We have had a little bit of a rethink on the layout of our plot, as the inherited raised beds are revealing how past it they really are. All of the corner posts are rotten at the bottom; all of the lower boards making up the walls have completely disintegrated and a few of the upper boards are in a rough state too. In short we are looking at more of a complete rebuild with new materials rather than making running repairs. Then there’s the matter of 5 out of the 9 beds not having any extra soil in. The more we’ve looked and thought, the more we have realised that reinstating these beds will be more hassle than its worth.
What we have decided to do is to completely remove the raised beds and to create three long ground level beds on the same foot print. Once this years crops have been harvested we will level any built up soil and use a half moon to cut nice neat edges for the new beds. The weeds will be sprayed off with weed killer to give us a relatively clean bed going forwards. Tom will use a chemical called glyphosate, which is used in most weed killer products. Its great because it will very effectively kill off anything that is growing. Moreover it breaks down and becomes completely inactive as soon as it touches the soil, making it perfectly safe for us to grow food in the same soil soon after spraying.
We will then get plenty of fresh horse manure from the stables near Tom’s work. True: ideally you should let horse muck rot for a year before putting it on your beds. However seeing as the beds will be left until early next year before we plant into them, the manure will have plenty of time to rot, and in so doing will really boost the condition of the soil. The extra fibre in the horse muck will also help to improve the soil structure. Initially we will just spread an healthy layer (about an inch deep) over the new beds and just leave it for a week or two. In this time the moisture will get into the soil, breaking it down and making it a lot easier to dig over. Depending on how well this works and what time we have we might incorporate some more maure and/or some of our home-made compost. Once this has all been added and forked in we might hire or borrow a small Mantis style rotavator to really break down the soil into a nice tilth.
After all of this we will have three nice beds to start off the new season with. Some of the decent top boards from the old raised beds will be kept and used to walk over the beds between rows of crops without leaving loads of foot prints (and of course to avoid trudging around with muddy boots!) With our luxurious blank canvas we will properly start a three year crop rotation system. This is something we had plans of grandeur with for this year; however clearing took a lot longer than expected scuppering those plans. The three beds will take up just over half of our plot, leaving space for a couple of rhubarb plants, and a new home for our strawberries.
Thanks for reading people,