Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Veg beds - day 1

First, I planned where the new beds will be - near the greenhouse, on the main lawn.

Then I spent a while scribbling, working out how big an area to cover, how many sections I'd need for a sensible crop rotation system, how high to raise the beds, what to use to build the sides, and so on.

I decided on two long beds, 6m (about 20ft) long and 1.2m (4ft) wide. Each one will be split into 3 sections (one each for the 5 parts of my rotation and a permanent bed for asparagus). My rotation is basically brassicas/legumes/alliums/potatoes/roots. Other crops will fit in wherever they can.

We invested in a new spade and fork, because the cheapo ones we have are really heavy and make digging twice as hard as it needs to be.

And onto the actual physical work.

Typically, the Easter weekend has been somewhat inconsistent weather-wise. We've had everything - cold wind, warm(ish) sunshine, hail, actual rain, and snow. We decided to push on with the prep work anyway, because the beds really need to be done soon so I can start planting.

I marked out the sides of the bed with string and bits of stick. Unfortunately it's hard to see as I used green string, but I actually used trigonometry to create the right angle (using lengths of string in the ratio 3:4:5, because a triangle with sides of those lengths is always right-angled). When I learned it at school I never thought I'd actually use it for anything other than passing exams.

We start removing the grass, which is hard work, and dig 15-20cm (6-8") down, breaking up the soil. The digging's just as hard for several reasons - the soil's heavy clay, it's full of dandelion roots that need to be removed, and if I can see a worm in the soil I have to remove it rather than risk injuring it (if I accidentally kill one because I didn't see it that's okay though) and there are a lot of worms.

I refused to let Michael take a picture of me in my work clothes, but he isn't as vain as me.

Now worms are good, but clay.... isn't.

Being unfit and cold and losing the light a little, we decide to call it a day after measuring and digging over that small area.

Good job really, because this happened as soon as we got inside.

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