Monday, April 27, 2009

6 fine-art steps for building a raised bed

Step 1. Construct a timber coffin-like structure to what ever size you require in what ever manner you like. Remember the timber will flavour your food so don't use timber that has been treated with chemicals. Level off and fix to the ground using stakes or star pickets.

Step 2. Break up and weed existing soil at the base of the bed. If your soil is clay add some river sand and lime, if your soil is sandy add some clay and manure.

Step 3. Using newspaper, cardboard or some twentieth century art, cover the soil in a thin blanket. This barrier will act as a weed mat and help lock in moisture, which also encourages worms. Wet down this layer with water to start the decomposition process and help keep it from blowing away.

Step 4. Add a layer of straw, fallen oak leaves or sugar cane mulch. This organic matter will slowly break down, fixing carbon in the soil. A good soil requires a balance of nutrients, carbon, nitrogen and diverse microbial life, which will mitigate pests. Never use synthetic fertilisers or pesticides, you want your soil to hum loosely, not fear life.

Step 5. Finish the layers with composted soil. I have used part mushroom compost here with my own home-brewed one. Lightly compress or flatten the soil with a board and sow your seeds.

Step 6. Protect your seeds from your free-ranging hens. Now it's time for a well deserved glass of Astrid's dark chocolate stout.


Meg said...

You'd better make it two glasses. I'll meet you on the deck in five.

Alexi said...

The Garden of Self Defence said...

fantastic use of space.

RE: Wall mounted beds posted by Alexi.

the wall would act as a sun trap and offer protection to the plants. making sure they always have water could possibly be a down side, depending on your irrigation set-up.

Daisy said...

I'm considering adding a raised bed area to my current garden for the "bunny food" -- lettuce, spinach, etc. My goal this year is using the space more efficiently. Raised bed, a section of Square Foot style garden, and the remaining space devoted to the squash vine, and I think I'll have it.

The Garden of Self Defence said...

that's a pretty friendly looking tea mug you have there Daisy. yes, raised beds are good for so many reasons, saving your back for one.