We are blessed with mild Southern California weather that is perfect for growing all kinds of vegetables and flowers year round… if only we could get a spade into our soil.
It’s the rub with SoCal gardening. So many of us have lots of soil with terrible soil, often compacted, poorly drained, nutrient-depleted clay. Oddly enough, so many food aspirants are turning to premium garden beds, which allow you to add your own nutrient-rich, loamy soil without trying to dig up rocky or hard soil.
If you’re thinking of going the furrow route this summer, you need to act fast, giving your young seedlings a chance to thrive before the summer heat hits us. But raised bed gardening is one of the easiest and fastest ways to get a good garden, and one recommended by gardening experts, if you follow these tips:
1. Choose a raised bed at least 18 inches deep to ensure that the deeper-growing vegetables have enough room to grow.
- Cover the bottom with a 1/4-inch screen to deter birds of prey, but don’t use any other barriers that might impede the flow of water and prevent roots from digging as deep into the ground as they want.
- Some professional gardeners prefer 24-inch beds, but remember, the deeper the bed, the more soil you will have to add. Some gardeners solve this problem by filling the bottom of their beds with dried leaves or finished compost so they don’t need a lot of soil, and the organic material will slowly break down, providing Add nutrients and beneficial microorganisms to your plants.
2. Keep the width narrow so you can easily reach the center of the bed.
- For example, if the bed is against a wall or fence, keep it 3 feet wide.
- If you can reach from all sides, then 4 to 6 feet will work.
3. Place the bed in a sunny spot.
- Vegetables need at least 6 hours of full sun each day, so make sure you know how much sun your location gets. before you fill in your box.
- One technique recommended by Lauri Kranz of Edible Gardens LA is to pick a sunny day and use your phone to take pictures of the place every hour from about 7 a.m. until dusk. The photo timestamp will record the amount of sun your location received before turning into shade.
4. If the bottom of your raised bed touches natural soil, keep the bed away from plants. “Roots take up water and nutrients most easily,” says Sophie Pennes of Urban Farms LA. “I haven’t seen this problem with citrus, but your bed should not be placed near plants, especially plants. is a legume. ”
5. Use the best organic soil you can afford, preferably bagged soil so you can be confident in the ingredients. “You’re wasting money if you don’t use the soil well,” said Conor Fitzpatrick, who has built cedar beds and edible gardens through his nursery business, Fig Earth Supply.
- “Look for soils like EB Stone’s Recipe 420 that have 18 weeks of growing nutrients, or their Raised Bed blend, which has 12 weeks of nutrients. Some cheaper soils only have 4 to 6 weeks of nutrients and then your plants stop growing,” says Fitzpatrick.
- Amend the soil with compost later in the growing season to replenish depleted nutrients and encourage beneficial microorganisms.
6. It is important to fill your raised bed upwards as the soil will compact over time and continue to lower. “The box itself can cast a shadow on your tree if it’s not filled at the top,” says Pennes. “And then you get a humid environment in that area that is partially covered. Spiders and slugs love to live in damp, shady corners, so it’s important to keep your box filled. “
7. Set up the drip irrigation system on its own timer, so you can adjust the amount of water based on the needs of your vegetables.
- The most successful gardens use deep, infrequent watering to encourage roots to dig deep into the soil for moisture and protection from the heat.
- Most professional gardeners recommend placing a half-inch-long header tube through one end of the bed, then attaching 1/4-inch-long pipes with holes every six inches or so.
- Jamiah Hargins of Crop Swap says that early morning watering is most effective. “When plants are exposed to sunlight, they want to drink most of the water,” he said. “Then they have that water to live on.”
- Water for a minute or two for a few weeks until the seedlings get over the transplant shock and start to grow, then train the roots to dive deeper for water by only watering twice a week for about 20 minutes. minutes (drip irrigation). If water starts to pour from the bottom of the bed, says Kranz, reduce the time to a few minutes.
- Alternatively, you can bury 5-gallon potted plants in your raised beds and plant them around them, then fill the pots with water once or twice a week, to let the plants grow, the roots will follow the moisture deep down. soil. (Water your hands around the base of the plants for the first few weeks until they settle.)
8. Coating can help retain moisture, but there’s an alternative.
- Use small wood chips that are easily moved by hand so you can add supplements like compost to feed the soil and in turn the plants.
- Most gardeners recommend intensive gardening, placing the plants close together (instead of separate wide rows), so the alternate leaves shade the ground and trap moisture, making mulch unnecessary. set.
https://www.latimes.com/lifestyle/story/2022-05-23/best-plants-for-raised-garden-beds-southern-california Best plants for raised garden beds in Los Angeles