stevia and starting it so early indoors.

I will be planting snow peas and snap peas outside in my boxes next week. If I can get a cold frame assembled, I will start a bunch of greens in the box with the cold frame. I have the parts for the frame, just need to do a little welding.

Are you experienced with raised boxes, or is this your first experience. Please describe how you constructed them. Are they made of wood? What did you do for irrigation (both watering and drainage)? How are the corners made?

My decades of experience with raised boxes in Denver has shown me that Mother Nature will break wood boxes apart at the corners in about 5-10 years and cause them to bow if they are long. Watering and drainage are the other factors that may need some close attention as you build experience.

I took a water bed heater off Craigs list for free and built a 2x10 box around it. I added a layer of plastic and then 4 inches of sand. I dampened the sand and covered it with plastic. That is where I place the seed flats. The warm sand helps with seed germination. Some types of seed need a "paper" planter so the roots are not disturbed with transplanting. With our climate, some plants must be repotted more than once to make it to our last frost date.

What type of plants interest you?
Good luck, Gary.

Last edited by gobug; 01-22-2013 at 11:28 AM.
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Old 01-22-2013, 11:56 AM   #4
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Wow that is a lot of information Gary. Thank you for all of it. Here is my set up

I have four boxes that are 4' wide x 8' long x 2' tall. They are made from dimensional lumber. The corners are 4x4 posts and the lumber is tied into those with deck screws. I only have dirt in one of them right now. I was planning on starting my early vegetables in that bed and then filling the other ones here in the next month or so.

5-10 years is what were were expecting to get with the beds. I did however put a layer of 3 mil plastic on the inside walls of the beds. the bottoms are open to my lawn soil. I got a yard and a half of planters mix from santa fe sand and gravel for the first box. we had some greens growing and some squash started late last year but got no yield from it. Frost came too quickly. This is my absolute first attempt at growing anything so I'm a sponge. Any and all help you could give me would be appreciated. I can water with a hose now. my sprinkler system wont be set up for automatic watering until the spring.
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Old 01-22-2013, 12:26 PM   #5
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I suggest with our clay prone soil that you dig a shallow trench in the bottom of the empty boxes and put in a sock covered plastic drain pipe. Then put in your dirt. The sock keeps the dirt out of the pipe. The drain pipe keeps the box soil from getting too wet. After a few years with problems, I figured out to much water was the problem. It was a lot more work to put in the drainage tile after the boxes were full of dirt.

Each of my boxes has it's own spigot. I have sprinklers that fit in each box. That way I can water the boxes while I work on one with the water off. I still need to use a hose to dampen the areas that do not get water from the sprinklers.

2ft deep is plenty deep. I like that size because it easy to sit on and work a box. Unfortunately, 2x? is not comfortable to sit on. So 6 of my boxes have a 2x6 laying sideways on the top to sit on.

The other 2 are self wicking boxes that sit up 3 ft. The self wicking boxes sit on top of their own little reservoir that is fed by a swamp cooler valve in a trash can beneath a roof downspout. Last year was my first time with these boxes. The second is an improved version of the problems with the first, and the third one is in progress with more improvements. I grew tomatoes and peppers in them. What I like is that I did not have to water or weed these boxes at all last summer!

I got my dirt from the same place as you. Since I made the boxes, I knew the exact volume I needed. I ordered a bit extra. It was not until I had the dirt loaded that I could show I did not get as much as I ordered. I called them. They delivered at no extra cost a bit more than I needed. The dirt was excellent, so I was satisfied. I suggest you get their best topsoil compost mix.

The size of your boxes is adequate to provide a good amount of food and experiences. Rather than a 4x4 post in the corners, in my last garden, I used 1" L aluminum rod. I drilled holes and used nuts and bolts to anchor the corners. Those boxes lasted 25 years before I sold the house 10 years ago. They are still in good shape. The extra work and cost was right up front and saved a lot of repair. I think you will find that 5-10 years is not enough as your gardening joy grows.

