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I have had a big garden for 4 years now. I have pastures around it & am always fightting Texas weeds & invasive grasses. I have an old Edko walking tractor & decided to build a custom made attachment for it to sift the roots, weeds & other debris from my garden. I decided to go big this 2013 & build 5 - 37ft x 4 ft raised bed planter boxes. i decided since we are drought prone that I would set up a drip irrigation system for the boxes. I used the gutter from the shop to collect rain water into a 330 gal tank up high for the drip system & also made the system to work with city water also when needed. I managed to get 3 rows sifted & planted so far & have 2 more to get done... The home made dirt sifter works great with the old Edko & has saved me tons of work though hand shoveling lots of yards of dirt plumb wore me out so far. At least it is only a one time thing & I will only have to maintain the boxes them selves. I am letting the grass grow between the rows & mow it like the yard.... Here is 2 links of my tractor, sifter & how the garden is comming along... might give you ideas of square foot / planter box gardening as well as a watering system that works well... Here in Texas it can get dry & hot fast & to have constant irrigation to the plants, the garden will grow like gang busters... going to sell produce again at the local farmers market....I can also use the planter boxes for a green house....

http://youtu.be/t8WWcQHB_YE
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I like the sink idea next to the storage tank, that will be handy to have right next to the garden.
It sounded good to me also since I won't have to wash my produce in the kitchen sink any more. It will also be from the tank with gravity feed but I can also use city water if I want to. I did a lot of planning when it came to the irrigation system so it can work in several ways for everything.
 

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That looks like a really good set up. The edco looks like a winner. I'm sure you will keep us posted when the green comes in.
 
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Every time I watch your screener in action I want one too :worshippy1: I have some of my garden in beds because my yard slopes they don't look very straight lol yours looks fantastic !
 
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Every time I watch your screener in action I want one too :worshippy1: I have some of my garden in beds because my yard slopes they don't look very straight lol yours looks fantastic !
Basically same place I pulled my dirt over the years. They were squared up with string line across & down. They also sit on a slope so I leveled them across & gave 1-2 degrees slope to the front so the gravity feed will run all the way down. The drip pipes 1/2 pvc have great pressure, kind of surprized me when I opened the valve at the tank. Even with just 60 gal of water in the tank, it had great pressure.... If you look at the boxes, they step down an inch or so from the other due to the slope towards the pasture.... took some configuring but I got the angles right... thanks for string lines .... I also drove the 2x4 stakes into the ground 12 inches, it made it easier to level plus i plan on using 2 rows, outside edge & make arches from pvc & make the portable green house ... 6.5 ft tall all the way down & have a 2 box green house... I can make 2 of them out of 4 of the boxes & build a short long 4ft tall over the last box if needed... with irrigation installed, the posabilites are endless... When it is all finished, it will cost around $1,000 for the total package & good for many years & easy to fix.... The Edko & the sifter have been running great & not a bit of wear on the screen... I got it right this time & have shoveled over 70 yards of dirt though it so far.... that barn find Edko tractor was a great find & I have been using the heck out of it ... love it to death ... The garden is registered as part of the farm.... agricultural so the write off for taxes will gain a bunch of the 1k back plus sales of produce.... looking ahead like we should... retired so I have plenty of time to play...lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Here is the latest video of the sifter in action. It will give you an idea of how it works & how fast it gets it done.... The dirt was still wet & took a bit to get the dirt clods broke up but the bouncing of the screen did a pretty good job.... Lots of shoveling to sift all the dirt... thank goodness I only have to do this once.. just wore me out... I almost got the 3rd box done... 10 ft to go... then to the last box.... i need to get to the rabbit mans place & get my load of rabbit poo... get loads of it for free as long as I come clean out the floor under the pens to get it... no worries because it is the best to use & is well worth it. Need it to fortify the dirt along with lots of compost..... VIDEO....
 

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Well, here is an update to my garden... spent all day getting lots of the landscaping done... tilled between the rows & leveled them... now they are ready for grass. I also had to rebuild the drainage ditch from the hwy... tons of water can come down through this ditch in a heavy rain storm & flood the garden... My onions are doing great... I still have one more row to sift... I got the back area ready to be planted with squash...getting ready to get the stone work done around the red shed... got it all prepped out, just need to go to the big pile & pick my rock...... then next step is build the frame for the sink & plumb it in after the stone work...
 

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That looks real nice! Glad you got it all sifted!
 
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Looks very nice :thumbs: Is the dirt sandy or is it just the way it shows up in the pictures ?
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The soil here in East Texas is very sandy. I have lots of compost, rabbit poop, peat moss etc to fortify the rows... I always had a great garden & usually get a soil sample off to the college... Back home in Washington state, we have very rich fertile black dirt... I learned that around here, you need to always fortify the dirt... I have one more row to sift but rain last night kept me from getting it done for now. Been working on getting the landscaping done & working on the shed area for the sink... So far in 2 rows, I have 216 hybrid kandy corn, should produce over 400 ears of corn... i also have 1 row of heirloom purple hull peas over 300 plants... should put out lots of bushels along with fall seed stock. Along the edges of the corn I planted over 200 beets... love pickled beets... Then around 400 big Texas super sweet onions & 100 red salad onions.... after I sift the last box, I will be planting yellow,red & green peppers,Jalapeno peppers, better boy tomato's & maybe a couple of experimental plants to see how they do here in the heat... I will also have black zucchini, crook neck yellow squash to go in the back bed ... one thing nice about box gardening... you never waste a spot to put in a plant unlike just putting in a row without the box...
 

