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May 29th, 2013

This is the sixth installment in the 5×5 Garden Challenge Series. Every Wednesday I’ll be posting about the challenge, covering topics that will help all the new gardeners get started. If you haven’t heard about the challenge head on over to the 5×5 Challenge Website, we’ll also be putting up a page here that pulls in all the 5×5 Challenge posts.
5x5 garden challenge
Last night things had dried out enough for me to fill up the 5×5 Challenge Garden in the front yard. I didn’t bother with any special raised bed mix. In the past when I had raised beds, I used Mel’s Mix from Square Foot Gardening. I wasn’t happy with the mix and found that simply adding a sandy loam soil to a raised bed worked best. It retains moisture better and my plants grew much better in real soil.
5x5challenge garden 1
As you can see my garden helper was on hand to survey my work and make sure I was doing it properly.
5x5challenge garden 2
After filling it up, I had grand plans of planting all my seeds. It’s finally warm enough here to not worry too much about frost. Then the mosquitos started buzzing in my ear.
5x5challenge garden 3
I’ll get the entire garden planted tomorrow, following my handy planned out guide of course. It sure is nice to finally be planting something. I can’t wait to see how well everything does, will we have any seeds germinating already by next week?

When’s your last frost date?  Have you planted your heat loving crops in the garden yet? 

20 Comments to “Fill-Er-Up”
  1. Mich on May 29, 2013 at 6:05 am

    Heat lovers live in the greenhouse here in the UK, otherwise I end up looking at a harvest of green toms by end of summer or blighted plants. Neither a great option.

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  2. Adelina Anderson on May 29, 2013 at 6:28 am

    Last week we had a bit of frost plus a few cold days as well. I already planted the kale, brussel sprouts, broccoli and onions. They did well. This past weekend I finished up the garden with 6 tomato plants – all heirloom. And we set up a container with 2 more tomato plants. All that is left is my containers of herbs.

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  3. daisy on May 29, 2013 at 7:58 am

    We are pretty much done with our growing season, except for peppers, cherry tomatoes and sweet potatoes.
    Love the alyssum planted along the bed.

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  4. Louise on May 29, 2013 at 8:22 am

    We are trying a raised bed for the first time and I have checked out the Square Foot Gardening book from the library. I was planning to use the Mel’s Mix recipe to fill the bed, but I was interested to read your comment about that mixture not working well for you. Can you tell me what problems you had with it? And also, is the soil you are using for your 5×5 bed right from your property or is it purchased? And do you amend it with anything? Sorry for all the questions but it is a big commitment for us and we want to get it right, if possible. Thanks!

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    • Susy on May 29, 2013 at 9:36 am

      I found it to dry out too quickly, way too quickly. The soil in this raised bed is from another area of the property where I planted some shrubs I moved from Ohio. I might dig a little bit of soil from our main garden to top it off as well. I added a little bit of compost to the soil. If your soil looks dark & rich, there’s no need to add much of anything. If your soil looks lean, compost is always a good addition. I’d recommend also watering plants with a liquid kelp or fish hydrosol to give it the nutrients that might be lacking in your soil. I generally recommend growing in your soil first to see how things grow before amending.

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  5. whit on May 29, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Can’t wait to see this in August!

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  6. Jennifer Fisk on May 29, 2013 at 9:36 am

    I haven’t even gotten the cold tolerant plants in yet. What a frustrating spring this has been. By the end of Saturday, I hope everything is in.

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  7. amy on May 29, 2013 at 9:47 am

    Everything but the courgette got planted this past weekend and that was only because I thought I had seeds and did not as it turned out….It had tried to frost a couple of days the previous week but I am hoping that was the last roar of cold…..My tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, tomatillos and celery had had enough of being in pots….so come hell or high water it was time to get them in the ground. I have raised bed envy…..that is a verra nice one…..Pegs!

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  8. rebekah on May 29, 2013 at 10:21 am

    Hi! It looks like you already had something in your raised bed before you added the soil…I was wondering what that was? Is it important to have some kind of base or filler before for putting soil in?
    I am just about to construct my first raised bed and I am also new to gardening in general (what I lack in experience, I make up for in enthusiasm!)
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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    • Susy on May 29, 2013 at 10:23 am

      Nothing in there but some upturned sod from the area around the raised bed. I dug the sod about a foot out from the raised bed and then flipped it upside down inside the raised bed. That way I didn’t waste any of the soil. There was a little bit of grass that survived, but it will smother with all the soil on top of it.

