Bigger is better, right? At least when it comes to gardens. Personally, I feel that when it comes to the kitchen garden more is definitely more. No minimalism here thank you! Each year I have had a struggle deciding what vegetables I need to have, and which ones I can live without, simply because it has been so small. Now, I get it. Small as a concept is relative to expectations. Although my vegetable garden was small, we never managed to eat everything on offer as I produced more than one family could possibly eat. Never mind, I have lots of friends to feed! So this year I decided to finally make the plunge and double the size.
I like using raised beds, as it helps with keeping away the weeds and the grass that is forever trying to invade. Beneath the soil is stone and clay, so building up is easier than digging down. Also, I have been reading about no-dig gardening for some while now, and decided to use that method as we made new beds on the field instead of battling a loosing fight against roots, grass and weeds.
The first thing we did was build good solid 2 meters x 12 meters frames from larch wood. Larch contains a high natural rot resistance, and although it is expensive compared to cheaper forms of impregnated wood I felt it was a worth while investment because I really do not want any possible resin from impregnated wood contaminating my food. At the bottom of the frame, I used builders cardboard as a weed suppressing layer.
After that we added a layer of organic composted cow manure, and then a layer of fresh garden compost that I had ordered for this project. When one bed was complete, we built the next one. In-between we left paths that are 1,5 meters wide, so that both lawn mower and four wheeler can pass without too much bother. I haven't yet decided on if I will keep the paths with grass or cover with weed suppressing fabric and wood chips.
Because I use a four year rotation system in my garden it was simplest to build four beds. In previous years, I used half a bed for each kind so to have a whole bed for each kind is a luxury! I rotate the crops as follows:
- Legumes ie peas and beans that add nutrients and improve soil structure
- Hungry plants such as kales, tomatoes, artichokes and leeks
- Moderately hungry plants such as root vegetables (including carrots and beetroots) and onions
- Potatoes and corn
I also try to mulch the beds along the way after I planted, but this year I'm a bit low on compost since so much got used in the beds already. Unless I can get some more brought over from my friends stable, I will try to simply mulch the paths between plantings with grass cuttings. At the end of the week the beds were ready, but still to come is the fence around the vegetable garden. This is a must! Otherwise I will no doubt not be feeding my own family but Bambi and all of Bambis friends and relatives... Next week I shall plant out my baby seedlings and hope for the best. I wish you all a great gardening week, and look forwards to hearing about your megalomanic garden projects in the comments field below!