Saturday, February 04, 2012

Planning the vegetable beds

Our vegetable beds have developed over the past 5 years into a system that suits us here at La Pasera. Three main beds are used with crop rotation, every season, where practicable. Crop rotation amongst other things, ensures that essential micro nutrients are not exhausted by continually trying to grow the same crop or species.

The 2 larger beds measure  9 x 5 meters   and the smaller central bed measures 9 x 2 meters.

Bed 1 empty, boarded and waiting for soil

Working with a heavy clay soil has more disadvantages than advantages. It may be nutrient rich but it is impossible to grow certain crops or to sow seeds directly. Working the land is more difficult as the soil compacts though a combination of the rain, sun and traffic. We could operate a no dig system but we generally do not source enough compost or manure annually to make this viable.

This year we have made a decision to buy in some sandy loam based soil which together with the compost we produce will serve to enrich our existing soil, helping to generally improve the conditions for growing and working.

In preparation for the soil, we have made a start on boarding the beds with strong wooden planks. The bed on the left now has heavy duty surround of 22cm height. This will help retain the soil when it arrives and improve drainage. We will complete boarding the other two beds in the next few weeks and gradually build up the soil levels when planting schedules and crop rotation allows.

Following on from our previous post, we have coppiced the hazel and repaired the fedge. It is such a haven for wildlife it is really worth the effort. Toads, frogs, lizards, slow worms, stag beetles, field mice, shrews and numerous insects occupy its nooks and crannies. It has its own eco system that is fascinating to observe throughout the different seasons.

A Shrew out of his home in the fedge

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