Saturday, 21 March 2015

Veg Boxes or Raise those Veg

After spending six years battling the weeds on our vegetable plot we decided enough was enough. Trying to keep it under control was taking up too much time and the rest of the garden was starting to suffer. Something drastic had to be done and we decided raised beds were the answer.  We mapped out the area and costed up the membrane, wood, bark mulch and loam required.

It's a good sized plot, fenced to keep out the chickens.  Bordered on two sides with fruit trees, the rear and front fence had empty borders.  To prepare the area, we firstly transplanted a holly hedge which surrounded the old asparagus bed to line the rear fence.  The hedge was originally made up of seedlings found around the garden and was doing so well we're glad we had somewhere to transplant it to.  We grubbed out some of the fruit trees which were sadly failing and could no longer stand up on their own.  We lifted the crowns of two large trees to the rear boundary to let more light in and chopped down a fir tree which gave little pleasure.  The wood was of course reused in our wood burner.

The plot was now empty apart from the compost area and we were ready to start work.  We rotavated the area, then laid a black, breathable membrane, pegging it in place.  We then placed the bark mulch bags on top of the membrane to stop it ripping.  We were doing this work over the winter months and didn't want the high winds to ruin everything.

We worked out that we had plenty of room to install 14 boxes, 2.4m by 1.2m.  Yes, you might recognise those dimensions as standard lengths of wood.  That made the job easier.  The boxes were made on a flat area near the house, then transported perched on a wheelbarrow up to the plot and manhandled into place. Bark mulch was then laid between the boxes to protect the mulch and hopefully deter more weeds.

A few months earlier we had shredded lots of cuttings and stored in some bags.  We put a layer of this at the bottom of the boxes.

A mixture of Rolawn Blended Loam and Hallstone Topsoil was duly ordered and delivered and then emptied with spade and that trusty wheelbarrow.  Good exercise over Christmas and New Year!  

Everything was completed in time for the growing season.  We planted two boxes with strawberry plants that I had potted up last autumn and one box held rhubarb that we had also saved.  Into the rest went an array of veg; broad beans, courgettes, french beans, magnetite, leeks, parsnips, carrots, onions, potatoes and salad.

We had plenty to eat and enough to give some away and had our own carrots and parsnips for Christmas dinner.  We've now doubled up the strawberry beds so that we can plant two boxes with runners each year and also have two mature beds.  Very easy to net which gave us more strawberries than the birds for once although we did leave some for them.

Now looking forward to starting to plant them up for this year.  Crop rotation has been planned and seeds purchased.  Spring is here, bring on the planting.