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Post  walshevak on 1/2/2011, 4:47 pm

This is the area at my son's house where we tried to garden last year (09). Landscape timbers made 8x8 squares which his wife and I filled with peat and black2010 kow and top soil. Started out great, but couldn't keep up with the water in the pure sand. Got some tomatos and bean during the summer and some bok choy early. Pics in May

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Tried again in 2010 using soaker hoses, pine straw mulch and more black kow. Again pics in May

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By July, most everything was dead and had $300 MONTH water bills.

Suggestions anyone!!!!!
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Post  Chopper on 1/2/2011, 5:35 pm

Yeah. Use MM with the vermiculite - part of its purpose is to help hold water. Change to 4X4 squares. If it is really super hot there, and I do not think it is compared to here, you might try making them slightly deeper.

Also: If your native soil is sand, you might want a barrier between the box and the soil so the water does not get sucked away - like plastic with holes or a double layer of weedcloth or very thick newspapers or plywood with some holes or...?

Mulch is a good idea too and once you have made the other adjustments, it should do what it was meant to do.
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Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 1/2/2011, 5:59 pm

If you have heat/drying issues, you could also put shade cloth over your beds. Keep them small, 4x?-ish, and run the cloth either over them like hoop houses or vertically along the sunny side of the garden against a trellis. Neither way will compare in cost to a $300/mo water bill, so the savings will be noticed.

Also, the idea of a barrier under the beds is great. However, adding vermiculite will be a major help in retaining moisture.

SFG would fit perfectly into cutting your costs. You pack everything in so tightly that you don't waste a drop of water hitting the soil.
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Post  walshevak on 1/2/2011, 6:38 pm

@Chopper wrote:Yeah. Use MM with the vermiculite - part of its purpose is to help hold water. Change to 4X4 squares. If it is really super hot there, and I do not think it is compared to here, you might try making them slightly deeper.

Also: If your native soil is sand, you might want a barrier between the box and the soil so the water does not get sucked away - like plastic with holes or a double layer of weedcloth or very thick newspapers or plywood with some holes or...?

Mulch is a good idea too and once you have made the other adjustments, it should do what it was meant to do.

Yeah, it gets really hot in Wilmington, NC during the summer. Regularly in the upper 90s. And the sand is a real problem. These plots were created BEFORE I bought the SFG book at Lowes. I have already started making plans to convert to 4x8s and 2x8s to utilize the fence as trellis which is on the east side of the garden. And I'm going to get my son, daughter in law and 18 YO grandson to mix up a huge batch of mels mix. Do you think one 1" hole per square foot would allow the plastic liner to drain into this sand enough yet still provide the water retention needed? Also thought about 8" boxes with 2" of mulch over the 6" of mels mix. We have LOTS of pine straw available.

Planned veggies include several tomatos, hot and sweet peppers, collards, pole beans, bok choy (in the shady area), okra, mustard greens, eggplant and summer squash for high summer and snap peas, asian greens, radish and a variety of salad greens during early spring and fall plantings. Might try broccoli in the spring. We had some luck with them this past spring before the heat and worms.

Fortunately I have a pickup truck because the vermiculite I'm going to have to buy is in Virginia Beach VA which is close to my home in Elizabeth City NC. But this works as I'm also planning tabletop gardens for myself. However, I have already located 4 of the 5 compost types locally; Black Kow, Black Hen, mushroom compost and Lowes brand. Guess I could get Home Depot brand as #5. My next trip to his house will be late Jan. which is a good time to get started. Cool weather crops can go into the ground mid to late Feb.
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Post  miinva on 1/2/2011, 9:03 pm

I encourage mulching. I read a lot online and didn't find any clear, precise guidelines for doing so, so I used mowed grass that has dried and saw a real difference in water retention. I'm planning to try some silver plastic mulch this year, but I'm a little concerned about how that's going to affect watering.
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Post  Megan on 1/3/2011, 5:50 am

walshevak,

It was just as hot for me last summer, and my garden did okay. I used vermiculite. (I did not mulch, but I should have, and I suggest you try it.) My beds don't have bottoms, but I'm on top of hardpan red Virginia clay here, and I think that helped control water absorption.

I watered twice a day (3x, a few days) when it was super hot. I was using a low-flow misting system, though. It raised our water bill about $20/month.

Bok choy and mustard are spring/fall crops, not summer ones. My bok choy bolted very quickly when it started to get hot. (My info on mustard is from reading and from Ander telling me about it.)

About your compost: It is not different BRANDS of compost that you want. It is types. What is it derived from? Mushroom compost is one kind. Chicken and Cow manure is others. Etc. etc. You may not be getting enough variation just buying different name brands without knowing what comprises it. (I think you are on the right track here, just wanted to mention in case you, or someone else, needed to know.)



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Post  LaFee on 1/3/2011, 8:58 am

there are parts of the world, though, that you can buy horse manure....or manure from horses....or fume de cheval (horse manure)...

So try to buy 5 different kinds of you can...and as many different kinds as you can find if you can't get to 5...then don't worry about it.
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Post  walshevak on 1/20/2011, 2:45 pm

cheers I found vermiculite in Wilminton, NC (already posted to the database) and 4 sources of compost at the same store. cow, chicken, mushroom and pig. I'm gonna get some general purpose box store compost for the 5th. AND as I was walking around my son's yard this morning I found a pile of leaves, branches and pinestraw that he had raked into the corner. Who knows when or what. A closer look and I found some pretty good looking black crumbly matter sitting on top of his sand. I'll make him sift it out and see how much is available. And the bigger stuff can go into his compost bin that i made for him.Maybe we should heat it in the oven to kill seeds. Any opinions?

This weekend was supposed to be garden box construction time, but now snow showers are forcast. This is the SOUTH!!! It's time for this stuff to stop. So the bags I bought may have to sit under a tarp until my next visit. I'm planning to cheat though and plant snap peas and lettuce in the 8x8 square with the string trellis still set up from last year. It is not one of the spaces being converted this year, so nothing ventured nothing gained. Will only use it for really early crop while the spring rains will still help him keep it watered. Trying to convert to 6 4x4 wicking boxes or a combination of designs that equal that in sq. footage - 3 inground and 3 table tops

Kay
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Post  Squat_Johnson on 1/20/2011, 3:16 pm

I like the soaker hoses also. I have started to put them under 1" of soil mix so that the water doesn't evaporate as fast. I have had good sucess with the canvas style over the rubber, which always would kink/fold up.
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