In my last blog, we discussed getting our raised beds ready for planting. We have built our 4' x 8' raised bed, or built up soil to approximate the area we want to plant. This area can be any size you want. We have laid down some chicken wire, hardware cloth or any material that will prevent moles, etc. from digging up & into our beds' interior, then eating our crops inside our bed. We have augmented our beds with a good mix of compost, quality soil & composted straw, peat, vermiculite or any similar material. We are now ready to plant.
I started my planting last fall by putting in about 30 heads of garlic in one 4' x 8' raised bed. This was done by breaking up the heads & planting the individual cloves. The cloves have had a great germination rate & are about 4-6" tall. These will be harvested later this year.
I am also getting ready to plant various plants & seeds in some existing beds. To prep the beds I've cleaned up the beds by ensuring as much plant matter as possible stays in the ground. This is to minimize disrupting the bacterial & microorganisms that are in the ground. I usually cut off all plants at ground level, leaving the below ground roots where they are in place, in the soil. I try to return anything cut above ground level right down onto the soil. Sometimes one must cut the plant material into smaller pieces but the idea is to minimize your labor efforts by leaving this compostable material in place. (Or you can haul all this material to your compost pile, wait for it to break down, then haul all it all back.)
Once my beds' weeds are down on the soil or in the compost pile, I add some kind of additional compost. I prefer seasoned chicken manure with straw or rabbit manure. Then I top this with about 2-4" of quality organic topsoil (no fertilizers) if needed to fill a bed up or add height to an area. Then I top this with about 2-3" of straw. I try to do this every year so my beds are in a constant state of soil enriching replenishment. When you are ready to put some seeds or plants in the ground just pull back the straw, plug the plant in, then reposition the straw back around the stems of whatever you planted. Seeds may need to remain exposed to the sun to germinate. Consult the planting instructions & recommended planting dates for whatever you are putting in the ground. Don't forget our last frost date (15 April). Happy planting!!