Extending the Vegetable Garden

Our raised bed vegetable garden was created many years ago and started out, as most do, with digging up the lawn. At the time of starting our garden I’d heard about another method of creating a garden from scratch called ‘No Dig’. I was curious about it because let’s be honest, not many people really enjoy digging (some do, and that’s fine!), it’s hard back breaking work sometimes. Our vegetable garden was already mostly done the digging way, but I did add a couple of no dig beds to the mix just to compare. It worked brilliantly and much quicker than the dug beds and with fewer weeds. All the beds are now no dig and I have come to realise there is so much more to it than less weeding and the obvious no digging part (which has been a blessing for my back), the quality of the soil has vastly improved with very little effort and is alive with worms and other important organisms that help soil structure and make food available to plant roots.

This year we plan to extend the vegetable garden with a few more no dig raised beds, they will go over the far side of the garden. To accommodate the extra compost we’re going to need for our no dig garden we plan to make more compost bins from pallets.

compost

I’ve always enjoyed making our own compost and I find the whole process fascinating, lately I’ve taken an interest in how to make compost that little bit quicker, after all it’s key to managing a no dig garden and you do need to have a steady supply. Buying compost isn’t usually an option due to cost, but if we’re feeling flush we sometimes do although we prefer to make our own organic blend using garden and uncooked kitchen waste and chicken manure mixed with chopped straw bedding. This is broken down by soil life into wonderful compost that feeds our soil and in return our soil feeds us.  I find that chopping material up using a pair of hand shears really speeds the composting process up, particularly anything woody, I also try not to over fill the bins or keep adding to a pile which has already begun breaking down. We currently have 7 compost bins made using pallets and chicken wire, moisture is a good thing for making compost but I’ve covered the contents of each bin with empty chicken bedding bags and ton grab bags just to keep the bulk of the heavy rain and snow off and stop the contents getting sludgy.

compost bins

pallet compost bin
I started this bin in October, it’s breaking down really well already.

I can’t wait to get started on the new beds, we just need some brighter weather and for the ground to dry out a bit. It’s been snowing on and off for days with sleet and rain in between, yuk.

Wrap up warm and stay safe x

And Sow it Begins

I came home from hospital last weekend, my body is tired and sore but getting a little stronger every day. I ended up needing more surgery than expected which has set my recovery back with one thing or another but I am getting there, slowly. I miss spending time with the chickens and of course the day-to-day activities in the garden smallholding, family are mucking in and doing what’s needed. I long for the day I can join in rather than watch from the window but I’m not to lift anything heavier than a cup of tea for at least 6 weeks. Meh.

I guess I can cope with the tea bit.

After going through our seed stash last month we’ve ordered what we need for the new growing year with some new varieties to try, the rest will be our own saved seed. We will buy our seed potatoes very soon and set them out to chit in egg boxes.

We like to sow our tomatoes and chillies early, harvesting can begin as early as June/July depending on varieties grown. Chillies need constant heat to aid germinate so we’re using a seedling heat mat at the moment to help. We’ve never used anything like this before when germinating seeds such as chillies and peppers, we usually get decent germination results by using the warmest spots in the house but it can take up to a month to occur due to temperatures dipping at night. It’s a bit of a trial so we’ll let you know how the heat mat performs in terms of germination rate/time, and if we like it enough to recommend we’ll do a little blog post. Rich set everything up for sowing our seeds to avoid me lifting anything, all I had to do is pop the seeds in. It felt so good to be involved and gave me the lift I needed.

It’s official, gardening is therapy!