Quick & easy square metre beds

Spring 2010

We made a new garden in a few hours with minimal work and no digging! There is a block of four, square metre beds on some very rough ground which has not been cultivated for over 20 years.

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First, the ground was cleared of weeds using a strimmer; then strimmed again right down to the bare soil.

Note: do not use any sort of weed killer if you want to grow organic, chemical residue free food.

The next stage was to mark out the beds and paths using canes. The soil in the bed areas was then lightly forked over to break up any compaction. There is no need to dig!

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Assembling the edging kits was quick and easy even without reading the instructions! The first edging was then placed on the soil and checked for level. Geting the beds reasonably level not only looks better but it also stops water running off the surface. The ground in the garden slopes to the south which means that if the surface of the beds is not level water tends to run off or pool at the south end.

The edging kits are supplied with pins that secure corner pieces to the board and also act as ground anchors.

We no longer use plastic in the garden. Although the edging boards supplied were made from 95% recycled plastic window frames there is still an issue with end of life disposal. We now use untreated recycled timber.

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Once the edging was secured to the soil the surface was lightly forked without turning the soil and then roughly levelled and watered. Then bagged compost from the local food waste composter was added to fill the beds to the top of the edging. This needed two 60 ltr bags per bed.

The next step was to make the remaining three beds so that all were ready for planting.

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Last year proved it was possible to grow 68 onions in a square metre bed, so this year we wanted to try 36 leeks, which is 6 inch (152mm) spacing. So the first of the new beds was planted up with 36 leeks, 18 Musselburghand 18 Jolant.

The leeks have been grown in Rootrainers which we have used with great success for many years. The plants were carefully separated and the compost removed from the roots. A hole was then made with a dibber and the plants dropped in making sure that all the roots were gently pushed to the bottom of the hole. Before transplanting the compost was watered well.

When all the leeks were planted the holes were watered in i.e. watering filled the holes with compost. This is the usual way of planting leeks.

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The second bed was sown with a row of ‘Hispi’ cabbage; they are the small pointed head types which are ideal for intensive bed growing. There should be enough seedlings to fill the bed (9 in a 3 x block) and provide some for the rest of the garden.

Bed 3 was planted with carrots and bed 4 with perpetual spinach or leaf beet.

Update 31 July 2010
The very dry and breezy weather means the beds need watering every day until the plants establish. There is now a hose from the water storage tanks which provide a good flow of gravity fed recovered water.

The leeks had suffered damage from pheasants. They either peck at the leaves or pull out the seedlings, 5 had to be replaced. The bed has a temporary covering of chicken wire until we can fix something more permanent.

The good news is that the cabbage (Hispi) has germinated, that is just 5 days since they were sown! I guess they will also need to be covered to keep the pesky pheasants off!

Update 06 September 2010
See a progress report and photographs of the beds after 8 weeks here.


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