Wednesday, 17 October 2012

More raised beds....but no soil!

I think everyone has had a really tough year growing this year, what an awfull year it has been for cropping. Despite all this we did manage to get a decent amount of home grown food this year and the money we saved paid for our raised beds and other bits and pieces that we needed. As it was our first year growing here we wanted to see how things went before creating more growing areas and trying other growing ideas out, so now we know that even in a tough year we can manage it.

Just looking back at some of the problems this year I remember picking off 100-200 slugs each night and that was just from several 10 foot raised beds. In the end beer traps, picking, squashing, torching and Nemotodes ( )seems to get them under control long enough for plants to actually do something. After the slug it was the turn of the birds and then the small mammals got involved and then not having sun and then endless rain.....oh yeah and the very cool temperature and of course the gale force winds!

Like many growers this year we lost many of our young seedlings and we literally had to re-sow more than 50% of our crops. Was very glad of the polytunnel but even in there it was tough, so cool and humid, many kilos of green Tomatoes....but this time we did manage to ripen them in boxes with apples and Bananas.

Anyway after all this it was a success and we are now working on several more raised beds, we should be able to grow more than double the food  in this space and if we improve the existing soil depth we could get to 3 times the food.

Our biggest problem is of course not having soil,,,quite limiting really when trying to grow things. The new beds are going to take many layers of 'Stuff' to make it possible, here's what's going in...

1) Wood ash
2) Chicken muck
3) Leaf mould
4) Nettles
5) Comfrey
6) Straw
7) Ditch dirt
8) Straw again
9) More Ditch dirt
10) Fresh leaves

Just need to throw anything we can at the new beds to create some kind of soil...last years we collected something like 30 trailers of leaves from along the track and I think we will need to do more than that this year as we don't have any muck. Have cleared out 150 feet of ditch and theres one more ditch that might give us another trailer s worth of rotted stuff...

Been looking at the excellent ' How to Grow More Vegetables and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You can imagine' (John Jeavons) it really does look like the best system for us here and we are combining this with what we have been doing for several years with a 'no-dig' system....I really like not digging :)

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