Raised Beds: Size Does Matter!
So, here’s the thing: I like big raised beds. The idea of making massive fuck-off sized raised beds first came about at Idiot Towers, before the move to FAoI. It happened as a total misunderstanding. Someone suggested building raised beds instead of digging out ground roots. I don’t know why, but in my mind’s eye at the very second this was mentioned I saw a bed that was approximately 0.7 metres high, a couple of metres long and a metre in depth. So I built it, and then discovered that filling it took up a lot of soil and compost.
Last year at FAoI the growing season was pretty crap. I managed to get a handful of small squash, a few heads of corn and that was it. Admittedly there was a lot of other stuff happening, such as making the house habitable. However, I vowed that in 2017 I would get my mojo back.
So, how’s that working out for me? Well, I’m running a bit late! That said, I did dig out a diary from 2014 – one of my most productive years – and I didn’t sow bugger all until mid-April then. As such, I’m not too fussed. I have planted gooseberries, raspberries and rhubarb, so hopefully next year will see a fruit mountain starting to form.
The initial plan was to plant into the ground here, as I have a lot of ground to cover. The reality is that clearing a small space showed how futile such an approach might be. Within weeks the wilderness was closing in on my cleared patch and the sandy soil lacked anything good, but had an abundance of weed seeds. As an almost automatic reaction, I reverted to the fuck-off sized raised bed.
The first in a series of beds comes in at 4.8 metres by 1.6 metres, with a depth of 0.75 metres. Carol Vorderman might beg to differ, but I make that around 5.4 cubic metres. Filling it was a bitch. I lined the base with heavy duty cardboard and then added a generous layer of sheep-piss soaked straw that Farmer Giles was going to dump in the ditch. The rest is compost. Obviously I haven’t yet managed to produce compost myself, so I ended up having to buy it in.
Here’s an interesting point: I figured buying bulk bags would be the cheapest route, but after scavenging around various nurseries for offers, I managed to fill it at a price of around £35.00 per cubic metre. Part of that was due to obtaining a pallet of sacks for £60.00.
The bed currently houses the main direct sowings for 2017: parsnips, carrots, turnips, beetroot, chard and some salad leaves. It’s a fairly basic selection, but as more beds are built the range will increase. I just needed to make certain that I got something in!
I’ve cleared an area for sweetcorn, squash and artichokes, and once the seeds are up they’ll be transferred across, leaving the greenhouse free for tomatoes. I also need to cobble together a beanage as a matter of urgency.
Oh, and there’s still a shitload of work to be done on the house, plus woodstores to build, new plumbing in the brewery and the rum-cured bacon stock is getting low…
Tagged Raised Beds