Gary
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Old 01-28-2013, 10:21 AM   #6
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I definitely plan on gardening more than 5-10 years but we are planning on selling the house in 2-4 years so really I just want them looking good enough to sell the place.
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Old 01-28-2013, 11:14 AM   #7
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2-4 years! It will be a good time to begin learning how to garden. There is no doubt that a nice garden will improve your chances for prompt sale. It did for me both times I sold my properties.

The word "garden" is vague. Wouldn't that include fruit trees, berries, perennial "herbs", boxes, seating, work bench, hand tools, trellis, ....? That is a lot more than can be done in 2-4 years. For the garden to be a big plus in selling, nearly all those things must be there.

Do you plan on staying in the same area? Is the 2-4 year part of a plan to improve the property value and move up? How much time do you plan on investing in your new garden? There are many box garden things you can take with you.
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Old 01-28-2013, 11:36 AM   #8
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The house is a ranch with full basement over off federal and bowles (by that new walmart market place) We bought it with the intention of finishing the basement, enjoying if for a few years, selling and moving up. The vegetable garden is a start. This spring we will also be doing a complete re-grade and re-sod of the backyard. mulch around the raised boxes, paved fire pit area, finish building the fence around, and if time and money permit build a small shed along side the house.

Basement finishing is going on now and will hopefully be done by the time weather breaks in March/April, although these 60 degree days recently have been amazing!
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Old 01-28-2013, 12:47 PM   #9
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It sounds like a well thought out plan.

I went to hs at Fed and Evans, so I know your area well.

My gut says "minimize sod". This lessens lawn care, and also alters the typical ranch yard. My Broomfield house was a ranch with a basement, fairly similar style to what you describe. The yard is the first thing any one sees. The lawns and trees "we" have added are mimics of the mid-east. They were not here before we moved in. Bringing bluegrass and trees here required extra work to keep them alive.

Typical lawn sprinkling systems are not cheap, and water is going to be a bigger issue in the coming years. I think investing money in a lawn could be risky. Make your yard like the outdoor gardens at the Botanic Gardens.

Certainly now is the time for you to do a lot of pondering your plans while working the basement.

Good luck.
Gary
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Old 01-28-2013, 12:51 PM   #10
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Oh yeah, plan on snow peas or snap peas in your garden boxes mid-Feb. Some greens will do well in late Feb early March.
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Old 01-28-2013, 06:01 PM   #11
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Yep I am already in the planning stages with all this warm weather I'm getting excited. Oh wait wait. Yep there's the snow!!! Ah you gotta love Colorado.
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Old 03-12-2013, 06:06 PM   #12
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GoBug-

Have you planted your raised beds yet? We've had some crazy up and down weather huh??@?@?

70* this week, I'm thinking about planting some stuff. What do you think?
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Old 03-15-2013, 07:23 PM   #13
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I planted a bunch of peas in a couple of my raised boxes Monday. The cucumbers in my basement plant room have a dozen cukes with the longest being about 3/4".

There are many greens plus potatoes you could plant now. Go to a good garden center (not Wally's, Soops, or the Depot). They will have a much better selection of seeds and someone better able to give you some good suggestions.

Good luck.
Gary
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Old 03-16-2013, 12:39 AM   #14
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We are .7 miles from O'tooles. We love that place.
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Old 03-16-2013, 08:49 AM   #15
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I like them also. I like the O'toole's in Westminster by my daughter's house. I also like Ecter's in Arvada, by my son's house. Dardano's by Sante Fe and Evans is closest to me and good. Last year I got a sweet bay laurel plant from them.

See if O'tooles has kyona mizuna seed. Right now, I have some volunteers from last year's small crop (~2sq ft)of kyona mizuna growing in a path between boxes. My perenial stuff is not out yet (chives, oregano, thyme). The espaliered apricot, blackberries, and apples have buds, but not growing yet.

I hope we don't have another draught.
Good luck.
Gary

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