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Friday, February 3, 2012

KNOL: Planting Peas, Carrots and Long Radishes in a Raised Bed Garden

Transfered from Google Knols to be stored on my blog.

Peas, carrots, and radishes can go in the ground at the same time. Radishes come in two basic forms; round and long. Long radishes and carrots need the same basic type of soil... loose loose loose. If you don't have loose soil the roots don't grow well. Peas are just not particular about the soil as long as it isn't wet and muddy. These are three cool season crops that can be put in the ground early.

Planting Peas, Carrots, and Long Radishes

in a Raised Bed Garden

by Gary Pilarchik LCSW-C
For up to date gardening ideas and techniques visit my blog The Rusted Vegetable Garden
March is time to plant the cool weather crops in Maryland (Zone 7). I already amended my raised beds with peat moss. You can check out my other Knols to see how I did it.  Now it is time to plant seeds and I will prepare the planting areas, for the different seeds, by using 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. This isn't an exact science so don't worry about the exact measurements. Your seeds and plants will love what ever you create.


Step One: Add in some peat moss and moisten it

You can see the moistened peat moss in the container. Peat moss is totally dry. It is so dry that it has difficulty initially absorbing water. When using it to plant seeds you want to moisten the peat moss so you don't run into a problem. The problem is that dry peat moss will actually float on water. If you have seeds sitting in dry peat moss and add water... the seeds might get washed out. So moisten your peat moss by adding water and rubbing the dry peat moss into the water. It is so dry... you have to rub the water and peat moss together.
You can use about 4 to 6 heaping shovels of peat moss per 1 bag of composted humus and cow manure. You can substitute the product with another bag of organic matter if you want. Mixing in the peat moss gives your planting material, moisture holding ability.
When using peat moss you are adding acidity to your soil. It is good practice to add about a handful of pulverized lime to your moisten peat moss. It helps reduce the acidity.


Step Two: Add in one bag of the composted humus and manure  

Mix an entire bag of organic matter thoroughly in with the moistened peat moss. Break up all the clumps. You will use this to amend you seed planting areas and you will use it to cover your seeds.

Step Three: Plant you seeds. In this case it is peas

The peas I am planting are a stringless variety called Goliath. They will grow vines that are 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 1 1/2 to 2 inches with my finger and covered them.
The peas are going on the left side of my bed. It is important to know how the sun tracks in your yard. I know tall vegetables get planted on the left side of my beds so when the sun tracks to set, the shadows from the peas will fall away from all the plants to their right.

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.
This bed was amended earlier with peat moss and turned to a depth of over 12 inches. It is loose but needs to be even looser for the roots of the carrots and long radishes to grow to full maturity. You can plant carrots by evenly scattering the whole pack down the row. They would need to be vigorously thinned to get carrots to full maturity. I am showing a planting example of spacing the seeds out. You can plant carrots and long radishes both ways.

Preparing the planting area for carrots (and long rooted crops)

Carrots grow deep tap roots, they are one big root. You want to make it easy for the roots of carrots and long radishes to grow downward. I added dried peat moss.  I am not using a lot dried peat moss (1/2 inch down the row) 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. If you soil is heavy... add more peat moss. You can also add sand.
Long rooted crops are crops the you grow for the root. Beets, parsnips, long radishes and even onion to a degree. Some of the vegetables grow deeper roots of course but the priniciple of loose soil for root or bulb maturation is the same.


Add an inch or so of composted organic matter or in this case the mixture of peat and composted humus and manure down the length of the row. When in doubt use more then you think. Mix this in with your hand shovel to about 8 - 12 inches.

Planting the carrot seeds (the same for long radishes)

The seeds are hard to see. I planted 2 seeds per spot and three spots across.  You can see two 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 carrot spots 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 in length should be treated like a carrot. For a reveiw... here are the furrow stages.

Three stages of planting for long root crops like carrots, long radishes, and parsnips.

Step Eight: Plant your seeds. Standard round radishes

Dig out row with your hand about an inch deep or a litte more. In loose soil your seeds can be planted a little deeper then the package suggestion. Remove clay clumps.

Planting the round or short 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

Always take the time to look at what you completed. Part of the beauty of gardening is the creation. Enjoy!


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