I thought I would share with you the process for building a ‘no dig’ bed. We have learnt this from our Charles Dowding organic veg book. I’m not sure we’re doing it quite right – Charles leaves areas covered with carpet or black plastic for months before building the bed but we have been impatient and skipped this step so that we can get growing a bit quicker. As a result, we suffer with the dock popping up all over the place. Hopefully there won’t be as much next year. We also only use wood chip and rotted manure as that’s what we have freely available, with a little of our home made compost as it’s available. Our vegetable beds probably aren’t the most nutrient rich at the moment but seems to be OK for what we are currently growing. We will be adding as much home made compost as we can when it’s available.
The first ‘layer’ is cardboard. It needs to be a decent layer with good overlapping. We probably should have used a bit more elsewhere on the plot so for this bed we made sure we didn’t scrimp on this step. The cardboard should be thoroughly soaked with water (we have found it easier to do this after laying it).
Next we added a layer of well rotted manure, then wood chip. We then built up much thicker layers of manure and wood chip until we were happy with the depth, finishing with the manure layer. The Charles Dowding book and website are well worth a look to see how he builds his beds. Looking at the bed now it’s finished, it’s a little big. The no dig method also relies on not compacting the soil by standing on it and so the beds are generally a bit smaller to facilitate this. I can reach the middle from both sides but we made this bed much deeper than all the others, so with the hight it can be a little difficult to reach properly without standing on it. I will have to make sure I always stand on a board to avoid compacting it too much.
I have plans for the leeks to go in this bed. There should be plenty of room for them and lots more besides!
I popped by the allotment this morning as I was nearby.
There was a rabbit on the plot, not quite a baby but certainly small. I think I’ve figured out where he’s getting in so will have to fix that soon. Luckily, he doesn’t seem to be doing too much damage, though my herb fennel has taken quite a battering! The fleece that I covered the chard with is doing it’s job and I put some netting over the peas so they’re OK. I think the onions are too big now to really be affected by a little bunny, hopefully he’ll be too big soon to hop through the fence.
The parsnip foliage seems to be almost doubling each time I go to the allotment! I did some thinning out as they were getting a bit crowded, the chickens are now enjoying the thinnings – if it’s not composted, the chickens get it so nothing goes to waste!
Aphids had visited the pepper plants in the greenhouse so I sprayed them with water and wiped them off. I’ve heard that aphids don’t like citrus so I’ll take some lemon juice down next time I go and add it to the spray bottle. At home, I use soapy water on the roses etc but would rather not put soap on the edible stuff.
Last Friday, Ashley and I put in a new ‘no dig’ bed, I’ll show you what we did in another post soon. That was looking great today, a few weeds on the surface but it is very hot today and they had wilted anyway. I can’t wait to get planting in that one, but I don’t want to get caught out like we did before with weeds overtaking the plants so I’ll give it a few more days. The leeks are patiently waiting in the greenhouse to go in this bed. I must put them outside actually to harden off. Do you need to harden off leeks? I have no idea, but I’d rather not lose them for the sake of doing something as simple as leaving them outside somewhere sheltered for a few days.
See you soon!