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MAY 20, 2009   

Planting the raised bed

Mix of ingredients in wheelbarrowIn planting the raised bed I decided to try the "Square-Foot Gardening" method developed by Mel Bartholemew. He calls for a soil mix of 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 compost. I bought big bags of all of these and mixed them in a wheelbarrow.

The light (both color and weight) stuff in the center is vermiculite, with dark compost on the left and brown peat moss on the right. After mixing these with a shovel you get a light, crumbly soil.

Bed filled with soilBefore adding the soil I filled the raised bed frame with straw to about 10" from the top. I covered the top of the straw with newspaper so that the soil wouldn't sift down through it. Finally I shoveled in the soil mixture and leveled it.

Wooden grid and some plants Another part of square-foot gardening is to use a grid to divide the area into squares. This makes the planting more manageable by creating clearly defined planting areas. Here I've placed different plants in the squares where I'll plant them.

Raised bed with plants in itFinally the plants are in.

There's kohlrabi in the back corner, fennel in the center, and dill, basil, a few beets, parsley, onions and cilantro filling the other squares.

I was feeling pretty good about my morning's work until I—just now—read the section on compost at the Square-Foot Gardening site.

It emphasizes that commercially made compost is typically made with a single ingredient. It might be wood chips, turkey manure, mushroom or in my case cow manure. This isn't as good as homemade compost made with a variety of food scraps, leaves, etc.

So, to make sure that your plants get the various nutrients they need you're supposed to buy compost from at least five different sources and mix it. Oops. Wish I'd have read that earlier. I may have to look into some type of organic fertilizer.

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