Two days ago, I planted out the shady bed with some cool-weather-loving seeds. Though when I planted, we had temperatures int he 70s, tonight it’s going to drop into the 20s. Not ideal, but nothing has sprouted yet, so everything should be fine. Before I planted, I added a new bag of peat moss and two 40-pound bags of compost, bringing the soil level back up to the top of the box.  

Cool weather seeds

 I spaced my rows six inches apart. If you’re planting directly into native soil, you’ll want to give your plants more space, but because the soil in my raised bed is so rich, the rows can be pretty close. I made sure to plant the tall crops at the far end to prevent them from shading out the low ones. The lacinato kale, Swiss chard and Chinese kale are going to end up between 18 and 24 inches tall, while the rest will be maybe six inches tall. The amaranth, I have no idea about, though.

A easy way to get evenly spaced straight rows and to get all your seeds planted consistently at the right depth is to use a guide. First,  smooth out the entire surface of your bed so that there are no high or low spots. This will ensure that water won’t pool in any spots and that seeds won’t get washed away when it rains. Next, determine how far apart you want your rows, and set up a tape measure as a guide. Then find a dowel of the right lenght (I used a 4-foot extension for a paint roller.) Press the dowel horizontally into the soil, to the depth you want to plant your seeds. Space your seeds according to the package’s instructions. This takes a bit more time, but prevents the need to thin the seedlings too much, and lets you get more rows out of one packet of seeds. Then pull some soil back over the seeds and press down lightly.

Spacing out rows in the bed.

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