Raised beds too hot! Over fertilized?

by brooke

hi there,

around two weeks ago i layered up two raised beds following the no dig method (but i am worried i may have majorly over fertilized in my naive eagerness) i thought ten days would have been long enough for the beds to settle, but when i stick my hand about 15-20cms deep, the soil feels incredibly hot. despite this, two days ago i planted up the beds with beans, tomatoes, strawberries, leeks, nasturtiums and marigolds. they are now looking rather worse for wear, i have watered them, but i am really concerned that the extreme heat produced in the decomposition process is burning their little roots. if they all die off in the next few days what should i do?! wait for a while and replant? is there something i can do to cool the soil down?

both my mother and grandmother have fine green thumbs, but they are very skeptical of no-dig gardening and say that i should stick with methods that are tried and true. im really hoping to get these gardens flourishing for the summer! please, do you have any advice for me?


Comments for Raised beds too hot! Over fertilized?

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Nov 12, 2011
why do raised no dig garden bed get too hot NEW
by: James and my family

With respect to your mother and gran, raised beds have been around since earth began! It is nature's way, it stops erosion and keeps the soil balanced without turning over and upsetting the natural layers of little wriggly lives, good fungi and bacteria and small good plants. The tried and true methods (unless they are organic) have been abused by many large producers and have cost us polluted waters and soil, erosions, and many unneccesary health problems, plus a scary picture of the future of how to feed everybody without poisoning us first. It is not sustainable that way.

Back to your raised beds. I've never had a problem with heat because I don't have large deep areas filled with layers, and the layers I do add are thin, like 5cm grass or leaves then some compost, then maybe more leaves or dried grass or what I have for mulch. Could be you used lots of compost and it hasn't stopped composting yet? If you leave it to compost, the heat will kill off all weed seeds which is good, but if you cool it down you could be stopping the composting process.

I suggest cooling your garden beds with water if you really want to grow plants now, just keep adding more water, never let them dry out. Or if you need to plant more plants you could fill up holes or channels with ordinary soil to plant, because the heat will be gone in couple of weeks so by the time any roots get down it will be safe. Plant roots love warm soil, so don't drown out all the heat with too much water.

If you added extra fertilizer from a shop, that could be too strong for little plants. They don't need lots, just little amounts once they are big and really growing and producing. I hardly add extra fertilizer at all because I add new layers all the time which provides good soil, though sometimes I water with my own compost tea mixture. Don't ask me how I make it, I just mess around with throwing things in a large bin and letting the rain do the rest as long as I stir it with the strong forked stick each time I go past. I then scoop out a cup full and add it to watering can when I need to use.
That's my short ideas, I could get on a soapbox and go on and on, but I bet others have more ideas for you, stick with it and enjoy the good healthy way.

Nov 16, 2011
raised beds dont get too hot if you leave them over winter NEW
by: Anonymous

I dont grow much in winter except a few snow hardy berbs where I am, so come fall I pile on the leaves after adding anything I can like local horse or rabbit or donkey (yes really) droppings and any straw. One year I got lots of seaweed to put on and another year I used woodshavings which was like rough sawdust. Then I leave it all to party over winter and its ready to plant in spring. If I have compost ready I use that to put a bit on top or mix with sand and vermiculite, I buy a bag, and grow seeds in to plant out when warmer warmer comes.
So I never have a problem with too hot of a garden because I leave it long enough.

Nov 27, 2011
Filling Raised Beds NEW
by: Robert Bradford

Filling Raised Beds
Our garden beds and the chicken coop are in the fenced (deer proof) orchard. The beds are 4' wide and multiples of 16' long bordered by cattle panels. They are alternated garden, compost, garden so the compost has up to 6 months to cook and be worked by the chickens. We add kitchen scraps, garden scraps, grass clippings or leaves gathered with a bagging mower to the compost daily. Every 6 months we swing the 4' gate at each end of every other bed to close the compost, plant garden and open the just harvested garden bed which becomes the new compost beds. The 4' width is so that no insects can get more than 2' from the chickens who eat almost anything smaller and slower than a chicken. This system has given us bumper organic crops at zero cost except for the permanent fencing and fuel for the mower. It has the added advantage of rotating crops, giving compostables at least 6 months to work before harvest and being daily stirred, weeded, rid of insects and cast fruit and being manured by chickens. Whenever compost beds become garden the coop is cleaned to bare earth and the litter added to new compost beds. Twelve inches of shredded paper, new grass clippings and leaves are then added to the coop to restart the deep litter system. God composts in His garden, continually mulches and gardens in His compost. We do too.

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