Sunday, February 22, 2009

Summer Garden Madness - the Arizona Raised Bed Method

Yeah, I went nuts today in the backyard. We aren't supposed to plant our summer crops here in Phoenix until March 1, but we are having a warming trend already, so why wait??? I planted corn, watermelons, pumpkins, cucumbers, beans, okra, peppers, onions, turnips, and leeks.

I also invented the Phoenix Raised Bed Method. It is a take off on the French Bio-Intensive Double Dig Method. In the Bio-Intensive Method, you dig down a shovels-worth, remove the dirt, then dig again, before replacing the original earth. Thus, you have up to 1 and a 1/2 feet of loose soil to plant in.

Well, in the Phoenix desert, the farther you go down, the harder it gets. Once you get past the sandy dirt layer, you might just hit caliche, which is literally rock hard. Not the mention all the actual rocks you will have to dig out. In other words, digging down sucks. So here is what I did:

I tilled the ground pretty good, producing about 8 inches of soft fluffy soil. Then, instead of continuing to dig down, a la the Biointensive way, I started shoveling UP, making big piles of soft earth. In other words, removing about 6-8 inches of top soil, and putting it right on top if the soil next to it. I then leveled off the top of the pile, leaving little berm walls around the edges for flood irrigation.

Viola! A foot and a half deep garden bed of soft fluffy soil for the plant roots to luxuriate in. I added some blood meal (for nitrogen) and garden sulfur (to lower pH) for good effect.

I created one big plot that way, about 6x8, and four smaller plots, about 2x6 each. Here's a pic of the smaller ones.

No comments:

Post a Comment