Thursday, November 19, 2009

The raised bed is dead.

When I started our veggie garden about 2005 I built a raised bed system and although initially it worked well and was reasonably productive, I have since demolished it in favour of a more traditional on the ground system. The problem with the raised bed was that it was too water intensive and a pain in the butt to garden. Being at an odd height it meant I was always having to bend and reach, putting a stain on my back. Sitting on the side was no better as it meant twisting to reach any plants that where not near the edge. The only way it really worked was to climb on the bed and work from there, which sort of defeated the idea of having a raised bed in the first place. As I also wanted to extend the garden a bit I decided to rip it all out and start again. The new layout is two beds about a meter wide that I can work from both sides, with a narrower bed across the back . A narrow path splits the two beds and is paved with old bricks. The whole area takes up about 20sq meters and will be gardened in a variation of the French intensive gardening technique.

With this method the soil is worked quite deep and enriched with compost and humus to produce a light, fluffy soil. This encourages healthy plant growth and the production of deep roots.
An astounding array of crops can be produced in quite a small space when the garden is well laid out, and when space is limited it's an extremely efficient way of gardening. With this system plants are typically grown very close together, with the leaves of the plants creating a cover which reduces weeds and helps keep the soil moist, acting almost like mulch.

As well as the dedicated veggie patch, I have, mixed with the native plants in the more formal parts of the garden a number of fruit trees and vines. We grow rhubarb, thorn-less blackberry, grape and strawberries. There are a number of fruit trees scattered around the place as well, these include tamarillo, pear, plumcot, fig and gooseberry trees. We don't as yet have any of Adam's apples.


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