Ron Schreiner, Pierre, SD, US

gardening interests: Composting, Cooking, Culinary Herbs, Fruits and Berries, Gardening with Kids, Livestock, Organic Gardening, Ornamental Gardening, Square-Foot Gardening, Sustainable Living, Vegetables, Soils

Member Since: 03/13/2009

recent comments

Re: Give Your Garden a Seaweed Boost

Seaweed need not come from only the sea. We in the Midwest have witnessed an infestation of Curly Leaf Pondweed and Milfoil that has been choking our lakes and waterways, and causing a hazard to navigation.

This pondweed is absolutely full of nutrients, and the nearby residents will be happy if you would help them out and remove it. I live on a series of canals connected to the Missouri River, and the lower levels and slow water in the canals are perfect breeding grounds for the Curly Leaf Pondweed, which showed up in force in the last ten years. The growing stems are hollow, and that causes the weed to grow upward. It is easy to identify growing areas of the weed, and it is only a matter of a little elbow grease to harvest this free resource.

Water-side residents initially cut or pulled up the weed using rakes thrown from shore, but I have found that dragging a heavy sickle bar behind a small boat is quite effective. Once dislodged, the plants float to the surface where they can easily be removed. Later in the fall, spent plants will die and float to the surface, where they drift to the shore and accumulate in wide bands. These drifted are yours for the taking on public beaches, and you only need a wheelbarrow or garden cart to havest all you can use.

I have placed the recently dislodged plants in windrows, and then chopped them into smaller lengths with a tool often called a MUTT, or multiple use tool, which has a wide cutting edge on a long handle. At that point the plants can be immediately used as mulch, or added to the compost pile.

The benefit over ocean-grown seaweed is that the pondweed contains no salts, and can be used as is.

You are only limited by the amount of time available to gather this valuable but free resource. It's another gift from nature without cost, and it is immediately usable.

Re: Garden- 2008

Great stuff! One question - how tall do your tomatoes get, and can you keep them under control (without sprawling) with the stakes that I am seeing? Do you prune suckers?

How large are the raised beds? Do you double dig when making riased beds?

Re: A. R.'s Garden

Yes, you can work with beds tall enough for a wheelchair-bound gardener. While I am not in a wheelchair, I tried taller beds last year just to see if they would work. I liked the idea that I could garden without bending over so far.

My beds are constructed of landscape timbers stacked (and screwed) atop one another, and lined with aluminum sheets before the soil goes in. The first I built are 24" tall, and that seems to be a good height, and especially so for someone in a wheelchair. The thing to remember is make them rather more narrow than for non-handicapped individuals, as reaching across will be a potential issue.

A bed that tall will take a lot of soil, but the important and most fertile soil will need to be in the growing zone at the top of the bed, so you can fill the lower 12" or so with poorer soil or whatever you have on hand. Then finish filling the bed with your better soil. I found that two feet of soil tended to settle a bit, so this year I will have to supplement the good soil at the top of the bed with enough to fill the bin to the top again.

I like the idea so well, both in theory and in practice, that I am adding 4 more 30 foot long beds this year.

By the way, the better soil in the topmost region of these beds is composed of 1/3 compost, 1/3 sand, and the final 1/3 is the old soil I took out of the original bed(s) that I deconstructed. I mixed this all together and took that opportunity to remove any unwanted roots and rocks before I added it to the bed.

Good luck with the bed(s). I think you'll find they work really well. Remember to keep the pathways around them as flat and smooth as possible for ease of getting your chair around.