I did not get back to the garden for 2 months and the? weeds had taken over again; so another couple of days were spent cutting them back. As much of the old debris as possible was removed to expose the soil which turned out to be very heavy clay. The soil was broken us using a small tractor and hollow tines.
I had already decided to use raised beds as a good way of managing the clay. Luckily I had access to a huge pile of old fence rails to use for the edging. The 15 first beds were 15ft (4.58m) long and 4ft (1.2m) wide and used about 1000ft (305m) of the fencing rails.
I wanted to get the garden going quickly and grow food in the first season so it was essential to add top soil to the beds on top of the roughly cultivated clay. Quick calculations showed that around 5-6 tonnes of soil were needed in order to fill the beds to a reasonable depth and level off the tops to compensate for effects of the sloping ground. Finding that amount of good top soil that was not drenched in chemicals would have been difficult and expensive.
Having recently visited a garden in Scotland where a growing medium had been home made from municipal compost and rock dust (quarry fines) I decided that this was a better alternative than commercial top soil of dubious quality. Finding both ingredients were available reasonably locally I placed the orders and 3 tonnes of each arrived within a week.
The beds were made and filled between December 2003 and January 2004 using a mixture of 3 parts (by volume) of municipal compost and 1 part of basalt rock dust (quarry fines.) Planting started immediately with the first crop of garlic growing in early in 2004.
Click on an image to enlarge
|Pile of compost||Pile of rockdust|
|Filling a bed||Filled beds|