Tag Archives: square metre beds

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.

 

 

 

Want to grow food but can’t wait 4-40 years for an allotment?

With the ever increasing waiting list for allotments there has to be an alternative to waiting 4 – 40 years to grow your own food. The average waiting list in many parts of the UK is around 4 years. In some parts of London it is 40+ years. But why wait when there is a way of achieving high yields from small beds?

That is the challenge taken up by Bakewell & District Organic Gardeners with the launch of the Micro Bed Gardening Project yesterday. The aim is to encourage more people to grow food by starting with small raised beds just 1m square. Following from successful trials over the last two years the project web site will help people replicate the amazing results achieved.

Newcomers will be guided through the whole process by a step-by-step guide and an online library of linked articles. There is information on all stages from selecting a site, creating beds, sowing seeds and harvesting the crops. Sample planting plans are provided.

If you do not have a garden you can grow food in containers. Again step- by-step instructions and continuing support will be available via the web site.

Although based in Derbyshire anybody anywhere can sign up and the first 50 people revive a 50% discount on the subscription.

For more details see  Quick easy square metre beds

How to grow 100lbs of potatoes in 4 square feet

This idea has been around for some time and while there are many ways to grow potatoes in containers this system has some advantages. The first is that it is set on soil so the tubers can root as deeply as they want. Second, by using a wooden box with removable sides it is easier to harvest the spuds at the bottom of the pile.

I must admit to be sceptical about the claimed 100lbs (45kg) from 4 sq.ft. (0.36 sq.m.) Using good soil beds we get around the same yield from 60 sq.ft. (5.5sq.m.) so a 15 times increase would suggest a lot of extra inputs in terms of fertiliser and water. Careful management would be the key to getting such good results.

4squarefoot potato2Most posts suggest using a base frame with four uprights used to attach the sides. Remember not to use any sort of treated timber for the box in contact with soil.

The photograph shows 9 halves of seed potatoes (whole tubers cut in half) in one square foot. Even with good fertilisation and lots of water that seems like very close spacing. Potatoes are hungry feeders and very thirsty plants and maybe this is over optimistic?

From my experience last year with potatoes planted in a dustbin (trashcan) I would use 3-5 seed tubers for a variety known to be good for container growing e.g. Charlotte and maybe 2 tubers for my favourite Sarpo Mira.

I plan on making this one of our 2010 trials to see just what yield we can get from such a small space.

Here are detailed instructions of how to make the box.

4squarefoot_potato1

How much food from a 1m square bed?

The following is taken from the page “Single crops in 1m square beds – results” The results are not totally complete as there are some overwintering crops to mature but they do illustrate just what can be grown in very small beds. For me they prove that even if you cannot get access to land, and/or have a small garden, you can still grow food.

Final update 14 October 2009
The harvest form the beds is as follows:

Lettuce –  9 Webb’s Wonderful harvested, total weight 6.3kg, replaced with 9 Hispi cabbages.
Onions – 8.6 kg, average weight 126gms.
Carrots – 9.0 kg
Runner beans – 8.5 kg

Total weight of food produced from 4, 1m square beds so far this year  = 32.40 kg or 71.28 pounds.

Average per bed = 8.1kg or 17.82 pounds.

Comparison to large beds, 15ft x 4ft (4.59m x 1.20m) the only figure I have is for potatoes – 8.84kg/sq.m or 19.45 pounds.

So it seems that the limit is about 8kg or 17.60 pounds per sq. m. Multiplied up that means our veg growing space of around 100 sq.m. should produce 800kg or 1760 pounds of food a year!

That assumes that plant nutrition is optimum, that the soil is uniform over the whole plot and that all beds receive the same amount of light. It will also depend on the crop and when you harvest e.g. leafy veg will probably not produce as much and carrots harvested early will be smaller.

These are interesting results and prove that significant amounts of food can be grown in very small beds.

Seasons greetings

Wishing you all a merry Christmas and a very happy new year…. and of course a successful garding year in 2009.

Coming up in 2009;

  • single crop square metre bed trials
  • more on using rock dust and sea minerals for soil remineralisation
  • a news series on how to start growing organic food from scratch
  • more podcast interviews
  • a redesigned web site