Raised Bed Garden and Rainwater Collection and Garden Drip Irrigation Lessons Learned 2013

Another season of the raised bed garden has come and gone. I learned a lot of lessons this year and benefitted from lessons learned in previous years.  The raised bed garden was a success and we got enough rain for the rainwater collection system to be more than adequate to run my garden drip irrigation system.

Rain Water Collection Pond

Red Dirt Rainwater Collection Catch Pond
Rainwater Collection Catch Pond
I had our farm tractor at the house to cut some dead trees and decided to take the opportunity to build a rain water collection catch pond.  It’s harde than it looks to use a front end loader to dig a hole.  It took me about 20 hours of digging but I ended up with a “pond” that will hold up to three feet of water.  I finally got through the top soil down to a clay base and I think it’s going to hold water.

Bad Corn in the Raised Bed Garden

Black Garden Drip Irrigation Hose with Green Corn Plants
Garden Drip Irrigation Hose
Im not sure that corn is a good plant for a raised bed garden.  While they start fine, they seldom finish well.  I’m guessing that there aren’t enough plants for even pollination.  Next year, I’m taking the corn plants out of the raised bed garden and farming them over the septic tank drain field.  At least the Johnson grass does well there so I might as well give it a try with it’s cousin the corn plant!
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Flopped Squash

Raised Bed Garden Overflow of Green Squash Plants
Raised Bed Garden Overflow
My squash plants don’t look like they enjoy the garden drip irrigation system or the raised bed garden.  They are just too big to fit well in the garden and flopped over the side.  They flowered but never made any squash.  This is another plant that won’t make it on the list for next year either.

More Bad Corn

Yellow and Brown Survival Corn Year Two
Survival Corn Year Two
My survival kit corn didn’t do well at all.  It was probably due to the fat that I planted too few of them.  Corn isn’t going back in the raised bed garden anyway but I still have a number of dried survival kit corn to try again next year over the septic tank.

Failed Cucumbers

Raised Bed Garden Green Cucumber in Black Dirt Failure
Raised Bed Garden Cucumber Failure
My early season cucumbers did very well in the garden.  My late season cucumbers didn’t do well at all.  They consumed a lot of the water from my rain water collection system and never produced much of anything.  Another reason the garden didn’t do well may be that I didn’t add any new materials this year.  Next year, I’m going to add another measure of compost.  I think the peat moss and vermiculite are fine and the compost contains the organics anyway.

Winterizing the Raised Bed Garden and Drip Irrigation System

Brown Wood and Red Gravel Raised Bed Garden Drip Irrigation Put to Bed with Blue Plastic Tarp
Raised Bed Garden Drip Irrigation Put to Bed
Winter weeds were terrible in the garden last year.  This year, I spent an extra $7 to purchase and install a plastic tarp.  The goal is to prevent any weed growth over the winter – we’ll see if that works!

Leaky Rainwater Collection System

White Rainwater Collection Drip Irrigation Pipe Leak with Black Rubber and Purple Primer
Rainwater Collection Drip Irrigation Pipe Leak
The water line from my rainwater collection system that powers my garden drip irrigation system had a leak early in the season.  It took quite a while for the ground to dry out enough for me to find the leak.  It was a small and subtle leak and was occurring in a pvc pipe joint where they made a very slight curve.  I found this rubber connection joint at Home Depot and it worked just fine.  I ran my garden drip irrigation system all Summer with a water hose instead of the underground pipe.  It worked fine for me but annoyed my wife.

Summary of Raised Bed Garden, Rainwater Collection and Garden Drip Irrigation Lessons

I’m always a little sad when the growing season ends.  I’m also excited about what I’ve learned and can implement next year.  The rainwater collection pond will help a lot – especially as I plan a larger garden outside of the raised bed garden.  The garden drip irrigation system worked very well and I’m please – especially now that I have the leak fixed.  I’m going to expand the rainwater collection system this winter from 1000 gallons to 4000 gallons.  As always, next year will be even better!