We've been working hard and getting dirty building the new beds this past week. The wood was rotting out of our old and comfy raised beds and our plants were near about to fall out. So we removed all the wood from any beds that were falling out and lined the edges of the beds with cinder blocks (which are not as heavy as we all were expecting them to be). Now our edges are taller and more 'root-proof'', allowing us to further build up the beds if we so decided.
So next we have to look into soil and bed building techniques. The nearby Edible Peace Patch, where many of our Sol-Food gardeners also volunteer, has started using a modified hugelkultur technique, layering different organic materials in a big pit under the beds. The materials they have used include fish bones, manure, oak leaves, more fish bones, mulch, compost and soil builder for the final layer. The organic materials decompose continuously over time because it is so deep and layered, keeping nutrients present and encouraging deeper root growth. At the Boyd Hill garden, we used seaweed, mulch and soil builder to make up the beds. Seaweed is supposedly awesome in retaining nutrients and water and we have plenty of it for free off our seawalls here. In my botany class the other week we discussed a little soil science and learned about clay, silt and sand in the soil. Clay has the highest ability to attract and retain the molecules of water, which then contributes to the retention of nutrients (not to mention the water needed to decompose organic material, further building nutrients into the soil). So I was thinking that adding a layer of clay to the bottom of our beds could help too. But where in Florida do you find clay??
Speaking of dirt....we should be getting some goat manure from the Dancing Goat farms shortly....yum!