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Posted: 10/19/2013 10:03:00 AM EST
Well, fall has come and I finally got around to updating the last garden bed to a raised bed. Since I was going to be outside anyway I went ahead and started some pig smoking while I was at it.....

I seasoned the pig butts the night before and studded them with whole garlic cloves stuffed into the peirced fat cap...

Here is the garden bed before I started. It currently holds blackberries and asparagas. The new bed will be slightly larger and will include raspberries in the new section on the end.
Link Posted: 10/19/2013 10:10:52 AM EST
First the pigs go into the smoker for 6 hours...

Next the blocks get laid out in the arrangement we want for the new bed, and we cut down around the outside edge with a shovel:

Time to smoke the pig again and then remove the blocks and start cutting out the sod with a shovel.

Starting at the lowest point we laid one block at a time, cutting into the dirt as needed to keep it more or less level. We did use a level, but a proper mason would probably not be impressed. The main idea here is for the blocks to meet at the same height all the way around and fit smoothly together.
Link Posted: 10/19/2013 10:20:05 AM EST
We decided to make this bed only 2 blocks high plus a cap since the plants are already in it - we will slowly add dirt to raise the level in it over time. Mainly the idea was that 2 blocks (with concrete fill) would hold together better than 1, so we went with it:

Here is the bed partially completed. The main work is digging the soil and getting the first row level. After that it's easy.

Here is the finished blockwork:

We pulled the pig from the smoker, wrapped it in foil and ran it in the oven on low for a few hours to finish it off while we ran another load of pig in the smoker.
Time to chill with a cold drink!

Fresh from the smoker:

We had some daylight left so we picked up some pvc pipe from the store to test making frames for a winter cover. So far so good; I want to see how it holds up over the winter before adding them to more of the beds next year:

The pig is out of the oven and it's time to reward myself with piggie goodness!
Link Posted: 10/19/2013 11:12:32 AM EST
your beds and butts look fantastic!!
Link Posted: 10/19/2013 1:25:44 PM EST
HAHA! Why yes, yardwork is good for that.
Link Posted: 10/19/2013 2:47:34 PM EST
Looks really good keep up the good work hope to see more from the raised beds. Im doing something similar and I like the way yours came out. - Sigman322
Link Posted: 10/29/2013 8:53:53 AM EST
Well, we had our first freeze last Friday night (down to 22 degrees). I am trying to determine what does well in my zone 7b yard in the fall/winter, so I planted a bit of everything round about October 1st. It was supposed to be Sept 1st, but life got in the way.

Results so far:

Successes: buttercrunch lettuce, corn salad lettuce, turnips, radishes, fava beans, snow peas, carrots, parsnips and collards

Weather failures: beets, and swiss chard

Insect failures: ALL of the brassicas other than the collards. I'm not sure if it is intrinsic to the collards, or because they were in a separate bed. My brussel sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli were covered in so many eggs on the back of the leaves they looked crusted. I tried spraying them with sevin but the waxy surface of the leaves meant it rolled right off. The broccoli was just starting to form heads, too.

Tech upgrades: I had tried to make pvc hoops and suspend winterizing cloth. The hoops worked great and bent into the 4 foot wide beds better than I feared, but the jury-rigged cloth cover came off some time in the night. I popped for the pvc clips from Amazon a few days later - so far they work like a charm. The only problem I have now is the cloth isn't wide enough to come all the way to the dirt, so it will most likely just act as an air funnel. Oh well. If the pvc survives the winter okay I will look at wider cloth and try again next year.
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