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Thursday, March 22, 2012

How to Double Dig A Raised Bed: Scatter Planting Carrots

Double digging a raised bed creates a raised bed with about 2 feet of loosened soil. This is a benefit of both double digging and raised beds. Raised beds warm earlier and because you walk around them, the garden bed stays loose and doesn't compact due to foot traffic. The benefit... more vegetables and the ability to plant vegetables closer together. I recommend raised beds that you double dig.

I am showing you how to double dig a row in a raised bed for scatter planting carrots. If you were to double dig the whole bed, you would use a drop cloth to hold the first 12 inches of soil. In the pictures I put that soil on the half of the bed I won't be double digging.

The first step was to turn the whole garden the length of the spade and break the clumps up. The second step starts with removing about 12 inches of soil from the row in which the carrots will be planted.

Step One - A Raised Bed Turned Once and Amended: Gary Pilarchik
Step Two - Double Digging a Raised Bed: Gary Pilarchik

The second step is clearing the row for the carrots. You can see above that I placed the soil to the side and for the most part the soil looks the same in the row and in the pile. It is pretty much equally amended.

The third step is removing another 10 - 12 inches of soil from the row. Notice the soil is changing color and is more clay. It was also compacted and hard. 

Step Two - Remove the 2nd 12 inches in a Raised Bed: Gary Pilarchik

You can amend the soil in the row however you like. I recommend a combination of organic matter, compost, and dirt. I typically use what is available, on sale and meets the quality needs of my garden. Don't spend a lot and don't stress over the decision. I used peat moss, composted manure and cheap topsoil.

Amendments for the Raised Bed Garden: Gary Pilarchik

You don't have to do this with all your beds. Because carrots are long tap roots that like loose fluffy soil and my soil is mostly clay, I softened it up for the carrots. Carrots are tap roots that will appreciate 24 inches of loose soil to grow in. I like to oblige my vegetables.

Step Three - Amended the Raised Bed Row: Gary Pilarchik

I added the whole bags of composted manure and topsoil down the length of the row. I mixed it by hand until it was broken down and loose. It is actually great exercise for your arms.

Step Four - Mixing in the Amendments: Gary Pilarchik

The next step is to replace some of the soil from the side pile and add about 5 shovel fulls of peat moss. I also used a stake to mark out the row.

Step Five: Add Peat Moss: Gary Pilarchik

Mix in the peat moss, from above, a good 8-12 inches and add another 5 shovel fulls of peat moss and some more soil as pictured below. That should bring your row back up to level. The reason you add so much peat moss is for the carrots. It keeps things loose. Mix in the rest of the peat moss evenly.

Step Six - Add More Peat Moss: Gary Pilarchik
Mix the top layer of soil and amendments together nicely. If you had some lime around you could add 4 or 5 handfuls over the peat moss to knock down the natural acidity of peat moss.

Step Seven - Mix the Top of the Double Dug Row Up Nicely: Gary Pilarchik

Your ready to scatter seed the row and grow some carrots. Remember carrots like loose soil. This row is loosened to 18 to 24 inches. It is perfect for carrots. 

Mixed Carrots - The Rusted Garden: Gary Pilarchik

I took the seed in my palm and pinched clumps of seeds in my fingers.  From about 12 inches high I rubbed my fingers together and let the seeds scatter where ever they fell. I did the entire row. It is hard to see but take a look. On most computers you can double click the picture to enlarge it to full screen. Step eight is planting the carrots or vegetables.

Double Click to Enlarge Carrot Seeds: Gary Pilarchik
Once scattered I used the tips of my fingers to mix the seeds into the first 1/4 to 1/2 inch of soil. Some might be deeper, some might be left on top but scatter planting is designed for that. You will have to thin your carrots to a minimum of one inch once they come up. The last step is of course watering them in.

Mix in the Carrots with Your Finger Tips: Gary Pilarchik
Water in and Mark the Carrot Row: Gary Pilarchik
Notice my lovely clay clumps. They never go away. Argh!

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