Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Building A Raised Garden With Water Troughs

Water troughs make great raised beds!

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Raised Garden Boxes
One of our most popular posts was How to Build a Raised Bed Vegetable Garden Box, that I posted in 2010. This post showed how to make garden boxes out of redwood. Nine years later, these boxes are still standing. I have to restain the wood every few years, but they are holding up pretty well. 
Building a raised garden box from redwood.

But when we decided to replace a thousand square feet of back lawn with more garden boxes, we wanted to do something that was easier. We had seen lots of those bright silver water troughs used as planters and thought that we could make them look a lot better with some paint. So here's what we did.

We purchased 7 water troughs that are 3' x 6'. Since they nest them when stored, they aren't all the same size. Keep that in mind when picking them out.

Step 1 - wash them well, inside and out, with soap and water. The inside because you will be growing your food in them and the outside to get the paint to adhere to them.

Step 2 - paint the troughs. We used Hammered Copper by Rust-Oleum. We brushed and rolled it on rather than buying the spray cans. It took two coats and around 3/4 of a can per trough. We didn't paint the lip to avoid painting inside the growing area.
Rust-Oleum Hammered Copper.

Step 3 - drill holes in the bottom of the trough. We used a drill bit that was less than 1/4" and we drilled a hole every 6 to 9 inches. Vacuum up the shavings. 

Step 4 - turn them over and cover the bottom of the trough with weed cloth to prevent the dirt from pouring out of the holes.

Step 5 - insert irrigation tubing. There is a hole at the bottom of the trough that you can use to slide the irrigation tubing through. Use whatever irrigation system you like - just set it up before you add the dirt.

Step 6 - add the dirt. It takes about a yard of compost per 3' x 6' trough. To that we mix in earthworm castings, Biochar, glacial rock dust, and mycorrhizae. We usually mix in some native dirt, but for these, we used all compost. See my husband's Magic Dirt Formula.

Step 7 - finish your irrigation and plant your veggies!

To prevent weeds, we also placed weed cloth over then entire garden area. We then covered it with about 6 1/2 tons of gravel.

I also place a few ceramic pots filled with herbs and flowers around the garden area to give it some color.
Pots with rosemary, lemon thyme
and geraniums.

Growing your own food is great! I take a basket out every morning and "shop" in my garden for our daily meals. If you have any room at all in your yard - even your front yard, put in some raised beds and start growing your food. Grass is a waste of water. We've ripped every inch of lawn out from our front and back yards which are now all covered in fruit trees and vegetable gardens. We also have a few acres of Pinot Noir plants which yielded 7 tons of grapes last year. I grew up in a small apartment in New York City and always had a dream of living in the country and farming. My dream became a reality 11 years ago when we moved to Sebastopol and turned 3 acres of dirt into our farm!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Grow Carrots Easily With Carrot Tape

Carrot tape makes it so much easier to plant those tiny seeds.

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Those Tiny Tiny Seeds!
Carrot seeds are so tiny. When I try planting an entire row of them, they almost always get washed away with the first watering. After a few bad carrot experiences, I finally gave up. But this year, I discovered carrot tape and it's working like a charm.

The tape holds the tiny seeds and you just plant a row of tape, 1/4" down, in rows a foot apart. Now I will say that they put too many seeds on the tape which makes them hard to thin, so I took a tweezer and carefully removed some of the seeds before planting. Every seed came up!

Gurney's offers 8 types of carrot tapes.
Plant the tape 1/4" down in the soil.
Water them well and thin if necessary after they sprout.

This is Gurney's  Envy Hybrid Carrot, 10" to 12" long

Some of the seeds come in a 12"x12" seed mat but I haven't tried that one yet.

This is the seed map for Gurney's Yaya hybrid carrot.