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Our soil isn't very sandy but I still try growing carrots , small & short ones instead of the very large type. You mentioned that your going to make hoops for the beds , will that so you can grow all winter or will it hold some type of shade cloth to keep the sun from cooking the plants in summer ? Boy I have lots of questions lol , Al
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Our soil isn't very sandy but I still try growing carrots , small & short ones instead of the very large type. You mentioned that your going to make hoops for the beds , will that so you can grow all winter or will it hold some type of shade cloth to keep the sun from cooking the plants in summer ? Boy I have lots of questions lol , Al
I tried carrots, all I got out of them is toothpicks... seems they would do good but they need cooler climate... more of very early or fall crop... As for hoops....lol... I am going to use 1 inch pvc pipe...schedule 40 & take 2 = 10ft pieces & connect them together to span over 2 boxes every 4 ft or so using various pvc fittings & such to make a heavy duty frame spanning over 2 of the boxes to make a green house 37 ft long... I can cover it with semi clear plastic for early or winter type crops or use a semi dark sun shade type of cover to grow semi shaded or cooler crop plants. if needed for winter crops, I also have an old propane furnace from a travel trailer that works to use for a heat source in the winter... here in Texas, we usually don,t get much of a winter but do frost once in a while.... green house growing is not something I have done & am on the learning curve but we have a good friend who grows exotic trees & plants & uses them.... big help in making the best use of a green house...only problem I can see is that the winds can really blow here & they need to be fastened down very well... planning on tie down cables to secure the structure from buckling or flying away like a kite...lol...
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Here in this picture is my idea for the green house... pvc every 4 ft over the 2 boxes all the way down the 2 rows. This will give me close to 300 square feet of growing space in 2 boxes... unlike the boxes usually built by people... just set on the ground... mine are secured deep in the ground every 8 ft with 2x4 stakes. That keeps them secure to the ground & also keeps them at the angles needed for the water system & the hill they are set on as they need to be level... The frame will be trussed etc for strength & support for hanging plants etc too... not sure of all of it but strength is key to this type of structure. The pvc arch shows the size of the green house.... I will be building the frame next month & will post pictures of it later... I can also build short 4 ft tall green houses over each box with roll up plastic covers that are kind of built the same way but not over 2 boxes but just one box.
 

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These pictures are of my garden spot without boxes... everything grew very well & were grown in just rows... the planter boxes will change all of that & I can double my crops using boxes without all the erosion & can rotate crops during the year & grow more different crops all year long... I get a huge bumper crop every year & want to increase it... using the boxes & irrigation system plus green houses, I will do very well... I can also grow my own plant starts & sell them at the local farmers markets in the early spring... These pictures were taken in mid June last year... corn, 4 rows heirloom purple hull peas, sugar snap peas, okra, better boy, early girl & grape tomato's, green, yellow & red peppers,sweet banana peppers, cayenne peppers, jalapeno peppers, big red beets... I use the cayenne peppers for bug control... put them in a blender with water & little vegetable oil... blend very well, strain with cheese cloth & put liquid in spray bottle & spray solution over the plants... hey it works well to keep the bugs away.... Question... how or what do I use to get rid of the worm that always seems to get in my ears of corn ?... hate it & if I plan on selling corn, I need to get rid of that problem.... I always keep my garden clean of weeds & grass but it became way too much work to stay on it... with the boxes clean of all that, I will let the grass grow between the boxes & stop soil erosion & when it rains, will stop the 6 inch deep mud that I had to wade through to get around the crops between the rows... mow it like the lawn... Since the garden is built on a hill, I needed to take control of water run off... took 3 gardens to get it right... all water runs down & to a drain ditch at the front of the rows, this water runs off to the huge pond at the back pasture... I also grew in another spot, cucumbers, cantaloupe, butternut squash, mini watermelons, black & green zucchini,straight neck & crookneck & acorn squash... all did very well... I also tried Brussel sprouts... they grew ok but was just too hot & never produced sprouts... more of a fall crop...I was experimenting the first year to see what worked... The picture of the produce grown is just a sample of what I harvested as there was a whole lot more....
 

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First off, great looking garden. I hope that mine looks have as good in a few years. Also Great looking produce there, makes me hungry!

... mow it like the lawn...
Sorry if I missed it but how will you keep the grass clipings out of the garden? bagger on your mower? After all of that work sifting the dirt I would hate for your mower to be throwing weed and grass seed back in to the beds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
First off, great looking garden. I hope that mine looks have as good in a few years. Also Great looking produce there, makes me hungry!

Sorry if I missed it but how will you keep the grass clipings out of the garden? bagger on your mower? After all of that work sifting the dirt I would hate for your mower to be throwing weed and grass seed back in to the beds.
I have a 22 inch Toro mulching mower without the bag or discharge. I am going to plant real good grass seed in between the rows & keep it down so it will never get the chance to seed. Grass clippings if any get in the beds won't hurt it....compost...lol ... I know that weeds & other growing materials will end up in the beds...inevitable but, they will be easily controllable when they pop up in the beds... I could not sift it all out but 90% is pretty good... As we gardeners all know, there is no real solution to weeds & grass without poisons that I don't use... just how mother nature flows & we learn to work around it the best we can. My biggest problem will be the blasted fire ants... they seem to invade everything. going to try cedar wood chips in the beds & see if that will control them... if that fails I will try neem oil solution. I heard it works great for insect control...
 

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A few years back I decided to go with the boxes, the native soil was just far to hard to work with due to the volume of rocks it contained,, I used a soil mix that contains topsoil, coarse sand, peat, and compost. I to would like to get an irrigation set up just havent spent the time to do it yet. I have also thought about the plastic tunnels but other than extending the season or for cold crops Im far enough north that you wont be growing "tender" stuff without heat but for me this method sure beats growing in the native rock pit.
 
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