Monday, April 19, 2021

 Building Semi Permanent Beds 

                             First six beds formed at the new property

I like to form and farm on what I refer to as semi-permanent beds. These are beds, which I build and maintain over at least one year, but which can be used for as many as two or three years depending on the soil, will be utilized for at least 3 crops every year. The beds will likely grow a cover crop or remain fallow for a season before receiving an additional application of 2-3 inches of compost. 

Following the application of compost and the mixing of compost and native soils with a rototiller, I build 30 inch wide beds, four to six inches high. over the next several growing seasons the beds will continue to grow in height to 6-10 inches high. I utilize a 12 inch furrow between beds and concentrate all walking and other compacting activity on those furrows. 

Once the beds have been constructed, I apply overhead irrigation for a total of about 3/4 inches. This is done to germinate weeds seeds prior to direct seeding or transplanting, so they can be removed without damaging new crop plants. It also ensures adequate spoil moisture for the new seeds and plants.

Overhead sprinklers are used to germinate weeds seeds and provide moisture for new plantings

I use a simple tripod mounted impact head for applying overhead irrigation. This particular sprinkler will throw water in all directions for a distance of 456 feet but can be adjusted to particular measurements in distance and direction. The sprinkler was purchased at Tractor Supply for about $50.00

As I mentioned above, I build my beds 4-6 inches high and 30 inches wide. This width allows for multiple rows of many crops, but is also an adequate width for heavy feeding long growing crops like tomatoes, which will be planted one row to a bed. Other heavy feeders like corn, are planted two rows per bed and at least 3 beds at a time to ensure sufficient pollination. Beds are constructed at either 50 foot or 100 foot lengths. On this plot I am utilizing 100 foot beds. The length of the beds is important to consider when purchasing and planning irrigation supplies which I buy in 4000 foot rolls. I will share the irrigation design and layout in my next post. 


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