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  9. Karla on May 29, 2013 at 11:13 am

    I’ve planted some melon seeds (Seed Savers Delice de la Table) in the cherry guilds I have in the front yard (I’m still filling them in, so there’s room), but haven’t put out the tomato and pepper seedlings I bought yet. Before I do, I want to top up raised beds with soil/compost and put in the irrigation system I haven’t yet assembled. Given that thunderstorms are predicted for tonight, the planting won’t happen, but perhaps the assembly will.

    I agree about the sod-flipping method for starting a raised bed. Lots of worms hang out in the grass roots, so in addition to soil and organic matter, you keep the worms, too, if you use the sod.

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  10. Chris on May 29, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Love the corners on your beds…did your husband construct those and if so, what kind of wood did he use? We have such a wet climate here that we almost always have to use cedar!
    Nope, no warm weather veggies in yet…still too cool! We have saying here in the Northwest, that summer never arrives until July 5th! :)

    Reply to Chris's comment

    • Susy on May 29, 2013 at 2:50 pm

      Yes, Mr Chiots build the raised bed for me. It’s actually made out of white pine. There was a HUGE white pine tree that had come down on part of our property. The previous owner had cut it into sections but had left it lay. Mr Chiots used his chainsaw mill to mill 2 inch thick boards and then used what he learned at his timberframing class to make the bed.

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    • Mr. Chiots on May 29, 2013 at 3:05 pm

      With as wet as it is here in Maine, this bed will probably only last 3-5 years. It was more of an experiment and we knew it would break down ‘quickly’. But the wood was free (except for some time). For something with a bit more longevity I would suggest cedar or hemlock.

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  11. Kris Engebretsen on May 29, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    How do you keep that beautiful cat of yours and others you have from using your raised bed as a litter box? And any tips for attracting cats? We have had a mice problem around the foundation of our house in the past, and this spring it’s been garter snakes. Now I know that the snakes help keep down the rodent and pest population, but I’m not a huge fan and I’m finding them in my gardens around my house ever time I go outside. I though maybe a cat would help chase them away and keep the rodent population in check. Any suggestions?

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  12. Chris on May 29, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    Yes, we don’t have much hemlock around here, so cedar is usually the wood of choice for outdoor projects and it is a native tree here, so it’s readily available! My husband took an old school, wood boat building class here, so maybe he can copy your corner style! :) In fact, you may have heard of the school and I believe the only other school of it’s kind is in Maine!
    It’s the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building in Pt. Hadlock…not too far from us! Well, we don’t have that wood boat yet but the traditional carpentry skills really came in handy for other projects! :)
    Anyway, your beds are one of a kind!

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  13. Caroline on May 30, 2013 at 1:13 am

    Very exciting!

    My last frost date is something like May 30, however the website I’d been referring to was telling me April 30 which means I put things in the ground too far ahead of time! Eep! I now know better than to blindly trust the Internet!

    I purchased some starter plants from a local nursery stand, two Better Belle Peppers, two “Tequila” peppers and two Ground Cherry Tomato plants. I’m very excited because just today I noticed that the GCT plant has flowers and berries already starting! They’re barely a foot tall but my neighbor/mentor assured me they will keep growing taller even though they’re already flowering.

    I’ve also had my lettuce in for a while, sweet peas (to attract some good bugs), green onions, a bush bean plant, and some basil. I’m very excited for my own tomato plants to grow just a bit larger so that I can begin hardening them off and putting them in the garden with the others. Just today my neighbor/gardening mentor gave me something like 3 tomato plants to put in the garden. Very exciting! Already I’m learning what to do differently next year!

    Oh, and I haven’t had to water the garden in ages since it’s been non-stop rain for at least two weeks! It’s getting a little depressing!

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  14. Elyse on May 30, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Our last frost date is something like March 20…. so most of my plants have been in the ground for awhile! The cukes, bush beans, and one tomato (bad year for tomatoes thus far) have blossoms and baby fruit. The peppers are stubbornly not doing anything.

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  15. Twitter Bird :) on May 30, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Hello! How are y’ll ? I am fine.

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  16. Colleen on May 31, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    Our last frost date is about April15-20. Yes, the warm weather crops are in the ground, however its been cooler and wetter than “normal” making growth slow. Even though some things are planted in the garden, I try to keep some crops covered (tomatoes, basil) until later in the season. Some plants just need extra warmth, we rarely get more than two or three weeks of very hot weather. The peppers stay in the green house all season.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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