Monday, March 4, 2013

Building from Scratch

Last spring I had 2 of these very large, square raised beds put together in the front yard. I spent the summer filling them with grass clippings & other yard 'waste' - non-seeded weeds, pruned bits, finished plants, etc.

At one point both beds were completely full of composting greens! Now, nearing the end of winter, I thought I would add soil so that I can actually grow something in them this year.

My first chore was to empty the compost tumbler & this spring I got only 1 wheelbarrow full - but the heavenly sweet smell!!

Now I can start adding & building a new batch of compost.

This compost is pretty moist & clumpy with bit still needing a bit more decomposition, which is OK as it is all going underneath a fresh layer of soil.

I gathered all my ingredients for my new raised bed: wheelbarrow full of fresh compost, newspaper, bone meal, freezer-burnt shrimp (more on this in a moment) & lots of Black Earth.

This Black Earth is made up of peat loam, peat moss, sand & compost. Looks great & feels pretty good too.

I lugged around the property 68 of these bags today & am starting to feel it!!

Hopefully the worms will enjoy the new soil, as well as whatever I decide to plant in this bed (runner beans??)

 (I love when photos refuse to cooperate...sorry for the visual).

I spread out (as best you can when it is soggy) a layer of newspaper, then the funky shrimps & then the compost. The worms should be attracted to this layer in droves!!

Then I spread on a healthy layer of bone meal... Would have preferred lime, but you go with what you have at the moment.

The bone meal will hopefully aid in masking the wonderful smell of the shrimps - which, I'm sure many of you are wondering why I would tempt dogs & bears & raccoons & rats with this potential messy situation.... Well, the nutrients are unbelievable & I'm hoping for some amazing plants in this bed this year. I use shrimp water on my roses & they just love it!

I then covered everything up with a thick layer of soil. I wish I had another 6 or so bags to add, but we shall see what the spring rains do & how much this will settle over the next few months.

It's a huge bed - 4 feet by 4 feet!! I can't reach the middle very easily, so am thinking I should plant some squash there or something that will grow out & be easier to reach. I had thought of a shrub but I'm sure I'll find something this summer that will work.

PS - I thought I really should protect the new soil & reduce the potential for midnight raiders as much as possible & I did cover up the bed with a thick layer of plastic. Will have to monitor it over the next few weeks & let you know if it survived!

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