Thursday 7 March 2013

Dig This

Last year we tried a new style of vegetable bed in the garden and it was by far the easiest to look after. I am in the process of now digging over the whole veg patch and removing all of our wooden raised beds. It's not like I am doing it all on my own though... I have 'helpers'... it takes twice as long but it is less strenuous that way anyway.

Over the past 5 years we had slowly put our vegetable garden down to rectangular veg beds. They seemed like a good idea, and I had researched and been told that raised beds with wooden surround were the easiest to tend.

Each bed  is 2.4m x 1m with grass paths between. But the grass would become impossible to cut by August, the slugs would thrive on both sides of the wooden planks and the weeds (especially the couch grass) growing around the sides of the beds were a nightmare to pull up. As you can see from the photo, they were not easy to look after.

Then we saw this idea from a Bob Flowerdew book. The basic principle is to surround beds with a ditch that is easy to weed.

Cross-section of our new bed design
The beds are flowing large borders, with 'keyhole' nooks from which to tend the veg. The idea is that you never walk on the dirt and you hoe it from the path regularly.
The grass is easy to cut because you can run the lawnmower right up past the edge.
The ditch is the right size for a hoe to be pushed along taking all the weeds down immediately.
The slugs are still there, but at least we don't give them extra cosy homes in corners of soggy wood.

veg bed plan
The new design makes it easier to mix our perennials with our annuals, and mix our flowers with vegetables and fruit. Making it a more pleasant garden for us and the mini-beasts.

We follow permaculture principles in our designs, we spend a long time planning everything to be as low maintenance as possible.

Wooden rectangular vegetable beds were a big mistake, we won't get rid of them completely - We are going to use the wood to build a much higher single raised bed for raising seedlings in. But the garden will be much easier to tend without them.

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