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I FINALLY GOT MOTIVATED and cleaned out a couple of wintered over vegetable beds and prepared them for planting. I began by laying down alfalfa, bone, cottonseed, and kelp meals as my first layer.

COMPOST is the second layer and piled on about three to four inches thick. I used to sift the compost, but it was so much extra work and all it really achieved was to remove some sticks and stems not fully composted. I finally decided that the compost could finish breaking down in the beds; it has worked out well ever since. Anything that is obviously large or not broken down is pulled out and returned to the bin. I’m happy and so are the plants.

COMPOSTED CHICKEN MANURE is the last layer. Since I don’t raise chickens I have to buy this product. I became a believer in chicken manure when I used to raise chickens many years ago. I now favor Gardener & Bloome products after an unpleasant surprise (chicken bones in all 18 bags!) with Whitney Farms chicken manure two years ago. The Gardener & Bloome product is better composted and has less odor.

NEXT STEP is tilling it all in with my favorite garden device: the electric Mantis tiller.

The tilled beds.

FINAL STEP is raking into shape. The raised beds are about twelve inches high and about thirty-six inches wide when finished. I water with rubber drip/soaker hose. The paths between the beds are just wide enough to maneuver a wheelbarrow through and covered with wood ‘play chips’ to keep the weeds and the mud down.

This is one of the lettuce volunteers that I have frequently mentioned; ready to  move from the path into a newly tilled bed.