Category Archives: Square meter beds

Organic outperforms conventional agriculture

Just to show that all the misguided hype about how we need huge inputs of fertiliser, pesticides and GM is just that, hype from the vested interest of the huge agrochemical companies that make a profit out of fear.

And organic gardening probably outperforms conventional food gardening. See this link to out own trials.

From: “Kiss the Ground: How the Food You Eat Can Reverse Climate Change, Heal Your Body & Ultimately Save Our World” 2018, Kindle edition, p.138.

Making new compost bins

There are compost bins on the plot we have taken over. They are made form a few old pallets just wired together and are a bit rough and ready. I have to confess, I made them a few years back to help out. There is good, usable compost in the bottom of each section but the heaps never got hot enough to kill weed seeds.

NZ bins at the old Ryton Organic Gardens compost display area

As soon as the beds are sorted the whole lot is coming out to be replaced by a 3 bin New Zealand bin. Again, it will be made pallet wood with a removable front, a waterproof lid and sides without gaps or holes.

There is often confusion about having slatted sides which allow air into the bins which is thought to be necessary for composting to happen.  What it does is keep the bin cool which slows down the process or or stops it working. More importantly it prevents the heap reaching a higher enough temperature to kill weed seeds.

Often the advice is to use treated timber as it last longer. There are several reason why you should NOT do that. Compost bins rely on bacteria to break down organic matter and they do not want to be in contact with anything that might kill them. Also, chemical wood treatments can leach into the compost contaminating your veg plot.

The last big compost bins I built were made from recycled scaffold planks which lasted at least 10 years. There were four, one cubic metre bays and it was possible to make 12 cubic metres of compost a year! The new garden is much smaller and we will probably be making 1 cubic metre.

A good set of plans are available here but as mentioned above I would not make the sides or back slatted. I will also have a closer fitting lid.

Photos of the progress will be posted so please come back soon.

Growing food in 2019

The beginning of 2019 brings many uncertainties; BREXIT, will it be the chaos of a ‘no deal’ or a smooth transition. Will we see threats to our food supply from climate change?

Whichever way you look at it there has never been a better time to start growing at least some of your own food. So what is stopping you? Many will say they do not have the time or that they have very little garden or none at all. Or that they do know how to start.

First, I want to say that growing food is not that difficult. There is an old saying that seeds are programmed to grow. There are also a lot of myths around and even some bad advice.

As for lack of time and space I want to show you some easy ways to get started that use little of either. And if you do not have a garden there are always containers. As a very well gardener once said to me, “there is nothing that cannot be container grown!”

Over the coming months I will add instalments about choosing what to grow, how to grow it and where to start. Over the last 30 years I have grown fruit and veg in a small town house garden, a large veg plot and in containers on a patio. I have written about growing in magazines in the US, UK and Australia. Pioneered Square Foot Gardening in the UK and developed a form square metre bed gardening. I have also taught compost making and other subjects and have run this site, for over 20 years.

Please check back soon to see the first instalment about choosing seeds.

Growing your own food

Growing you own food means you cease to be a consumer and are not part of the long supply chain dominated by large agrochemical companies and supermarkets. It also helps to ensure your food supply, saves you money and reduces waste. You do not need to think of total self-sufficiency, just a small food garden will help.

There are many reasons for growing your own including having fresh food on the doorstep. You will also drastically reduce the plastic waste from food packaging and reduce your food miles.

If you are new to food gardening, there is help here and you can ask questions if you get stuck. There are also lots of books around, more on that later.

9 Hispi cabbages in a square metre bed. (We no longer use recycled plastic edging board – used scaffold planks are a better alternative.)

Use raised beds just a square metre if you do not have much space. See this page to see how easy it can be. You can get around 9kg of food from each square metre bed with very little effort. We are planning a new square metre bed garden and will keep you updated step-by-step.

Remember, keep it organic – no artificial pesticides and no chemical fertilisers. That way you will have a healthy and productive garden that does not rely on the chemical industry and one that will be better for your health.