The Backyard Garden Got A Bit Crazy This Year

raised bed garden using bio-char

There was no way we were going to get through this spring and summer without finally putting in a raised bed garden. We had talked about it for a few years and never got it done. It seemed like the right thing to do. My wife enjoys cooking (and eating) vegetables. I enjoy eating them… sometimes. But, mostly, we just wanted to see if we could do it. We wanted to see if we could build the box, fill it with dirt and try to grow something useful for our family.

Motivation to complete the project came when we started to work on the Wakefield project. All the studies indicated that we would see results and there was a lot of confidence we could get our garden rolling. So we built two raised bed boxes. One with the typical garden mix of vermiculite, compost and top soil. The other with the exact same mix plus biochar.

The results were very surprising for us.

We expected the biochar box to do well and we did see the tomatoes start to grow faster where we had biochar in the mix. And we were very diligent to make sure each box got the exact same amount of water. I would count the seconds I would point the garden hose at each area to make sure I wasn’t favoring the biochar box. Sooner or later some nay-sayer would question my ethics and I wasn’t going to give them any ammunition against my progress. Over a few weeks things started to change on me. The biochar box started to lose it’s edge and the non-char box caught up in its growth and even started to surpass the char box. What in the world!!! How can this be?

raised bed garden using bio-char
There was supposed to be carrots and onions but the zucchini took over. Thanks biochar!

The answer for the improvements in the char box was actually the water. I got a moisture meter and found that the char box was over-saturated. The moisture meter was pegged over 10 while the non-char box was staying around 7 or 8. What I surmised was that the biochar was retaining a lot more water than the other box. The other box was allowing more water to drain out and I was over-watering. I started to reduce the water given to the char box and everything started to come on strong. By the end of the second month the tomatoes were taller and the zucchini plant was massive. The char box had bigger cherry tomatoes, and more of them.

I felt like I had learned a lot about gardening just through the process of watching the plants grow and paying attention to the amount of water they were getting.

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