Thursday, May 8, 2008

Raised Beds - Night and Day

I put my first two beds in different locations with different angles for lots of reasons that I thought were good. One is that my area is contentious in designation; IDA, riparian buffer zone, wetlands, and I didn't want to put them anywhere there might be any question about. I am also near the tidally influenced river, so in the summer when hurricanes or tropical cyclones of any strength come anywhere near the coast, the water rises. So I went with the highest of the ground. The last reason, and probably the most suspect in terms of logic, is that it is freaking hot here in the summer. So hot and so humid that even tomato plants die. Yes, that hot!

In containers, a well watered tomato plant only half grown that it is in a 2 cubic foot container (which is huge and meant for dwarf trees) can be completely dried out and wilting within 8 hours.

Because raised beds like mine are really only large containers in some ways, I thought that maybe the less hot area in my far rear yard, though it doesn't get as many hours of direct light, might be better in the full on summer.

Not such a good idea. Though the amount of sun it receives will increase as we go on through the year and the sun angle changes, these early months with only 5 hours of sunlight or so have made a huge difference in early growth.

These two pictures are of the two beds. The first is the sunnier bed. I planted more shade tolerant plants in my second bed so you can't compare most of those, but look at the tomato plants in the back row. The ones receiving a bit less direct sun, 1 or 2 hours a day less and during times when the sun angles are lower, are about half the size.

I call that a learning experience! Next year, I'll put only more shade tolerant plants out there during the early growth season and leave the tomatoes for the other two boxes. Or maybe I'll just move the bed!

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