Vegetables and Raised Beds

 

(To view a fantastic range of raised beds at super prices see our item on raised garden beds.)

I’ve been feeling incredibly smug this weekend.  Why?  Well watching my veggies growing safely in their raised beds has made me swell with pride.  Our original intention in building the beds was simply to partition off a manageable section of land away from the mass of brambles on our slope.    But I’m now beginning to appreciate the many other advantages of having raised beds.

I’m feeling smug because a passer by who saw me tending my seedlings when they were only millimetres high had said to me, ‘better get the slug pellets on quick!’ I ignored him, there was no way I was going to use those vile blue pellets.  Now I can’t say I haven’t had the occasional uncomfortable moment as a result of ignoring this advice, my obsessive and constant checking of plants would put an OCD sufferer to shame, but as yet I can honestly claim I’ve not lost a single lettuce or sprout to a slug. Raised bed at Sustainable Living Project

I don’t think it’s because there is a shortage of slugs and snails in our garden, they seem to be in plentiful evidence everytime it rains.  I think the raised beds have provided protection in two ways.  Firstly, although we did use soil from elsewhere in the garden to  fill them, we also used extra  top soil bought in bags and tonnes of peat free organic compost.  I don’t think there were any snail or slug eggs in the beds to start with, and it is the small invisible ones that wreak havoc on your seedlings before you spot them.  We also attached copper tape all around the edges of the beds to deter any gastropods that might be tempted to stick their antennae over the barricades.  The beds looked a bit odd at first but now the copper has tarnished and is no longer visible. 

The other advantage of raised beds is that you can afford to plant vegetables much closer together than you would do in a conventional row growing system.  This is good news for people like me who struggle to come to terms with thinning out!  I can’t bear doing it.  I am overcome by anthropomorphic sentimentality, ‘how can you rip those babies from their mother earth?!’ demands the voice in my head.  ‘Weeding out the weakest as well, a eugenicist!’  I realise I am pathetic and this won’t do at all. 

My Cavolo di Toscana kale is more overcrowded than a Victorian tenement slum.  Passers by, ever ready to advise, tell me they will become pale, weak and sickly if I don’t act.  But at least I can leave them jostling with each other in a raised bed.  The general rule is that it is alright to have the outer leaves touching each other when the plant is fully grown.  This closeness creates a micro climate and effectively conserves moisture and suppresses weeds.

I’m really looking forward to getting more of the slope cleared of brambles so that we can build more raised beds for next year.  I had to severely limit myself this year, I felt like a disappointed child in a sweet shop every time I opened a seed catalogue!  Hopefully I’ll still get a little bit of most things  in.  The raised bed system allows for potager style gardening and the pretty intermingling of veg that would normally be segregated on the grounds of  crop rotation.

Yet another passer by cautioned me not to overweed. He was staggering home from the pub and I wasn’t entirely sure what he was trying to say as he vehemently wagged his finger at me.  Perhaps he thinks this will confuse my slugs and snails, they’re simply lost in all the brambles and can’t find their way to the lettuces!  Intentionally or not though, I think he had a valid point.  This little patch has been so left to its own devices that a balance has been achieved that many would-be organic gardeners still dream of.  It’s the first time I’ve ever been accused of over weeding!

Just to prove I’ve not be overdoing it, here is a pretty picture of one of our brambles!

My Favourite Plant!!! To see what our bed looked like three months ago visit Raised Beds, Raised Hopes.

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2 comments to Vegetables and Raised Beds

  • Your garden looks fab! Like you we don’t use chemicals and so far all we’ve lost had been sunflowers – admittedly I was gutted when three lots got chomped one after the other, but that’s all we’ve lost. Oh, the pigeons ate my basil seedlings, but hey I don’t bear a grudge.

    Your drunk friend actually had a good point about the weeding though. Garden pests evolved to eat our native plants, and if you check them out lots of “weeds” do bear the chomp marks to prove it. Provided they haven’t shaded out your crop, they can act as a pest decoy and living mulch that keeps moisture in the soil, and some are host to beneficial garden insects too. Or that’s my excuse for having an underweeded vegetable patch.

  • goo

    Thanks Bird. Yes I think that is what he meant by not overdoing the weeding, you’ve hit the nail on the head far more eloquently!

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