welcome to the organic green doctor blog

i am a family physician who was diagnosed with
early mild cognitive impairment(mci) amnestic type on december 21, 2010
this is a precursor to alzheimers disease
because of this diagnosis i have opted to stop practicing medicine
this blog will be about my journey with this disease
please feel free to follow me along this path
i will continue blogging on organic gardening, green living,
solar power, rainwater collection, and healthy living
i will blog on these plus other things noted to be interesting

Thursday, October 7, 2021

garden news-how to garden in a raised garden bed


when we lived at the country n in texas i basically had several hundred square feet of raised beds
i used left over limestone bricks from a housing project to build the sides of the beds
then i bought a real good organic garden soil that had everything in it like compost good soil greensand organic fertilizer etc
i dumped it in my bed and planted my crops
each season i added a generous amount of organic compost i made myself plus a good organic fertilizer plus a soaking of a mix of fish emulsion+seaweed+molasses
the fish emulsion provides nitrogen the seaweed provides minerals and some hormones and the molasses provides food for the bacteria and fungi in the soil
i planted my crops
every 15 days i watered the plants with the fish emulsion seaweed molasses solution
using this method i usually produced good crops

it was a method i learned from reading and listening to the dirt doctor howard garrett and to the folks from the natural gardener like john dromgoole and from reading and listening to malcom beck from san antonio
these three guys are the organic gurus of organic gardening in texas

recently someone texted me 
we have this young couple who need help with their backyard garden
would you mind looking at it and giving them advice

you betcha i said

the young couple have two young kids that love the garden
they are new at gardening 
but from looking at what they produced this year they have done well for novice gardeners

in fact
they gave me about 25 lbs of squash they grew 
i donated it to an organic soup kitchen which will use it in their delicious nutritional soups
the ones that kept me alive last year when i was starving to death

they have several raised beds sitting on what looked like is packed granite sand
they are well spaced apart
the beds are about 3 ft x 8 ft in size
they are from 18-24 inches tall
they are made from untreated wood
dont use treated wood in your raised beds
in texas we used cedar  but any nontreated wood is ok
cedar just lasts longer
in california the best is redwood but its also expensive
i have used douglas fir since its cheaper but doesnt last as long

here you have to put wire to keep out gophers
the best is hardware cloth but they do make a gopher wire
for raised beds though use hardware cloth nailed or stapled in place

you need a sunny location with late afternoon shade is best
that is what this couple has 
at the kindergarten garden that i help with it is mostly shady and restricts what will grow there

they have water lines to each bed with a dripper or mister system
i personally have always used a dripper system so the leaves dont get wet
here things like cukes squash tomatoes are real prone to mildew and fungus disease because of the fog
its hard though to argue with their success

then the soil
its the most important part
you have to start with good soil
they were able to purchase good soil from local nurseries
in central texas you can find bulk organic garden soil that is ready to use
here i have had to make my own
its important to add compost to the soil
i always say you cant use too much compost
in my beds i add about 3-4 inches and fork it into the soil
i never use a shovel in my garden
i would add a good organic fertilizer
i use a 4 4 4 brand that all the nursery sells
dont use the granular nonorganic fertilizer since you can get salts buildup in your soil
that includes miracle grow
add a soaking of the fish emulsion seaweed molasses solution

as a general rule if you have earthworms that love your soil then you have the soil where you want it

when you have done all this its ready to plant

now what i do is prep my beds a few weeks before i use them so they will ripen
that allows the bacteria and fungi to grow 

i water my garden regularly before i plant my veggies
when my plants are established i water every 3-7 days based on the weather
in the dry season i water every 3 days and in the cooler season i may water every 7 days
i recently purchased a water meter that looks like a big thermometer that reads the moisture level in the soil
im surprised at the readings sometimes 
when i thought it was too dry it turned out to be wet
it cost me about 15 bucks
i use it even in the community garden beds to make sure we arent overusing our water

also there is a saying 
plant a 5 cent plant in a 5 dollar hole

in one of their raised beds they have bermuda grass that has made a stronghold
they have two choices

pull it out continuously every time they see it pop up 
they might be able to finally get rid of it
it was in one of my beds when i first started gardening at the community garden
it took a couple of years to finally eradicate it

remove all the soil and add new soil
they do make a soil thats just for raised beds thats sold in most nurseries
i must say the young couple soil looks like a good soil

when they pull out the grass dont compost it send to the trash not the compost bin

now if they do all that then they are ready to plant things
the secret is timing of when to plant
its different gardening here since each year seems different
eg last year at this time the tomatoes peppers egg plants cukes squash were going strong because last year was wetter and the fall was warmer
this year  its drier and cooler and has more fog and they arent doing as well

i usually only plant transplants in my garden except for maybe carrots or my salad mixes
even when i plant my salad mixes i will plant a six pack or two of lettuce transplants also
these shade and protect the lettuce seeds 
as soon as i get my first cuttings off the lettuce transplants the seeds will have sprouted
i use scissors like a lawnmower cutting grass to harvest my lettuce
the lettuce will grow back
i will seed the lettuce several times in the fall winter and early spring to provide months of greens

i take a spice shaker and put in beets spinach swiss chard arugula and various lettuce mixes
i just shake those on the soil and lightly if at all cover the seeds

timing of planting is important
i will send them a handout of when to plant things here and a handout of how far apart to plant things
although in a raised bed you can get by planting things closer together

i plant things in our greenhouse in six packs or 4 inch pots then transplant them to the garden
sometimes i just buy them at the nursery 

please only use organic products in your garden
many pests can be picked off and sprayed off with water
in my garden basket i have insecticidal soap spinosyn bt neem oil sluggo plus for snails and pill bugs
again i usually dont use much pest stuff
aphids i usually just keep washed off
pill bugs eat my new plantings so i sprinkle some sluggo plus around my new plantings
my guess is they wont have issues with the pill bugs and snails

now after they plant it they just need to take care of it and enjoy the harvest

when they first plant things based on the weather they may need to hand water things some until they are established 

i recommend a compost bin to compost things from the kitchen and for garden waste

i large black composter works well
we have two in our community garden 
you use equal amounts of greens and browns
greens are kitchen material not meat cheese salty stuff or bones
grass clippings green yard clippings
browns are leaves shredded newspapers cardboards
is good to shred or chop things into small pieces first since they will compost faster
the pile needs to be kept like a wet sponge 
not too wet
if it gets too wet and smelly it means you need more brown stuff
its nice if you occasionally turn the compost with a shovel or garden fork
make sure you have a lid on it to keep animals out

the best compost to use is the compost you make yourself

a good local organic santa barbara garden blog on what to do each month is 
green bean connection 

in our community garden we have planted by seed sweet peas vine and bush variety celery carrots lettuces broccoli cabbage swiss chard cilantro cauliflower beets  and fava beans
soon we will plant from transplants leeks onions and garlic and kales

below is the vegetable planting schedule for southern california
note this is for planting seeds
if you are using transplants move forward 1-2 months

here is the high mowing planting chart below pages 1 and 2
the depth of seed planting and the spacing and whether to seed or direct plant with a transplant is the important categories to look at

enjoy your veggies

yall might follow their lead and start you a backyard raised bed garden

the organicgreen doctor

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