Monday, 5 July 2010

planning the plot

This photo shows my plot in early spring 2008 when I had marked it out and made the first few sowings and plantings.

My plot measures 25 metres x 6 metres and is here photographed from east to west. North is therefore to the right hand side of the photo. I chose to divide it into 3 rough squares, with 2 wide paths running NS between those squares.

I then divided the square nearest to the camera into 4 raised beds which you can see here, with narrow paths between, which I regularly cover with wood chippings etc from home. The advantage of this is that I never have to walk on those beds - this virtually eliminates the need for digging - After the initial work to deep dig the manure into the soil, the beds need only a light fork over as crops are removed - and again a light forking to incorporate any new manuring.

These 4 beds were designed for a crop rotation over 4 years, the groups being: Roots, Tomatoes/marrows, Legumes and onions/brassicas. Rows of seeds should preferably run from N to S to take full advantage of sun through the day and this I did.

I intended the westernmost square to take strawberries and perhaps redcurrants/blackcurrants, and the middle square for permanent crops such as Jerusalem Artichoke, Rhubarb, Horseradish - and the compost bins.

In fact over the 3 years so far I have had to be more flexible but I still adhere as far as possible to that sort of rotation - important for the health of the soil and to keep pests and diseases at bay in an organic setting.

I had also failed to make provision for potatoes which use a lot of space but really improve the land by virtue of the work required in growing them.

This photo is from the SW corner looking towards the NE in the summer of 2008. The flower in the corner is a Sedum, and the south side of the plot is bordered with wild strawberries that I brought from a patch I was weeding out at home. They have made a pretty border each year since, can be ruthlessly kept under control with sharp spade and shears, and produce an abundant crop of the tiny sweet berries each year, but patience is required to pick them!

But just look how much progress has been made from such an unpromising start!

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