Improving the raised bed

Two years ago, when I made the raised bed, there wasn’t enough soil left from what was excavated to make the pond to fill it to the top. I’d not been making much compost at this time and was trying to operate a closed loop, whereby all garden inputs were created within my property. I can’t in all honesty remember the rationale for this, except that it had something to do with reducing carbon emissions.

Unfortunately, with my soil getting tireder and tireder, there wasn’t much carbon left in it. And without carbon, there isn’t much life. So, having bought my Green Johanna and started to collect horse manure from a local stables, there is now a healthy supply of homemade compost. In addition, I have stacks of newspaper from my neighbour across the road.

So, this afternoon, my first action was to put down a thick layer of the paper round the two somewhat spindly PSB plants, which have now been staked. Then five bucketfuls of compost from the finishing off bin were loaded on top of this.

I had been concerned in case the layer of newspapers prevented rainwater from getting to the soil around the roots of the PSB. However, there is already plenty of moisture which is unlikely to evaporate in the current temperatures (not much above freezing); and once this issue starts to matter, the newspapers will have started to decompose. In turn, worms will hopefully have started to incorporate the paper into the soil and thus increase its water-holding capacity.

Of course, theory and practice are different from each other but I am excited to see how the soil improvements pan out. In the short term, if the purple sprouting broccoli fails to thrive, it’s not the end of world. Then the pumpkins I intended to plant in the spring should at least have a more fertile and water retentive medium to grow in.

About Helen

I have always been interesting in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and used to do what I could. Now, I have come to realise that we have reached such a point in terms of environmental degradation that it is more important - perhaps - to focus on building resilience. I therefore do as much as I can to reuse, grow my own and encourage a supportive community, for example. I also keep reading and learning all the time.
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8 Responses to Improving the raised bed

  1. Good luck. My purple sprouting broccoli has thrived in my runner bean bed (taking over in fact) and that is with a trench of soaked newspaper and compost. Will try giving the broccoli its own trench this year to give the beans a chance.

  2. Give us updates on progress, please. Happy new year, Helen.

  3. There is an encouragement in some Permaculture books and courses to aim for a closed system which is how a natural landscape works but natural landscapes work on very long time scales. In a garden, especially a small one where we aim to grow rather greedy annual veg it is just not practical I find. In a large plot it may be possible to have an area which is used specifically to grow for compost – a hay meadow, comfrey bed, trees for leafmould etc. Unless you have an awful lot of stuff for compost most people seem to find that animal manure makes a big diference.

  4. It is difficult maintaining the soil level of raised beds. We have quite a few laid down by predecessors on concrete standing for former post office transport.

  5. gaiainaction says:

    Nice to read about your garden plans and management Helen. It’s becoming that time of the year isn’t it.

    • Helen says:

      It is indeed, Agnes. The garden is looking a bit sad at the moment, except when it’s frosty. We might even get some snow tonight and since we can’t go anywhere, it’s not a bother.

I love to read about your own experiences and any other feedback you have, so look forward to your comments below.

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