Making A New Vegetable Bed

Earlier in the year we took stock of the orchard as part of a wider plan for the garden, at that time we decided to cut our losses with trees growing near the hawthorn hedge (which we will have to lay at the end of this year) and moved one large tree and potted up three others that were not doing well. My plan for this part of the garden involves a rethinking of the shed we have and cutting across the narrow plot here to create paths, borders and beds that make the garden appear wider rather than a runway. It's also about making smaller gardens within the wider garden so we can experiment more. This can be seen in our new potager and expanding our chicken run to take in one of the old wartime beds. We've also bitten the bullet and decided to lose another open vegetable bed for a second greenhouse, this will allow us to grow for a longer period undercover during the year. However, that means we will have lost two open pieces of ground that were part of our crop rotation, enter the orchard. Now, for those of you have followed us from the start you may know that in our first year here this piece of ground was a vegetable patch and produced some great yields. Fast forward nearly a decade later and it is a matter of taking off the turf using a line and post method to create a triangle bed.

Grass

We could opt for no dig here but instead we want to go over this ground carefully for roots and some of the perennial couch grass that has crept in. We have tried no dig here but there are remnants of willow herb here and it does tend to break through on the no dig model, so it's best to take the turf off and use to create loam. As we take the turf off the chickens move in for the cockchafer grubs which are plenty. It's then a hands and knees job as I go back and forth across the ground, closely followed by the hens, to pull out every couch grass root and any other roots and pests I find. In this bed I find twenty-eight cockchafer grubs, they love living under turf, I also find seven vine weevil grubs too and the chickens have the lot. I do no digging beyond the hand fork, I add some garden compost as a mulch. The idea behind this is simple, I have a knackered back, I can't dig and I don't want to disturb any weed seeds.


Chickens

Any turf taken off is laid around the edges upside down. To the north of the bed I create a large raised mound of turf, laid grass side down, this I will cap with well rotted manure and plant pumpkins in it. They love being planted into rotting turf. The main exposed bed which we hand weeded is for our potato crop. We're giving open ground a try once more and will plant lines of spuds that radiate out from a central hub, the pumpkin patch. I will then take the rest of the turf off after the daffodils have died back to create one long, large bed that is double the size of the beds we have lost.

Chickens

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