The cool season is finally here, and here’s whats growing in my square foot raised bed garden..
True Value is a good place to find organic gardening supplies, I like to shop at the one in Alrai near the Infiniti Showroom.
Here is a nice touch they’ve added at the soils section:
Here’s a tomato trick, I’ve grown this tomato plant on its side, its original root ball is right next to the basil plant in the same square. The trick is to lay the entire plant on its side, and only let the leaves and branches out, this way all the buried hairs on the stem will develop into roots, giving the plant an extra strong support.
Raised Bed Tour:
Here is a new compost batch that I started last month, its getting well watered and turned.
I add layers of grass clippings (C+N), then kitchen scraps(N), then wood shavings (C), this way the dry wood shavings mask the scent of the fruits and vegetables which will attract less insects.
The reason my grass clippings are N+C is because I leave them in the sun for about 2 weeks before I put them in the bin, this way the dried brown grass reacts with the still fresh grass to make fast compost.
Im also making new compost tea to water and spray the plants with.
1- Moisten the soil
2- Mix in a handful of Mineral Rock Dust into each square.
3- Pop the seedling out by squeezing the pot to slowly slide it out.
4- Flip the plant over, removing it from the pot.
5- Gently massage the bottom roots so the plant wont be root bound.
6- Apply Rootgrow granules to the planting hole and on the visible roots on the seedling.
7- Place the plant in the deep hole, and snip off any branches that will be covered in soil.
8- Gently cover the plant, slowly pressing down and creating a saucer-like shape around it for the water to gather in.
10-Watch it grow
In this case this is a tomato plant, tomatoes like to be buried as deep as possible, because the tiny hairs on the stems turn into roots when coming in contact with soil, making it a stronger plant.
If I had a deeper box, I would’ve buried it until the top branches, or maybe next time I can plant the seedling sideways.
What is Mineral Rock Dust?
Minplus is 100% Natural, Multi-Mineral, Rock Dust.
Minplus instantly replenishes soil with minerals and nutrients found in volcanic rock.
This is a video explaining the role of rock dust in the growing of better vegetables:
I get my rock dust from True Value. You can learn more about Rock Dust here.
The weather is slowly getting cooler, and my plants are very hungry for rich soil, so I have to get my square foot raised beds ready, And tonight I filled one.
In this post I will demonstrate how to create Mel’s Mix on a large scale, this is exactly like the mix in the previous post, only larger. Again, you can apply this same formula for your containers and pots.
Make sure you wear a breathing mask while doing this:
-Lay the ingredients on a plastic tarp, 1/3 by volume each. And mix by raising the two ends of the tarp, or by using a shovel. This method ensures easy cleanup.
-Toss the mix into your raised bed or container. I added Rock Dust, which I will write about soon.
For my raised bed, I placed a layer of plastic, laid a some bricks under the bed for better drainage and easier cleanup,
and then I added a thin layer of sand in the bottom of the bed, before adding Mel’s Mix. The grey stuff in soil is the Rock Dust (Found in TrueValue).
There’s no excuse for having poor soil, All ingredients can be gathered by one trip to Al rai: Peatmoss, Rock Dust, and Vermiculite from True Value, and Organic Compost from Almashatel.
“Potting-up” is just the term for moving seedlings out of the seedling tray or small container and into a larger container–usually a 4″ pot.
Start by taking a look at the stems of your tomato seedlings. The fine “hairs” lining the stem develop into roots when they come into contact with soil, and so burying a large portion of the stem at planting time effectively doubles the size of the plant’s root system and encourages productive plants.
In this post, you will learn how to create Mel’s Mix on a very small scale. You can do the exact same mix for your containers, whatever their sizes. Just make sure each ingredient is 1/3 by volume.
What you will need:
-Organic Vermiculite and Peat moss, both by Espoma, found in Truevalue for under 3 KD per 8.8L bag.
-Organic compost. This time I’m using my own homemade compost. You can use organic compost from Almashatel, which will include manure and will have a strong unpleasant odor.
-Pots, you can use plastic pots,recycle milk cartons, anything really that will hold the soil and plant, as long as it has drainage holes at the bottom, its fine. I am using these very cheap pots from True value that were on sale at the time.
-Water. (watering can above from Ace hardware)
The way these ingredients will be divided is 1/3 each. This is called Mel’s Mix, created by the genius behind the Square Foot Gardening Method: Mel Barthalomew.
And this is the same formula I will be using to fill my raised beds soon, which will be the final location for my plants.
*Make sure you wear a mask for protection, as the compost and vermiculite dust particles can get in your lungs.
*Make sure you work in an area that is easy to clean, place plastic under your work area if it isn’t.
*Always wear gloves.
Steps to pot up tomato seedlings:
Start by filling the pots with 1/3 compost. The compost will provide all the nutrients, in this method we will not add fertilizer, so don’t skimp on the compost, its there to feed.
Add 1/3 peat moss which will keep the mix nice and fluffy.
Vermiculite is a natural mineral. It starts off sort of like a flaky rock. When heat is applied, it expands and becomes a light, fluffy, fire-resistant material. There are numerous uses for this product (like insulation), but here we’re using it as a soil conditioner for our garden beds. It helps keep soil light, allows for good airflow, and absorbs and retains water. See how dusty it gets?
Make sure you mix it together really well.
Next, carefully take the seedling out of its container, Make sure to handle plants by the root ball or leaves, taking care to protect the fragile stem. Massage the roots gently to loosen them up. and place it on a small layer of your mix. Water gently and add some more mix lightly around the plant, until its stem is completely covered in soil. Snip off any leaves that will be covered by soil.
Water lightly enough to moisten the soil, don’t drown the plant.
Make sure you label the containers, keep them in the shade for a few days. You will notice drooping for a while, which is entirely normal, and called transplant shock. Tomato plants are one of the most resilient plants and will bounce back all the time, unless seriously damaged. Just take a look at the way they managed to survive in the tiny peat pots I had them in for more than a month.
My garden beds are almost ready to be planted out, this is why its time to collect finished compost.
Not all my compost is finished, the reason behind that, is that I was adding new materials over finished compost. This is why I’m using a sifter to screen out the unfinished parts. The sifter can be found in Co ops for under two dinars. Sifting compost is a lot of work, but the end result is worth it. I got this fine, crumbly, clean, and attractive looking compost.
This compost took under 3 months to transform from grass clippings, orange peels, cardboard, melon rinds, and more, to this rich dark magic fertilizer and mulch.
Sifting compost is done by pushing the compost through the holes or by shaking the sifter repeatedly. Make sure the container under the sifter is larger in size; to collect everything, because your compost is very valuable . I used a plastic basin.
Can you believe this entire process took under three months!