Our green beans were beginning to turn yellow, meaning we have a nutritional deficiency. Referring to the MGC book on page 147, I see that a general yellowing of the entire plant is a nitrogen deficiency. The book calls for a correction of 1/2 ounce per linear foot of nitrogen to be added.
With the grow boxes filled with medium and seedlings transplanted our next project was the completion of the automated watering system. Lesson 16 in the MGC book, page 125, covers the construction details of the automated watering system. Three holes were drilled every 4 inches of the 3/4 inch schedule 30 pvc pipe to water our grow box. The holes are small, we ordered the number 57 drill bit from Amazon as our local stores don’t carry anything so small.
The holes are positioned to get a stream of water to squirt straight down into the bed and the other two at an angle towards the outside of the box. Our system will be drained in the winter as it turns cold. For all the piping that is below ground we elected to go with schedule 40 to help ensure we don’t have to dig up a broken pipe.
Currently we water by connecting a garden hose to the system. At some point we may go high tech and use a truly automated system.
It’s time to transplant green beans in the first grow box for our fall garden. Referring to the Garden Planting Details sheet on page 237 of the MGC book, we will plant our bush beans 3 inches apart and in two row in our 18 inch grow box.
I have not yet made the tool for marking grow beds and boxes for transplanting so I enlisted the help of the girls to get our 3 inch spacing.
Our grow boxes and in garden green house is beginning to come together. We now have two 18 inch wide by 30 feet long grow boxes built from treated 2 x 8 lumber in our garden. To those grow boxes we are adding the structure to allow us to grow vertically and support our in garden green house. The grow box construction is covered on page 78 of the MGC.
Before mixing and adding our growing medium, sawdust and sand for us, we added our pre-plant mix to the bottom of the grow box. Page 85 in the MGC book tells us to add one ounce per linear foot. So to this 30 foot grow box we measured out and added 30 ounces of pre-plant fertilizer. The grow box is now ready to be filled with a custom growing medium.
We utilized the free sawdust we were able to get locally to make our custom growing medium and sand. Following the MGC book, we mixed three parts sawdust to one part sand. This is mixed by volume and NOT by weight.
One 50 pound bag of all purpose sand filled a 5 gallon bucket so we used that as our measuring tool. After each bucketful of sawdust was added to our wheel barrow we added approximately 1/3 of a bag of sand. After the 15 gallons of saw dust and 5 gallons of sand were in the wheel barrow we mixed everything with a shovel before pouring it into the grow box. Each 10 foot section of our 30 foot grow boxes required 15 gallons of sand and 135 gallons of sand.
Once the grow box is full and level we have to add our pre-plant and weekly fertilizer to the medium and mix it in thoroughly. Page 87 in the MGC book calls for 1 ounce per linear foot of the pre-plant fertilizer mix and 1/2 ounce per linear foot of the weekly feed.
These are a little late in coming, but both boxes are now full and there is more progress on the green house portion. Later today we will order the green house plastic to cover the structure
After seedlings are up they require a smaller dose of fertilizer than what would be applied in the garden. The MGC Book, on page 183 calls for the mixing of 1 ounce of the weekly feed fertilizer to 3 gallons of water. It also calls for a sprinkling can to be used for its application.
An old laundry detergent bucket was washed out and used to hold our constant feed mix. A measured 3 gallons of water was poured into the bucket and then the water line marked on the outside of the bucket with a marker.
A sprinkling can is simply a can with holes made with a small nail and hammer. For our own use here at home we took an empty 16 ounce can of green beans and made the holes in the bottom with a small nail.
The beans I recently started from seeds for my fall crops are growing like mad and will need to be bumped up before I transplant them in the garden. To allow room for them to grow when we bump them up (transplant) we built a couple more seedling flats.
In your Mittleider Gardening Course book you can find a description and dimensions of the seedling flats on page 181.
The flat was filled with the same sawdust, sand and perlite mix that was used in the first one where our seeds are now growing. The beans will be transplanted into the new flat soon.
This morning I watered the seeds in the seedling flat that I planted less than 48 hours ago. Once watering was complete I peeled back the burlap to check on them and was surprised to see germination already! Now that I have germination the burlap will be removed. I will still water through the burlap to help protect the seeds.
From left to right in the picture that has currently germinated you will see arugula, kale, peas and the beginning of my beans. I will need to build some additional seedling flats so I can bump up the seedlings as they grow and become confined. These will be planted in our grow boxes and will have an in garden green house built over them to extend our gardening season.
These 30 foot long and 18 inch wide boxes are being built for our fall crops. We will also be building an in garden green house over these boxes. This will allow us to extend our growing season by 12 weeks.
Once construction is complete they will be filled with a mix of sand and sawdust as our growing medium. As that growing medium contains no nutrients for the plants we will be providing all of the necessary nutrients via an inexpensive mix that is applied on a weekly basis.
The PVC you see next to the treated 2×8 serve a few purposes. They help hold the boxes level and in place once filled with our sawdust and sand growing medium. They also support the a-frames we will be making by heating and bending some half inch pvc. Once the mini a-frames are in place they can then be covered with green house plastic to protect our fall crops.
Now that our seedling flat medium is mixed we need to mix up our pre-plant fertilizer that will be added to our growing medium. According to the Mittleider Gardening Course book on page 51, we are going to mix 5 pounds lime of gypsum, 1 ounce of boron from 20 Mule Team Borax, and 4 ounces of magnesium sulfate. (we get more than 20 inches of rain here in Missouri annually so we use lime. 18 or fewer inches you want gypsum)
Time to mix up the sawdust, sand and perlite that will be used as our growing medium in our seedling flats. We mixed 4 parts sawdust, 2 parts sand and 1/2 part perlite for our seedling flat, as seen in the pictures below.
Seedling flats are shown in the Mittleider Gardening Course book on page 181. The dimensions of the seedling flats are 18″ x 18″ x 2 1/2″. Once filled with the mixed growing medium we added 1 1/2 ounces of our pre plant fertilizer mix. (Page 51 in the MGM)