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.
The fertilizer can be mixed in with a potatoe for or a shovel, but we have an attachment for our gas powered weed eater and will be using it.
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
If you are starting seedlings you will need constant feed. After your seeds have germinated the seedlings require a smaller dose of fertilizer than what would be applied in the garden. To give them a full dose of the weekly feed in a small container would burn them.
The MGC Book, on page 183 calls for the mixing of 1 ounce of the weekly feed fertilizer to 3 gallons of water. The nutrients do not dissolve immediately. Typically we will mix up a new batch and allow it to sit overnight to ensure everything dissolves.
If the constant feed is needed immediately one could add the weekly feed to a small amount of hot water and stir until dissolved. Add that solution to your bucket with 3 gallons of water and stir before using.
What containers can I use for the constant feed
My favorite container for solution is an old rectangular laundry detergent bucket. The shape makes it ideal for getting up close to the edge of the seedling table and our seedling flats. We can get the constant to the seedlings without slopping the liquid every where.
You can see the side of my bucket below. A measured 3 gallons of water was poured into the bucket. Then the water line marked on the outside of the bucket with a marker.
If you will have a LOT of seedlings then a plastic barrel or trash can with a lid would work to hold your constant feed. Avoid using metal containers, the solution will cause rust. To use the constant feed from a large container one would simply stir the solution and dip the watering bucket into the barrel.
The special device for watering seedlings with constant feed
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. A small nail like the one shown below is ideal.
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.
Next to the grow boxes you can see our sweet potatoes growing like mad.
Our quest to be self reliant and grow a healthy garden