I really appreciare your links and advice :) I'm still debating how on earth to make this the best garden ever without breaking my very pitiful budget. Priced out wood at home depot, redwood is 3-4 times the price of untreated fir. We could probably build a 4 x 8 foot, 12 ft deep fir raised bed for around $25, not including the screws, anchors, pvc for hoops, floating row cover or the hardward fabric to line it with. I'm still researching the cheapest way of buying those.
I'm excited to report that my new lights came in! They are some cheap plug in play shop lights from amazon.com . I was a bit worried since the reviews warned that they are shipped in flimsy boxes and the units almost always get damaged- but for the price ( and my impatience) I tok a chance. The boxes looked like shit to be true, but both lights fired up ok. I got some cheap T12 40 watt bulbs at Home Depot, a 6700k and a 4100 K- I don't remember what the 'best' bulbs were for growing plants, but since its a short term thing anyway, I just grabbed one of each. I had been hoping to have more help from Mr.Sun himself, but apparently hes been on vacation the last few weeks with all the rain and clouds, so I needed to do something other then switch trays from the 1 shelf with lighting every day. Now for sure anyone who walked by the window would think I'm growing 'stuff' LMAO. Heres my nice new setup:
I'll probably turn the trays on the top shelf to squeeze 1 more tray I want to get started with some more lettuce and some of the seeds I got at the swap.
Grow my tomato/pepper/eggplant babies!
onions, swiss chard, and pak choi.
I'm also in a quandry about what potting mix to use in my planned SWCs. I was going to do a DIY potting soil mix ( 1/3 coir, 1/3 compost, 1/4 vermiculite or perlite) using coconut coir instad of peat moss, but I was outside checking on a bin on pure coir that got rained on, and even tho it looks light and fluffy, you can take a handful and wring out a good amount of water out. Like, almost equal to its volume in water. Thats good news in that it holds water, really, really well- but now I'm worried that in a SWC design it may hold TOO much water and lead to waggerlogging issues with the plants. Adding perlite or vermiculite may help, I dont know till I've made a few 'mixes' on a smaller scale to see how they compare. Spring frost date is this week, ahhh! I'm so not ready, and with the ground still soaked from todays rains not much I can do out there but plan and obsess.
So now I'm debating how to make a new mix for the SWCs, or if I should just skip the water resivoir part of the SWC altogether, and basically just drill holes at the bottom of these rubbermaid bins for drainage, plant in them, and just top water as needed. I could even make some of those watering stake bottles with 2 L cola bottles if the mix starts to dry out too much.
I have to consider tomatoes, esp indeterminates are heavy drinkers, plus our summers are over 100 easy, very low humidity, and oftentimes windy. All very drying factors. Its a big scale in my head...too much water in the soil....too many factors that can dry the plants out to a crisp in a container. Luckily both areas I am planning for SWCS get morning sun from sunup to around 2-3pm then are shaded partially by the house, so I'm hoping that will help prevent blossom drop and poor fruit set in the hottest part of the year.
Gah, why do I do this? I have this idea I'm all confident with and then I read so much of other peoples opionions and experiences I get nervous, panic and lose all confidence in what I thought I had figurd out! LOL Its what I love about the "blogosphere" its this huge everchanging library of information at my fingertips whenever I escape to the computer and want to learn something.
Or drive myself nutts from an information overload!