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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Planting Peas, Carrots, and Radishes in a Raised Bed Garden

It is March 20th.  It is time to plant the cool weather crops in Maryland (Zone 7). I amended my raised beds with peat moss. I will prepare them for the different seeds and use a mix of peat moss (moisten!) and composted humus and manure. Do not moisten the composted humus and manure. You won't like the result. The peat moss gets moistened and the latter added.

Step One: Add in some peat moss and moisten it.  You can see the moistened peat moss in the container.

Step Two: Add in one whole bag of the composted humus and manure.  Mix it thoroughly in with the moistened peat moss. Break up all the clumps. You will use this to amend you seed planting areas.

Step Three: Plant you seeds. In this case it is peas. The peas I am planting are stringless and called Goliath. They will grow vines over 4 feet. I am NOT going to use the composted mix to plant the peas. Peas fix nitrogen themselves. If you look closely you can see I put the peas in about every 2 inches to 2 1/2 inches. You can thin later. In a raised bed, because of the deep loose soil, you can plant seeds closer together. The depth of loose soil means less competition for root space. I put in 3 starting posts to string later so the peas can grow up them as they mature. I pushed the seeds down to 2 inches with my finger and covered them. Peas are done.

Step Four: Plant your seeds. In this case carrots. I have clay soil. Even though I use raise beds and loosen the soil to a good depth, the clay is heavy. Heavy soils challenge carrots. You can buy carrot varieties that help with this. I bought a variety that only grows 6 inches. I cleared a 10 -12  inch wide furrow the length of the plot. I use sticks to temporarily mark off my plantings.

Step Five: Preparing the planting area for carrots.  Carrots grow deep, they are one big root. I added  dried peat moss.  I am not using a lot dried peat moss and it gets worked down deeply with a hand shovel to at least another 12 inches. In this case the dried peat moss will have plenty of time to absorb water. I then added the composted humus and manure the length of the shallow furrow.

The composted material got mixed to a few inches and was smoothed out.

Step Six: Planting the carrot seeds. The seeds are hard to see. I planted 2 seeds per spot and three spots across.  You can see to spots with my fingers. So... three spots of seeds width wise in the furrow and space  them about 2 to 2 1/2 inches apart. No science again. The work you did to loosen the soil to depth, lets them grow with little competition.  I started the next row, of three spots, about 2 inches from the other seeds. Work your way down the whole row. You WILL have to thin them to one plant per spot if more then 1 seedling emerges.

The tips of my fingers are one spot each. There are 2 or 3 seeds in a spot. Each spot will have to be thinned to one plant if more then one emerges.  Do not stress about the spacing... 2 inches in either direction is fine. Just dont forget to thin. You might even go 4 across if you furrow is wider.

Step Seven: Plant your seeds. Long radishes are planted like carrots. Repeat the above for radish varieties like White Icicles. Any radish that grows 4 plus inches should be treated like a carrot. For a reveiw... here are the furrow stages.

Three stages to long root crops like carrots, long radishes,  and parsnips.

Step Nine: Plant your seeds. Standard round radishes or 2 inch radishes.  Dig out row with your hand about an inch deep or a litte more. In loose soil your seeds can be a little deeper then the package suggestion. Remove clay clumps.

Step Eight: Planting the radishes.  One radish seed, 1 inch apart down the length of the row. You can thin them as needed. The thinned radishes are great in salads. I put some composted humus down and then put the seeds on it.  I covered them with the surrounding soil with varying depths of 1/2 inch to 1 inch. Again, don't stress over being exact. I used poles and stakes to mark my plantings.

Step Nine: Enjoy your labor.

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