Tag Archive: raised beds


dsc_1100551You may recall that I’ve become involved with a food growing project at the local high school in Reepham. ‘The Allotment Project’ is the brainchild of teacher Matt Willer who has put energy and ideas into action on a not very promising (very wet) plot at the back end of the School playing field.

Matt and his colleagues have got an enthusiastic group of students working regularly during lunch breaks, including most recently a group working towards their Duke of Edinburgh Award. Matt kindly sent me an update which is very encouraging.

You might recall that I suggested that they might like to sow a ‘green manure’ to give cover and eventually added nutrition, toa large raised bed and Matt says the mustard plants are growing really well (see below).

dsc_1101Also, as you will see by the photographs, the Sixth Formers have done a great job at preparing the largest raised bed by using old bricks (donated by a parent who is a builder).

Matt is also now thinking of following Sepp Holzer’s very interesting idea of a raised bed, usually referred to as ‘Hugelkultur’ (see below). I have never seen this in practice and it would be great to experiment with this permaculture-inspired approach to ‘no dig’ food growing.

Another teacher at the School, Mr.Crick, and his construction group, have also joined in the project and built a compound around the well to make it a bit safer, more attractive and organised. You may recall in my earlier post on this project how Matt and the students have dug this well into which the playing field run off descends, and from here he plans to pump it into a large storage container from where it can be drawn off for irrigation.

I also hear that the broad beans I helped the children to sow are on the way up!

Old School Gardener

 

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My previous articles and pictures on projects in the garden using wooden pallets or other recycled wood have featured some wonderful ideas. I’ve been amazed by the response and the articles seem to have also stimulated projects, not only in my own gardening activities, but for other gardeners, some of whom have sent me pictures of their creations. So here is the latest batch of Pallet Projects for you to look at, think about and maybe emulate!

Keep your ideas and pictures coming in!

A play teepee made out of natural wood and recycled pallets

A play teepee made out of natural wood and recycled pallets

 

A compost bin made out of pallets by Katherine Jacobs. The front fits snuggly into the sides and is removable. Kathereien isn't sure abotu the bag- itm was suggested as a way of keeping the compost warm and preventing 'too much' air getting in- I'm not convinced its a benefit.

A compost bin made out of pallets by Katherine Jacobs. The front fits snuggly into the sides and is removable. Katherine isn’t sure about the bag- it was suggested as a way of keeping the compost warm and preventing ‘too much’ air getting in- I’m not convinced its a benefit.

My own attempt at a Trellis screen made from two pallets fixed to posts in a public garden for under fives. The screen has diamond trellis fitted to the back, has been stained and will have climbing Nasturtums growing up it.

My own attempt at a Trellis screen made from two pallets fixed to posts in a public garden for under fives. The screen has diamond trellis fitted to the back, has been stained and will have climbing Nasturtums growing up it.

 

Other articles about using pallets in the garden:

Polished Primary Pallet Planters

Pallets Plus –  more examples of recycled wood in the garden

Pallet Power- the sequel

Pallet Power

Raised beds on the cheap

Old School Gardener

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PicPost: Raised Beds with a difference

From Alex at Norfolk Master Gardeners: ‘Great idea for raised beds – easy, quick and a nice working height for people who have back problems. And with a touch of paint, could look very good in a garden too.

An added idea, is to adjust the depth of the bed, by moving the base pallet down a notch or two. This would be better for deep rooted crops such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc’

PicPost: Over Ground

Looking good- Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum)

Looking good in Old School Garden at present – Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum)

 Planning your crops- to rotate or not to rotate…

Well, I guess that I’m sold on the benefits from rotation. Basically, you reduce the chances of persistent pests and diseases building up (which affect a particular plant or group of plants) and you manage the demands placed on the soil from different crops (and in the case of peas and beans actually stand to replenish, or if not that, then at least not deplete the store of Nitrogen).

Fine in theory, but it’s posed a real challenge to me in planning my crops in the kitchen garden. I’ve survived to date (just) with hasty diagrams on odd scraps of paper and scribbled ideas about what to grow where. To be quite honest, I’ve become muddled about what was previously grown in the different beds, what needs to follow what and whether I should manure, fertilise and/or add lime….sound familiar?  With just the two of us at home to cater for it’s also been a bit difficult avoiding growing either too much or too little of the right things (generally the former).

Part of the problem is that my Kitchen Garden is divided up into a number of raised beds of different sizes and aspects, so it’s a challenge fitting things into the spaces available. I also feel that it’s important to max the growing potential by putting in follow-on crops once early harvests of things like Broad Beans, onions and early potatoes have been ‘garnered in’.

Then there’s the issue of focusing on what we like to eat (sounds simple, eh?). Over recent years we’ve had mixed results:

  • some rather exotic looking French Beans which turned out a pretty yellow on the plant and then went a sort of beige when cooked- not inviting,
  • peas -they seem to involve an awful lot of trouble for not much reward
  • main crop potatoes– they take up a lot of ground and don’t taste that different from a large bag bought for a fiver…

So we’ve started to focus on the crops we like (with a bit of experimenting), things that can be expensive to buy, freezables for the winter months (Courgettes come to mind) and some particular varieties that ‘float our boat’- Mangetout for instance in preference to those whopper peas that pigeons seem to rather enjoy!

So yesterday (after pruning the apple trees), I spent a couple of hours drawing up a proper diagram of the plot, tried to think through what could go where (once I’ve taken permanent crops like fruit, Rhubarb and Asparagus out of the equation)- and also whether there’s potential for second crops in some areas, too.

I’ve tried to follow the rules on rotation (brassicas following legumes, potatoes following brassicas and onions and roots following potatoes), but I must admit it’s a bit hit and miss, taking all of the other variables into account! What’s your experience and do you have any sure- fire tips to help me?

At last, a cunning plan for food growing in 2013! (I hope)

(click on the image to enlarge and see a panorama video of the garden as it looks today at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZ20lLrTLIc&feature=youtube_gdata_player)

kitchen gdn layout

P.S.  A note on manure:  if you can get some well rotted animal manure it could be good to either dig it into your beds or just lay some on top for the worms to incorporate into the soil. I’d be careful about putting it down everywhere though, as root crops like carrots and parsnips don’t like freshly manured ground (they tend to fork and not grow well in the heavier conditions that are created). However, ‘hungry’ cops like potatoes, brassicas (cabbages, calabrese, cauliflower, broccoli), courgettes, squashes and legumes (peas, beans) would all benefit from some, as would a greenhouse if you’re planning to grow tomatoes. Ideally it needs to be obtained and placed or dug in in the next few weeks in order for the weather to break it down and help to incorporate it into the soil.

Further information: Vegetable Gardening for Beginners: The Complete Guide

Quizzicals: answers to the last two…

  • Private part of a old crooner Periwinkle
  • The organ that enables you to say ‘2 plus 2 = 4’Adder’s Tongue

and just for fun two more ‘gardening ditties’:

‘Pepper’s got a brand new bag’

‘Spice Oddity’ (topical huh?- thanks Les)

Old School Gardener

A view of the Kitchen Garden looking west- east (left to right on the diagram)

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