366 Days of Gardening! E16 – W10 [3]

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There Are Many Ways to Garden Your Plantings….

“Quick and easy to read gardening post!”

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Part 3 …

366 Days of Gardening Directory

E16 – W10

Part 1 – Introduction

Part 2 – Windowsills and Containers

Part 3 – Small Spaces and Raised Beds

Part 4 – Greenhouse and Backyard Plot

Part 5  – Potagers and Ornamental Garden Beds

Helpful Links

Not everyone has a backyard, enclosed garden or even a full size garden and many residences only have small spaces available front and back – but there is no need to let this deter you should you wish to grow something aside from flowers. This is where raised beds and utilising small garden spaces really comes into its own.

I have several raised beds here – Suze and l rent and whilst we have a large garden as in large back lawn which being a rental is not a good idea to dig up or even place raised beds onto, we don’t specifically have an area to grow vegetables in. We do have an ornamental garden side and l shall discuss that in part 5, but the only space we have available in a large pebbled strip of land which used to be an ornamental koi pond, but was filled in and replaced with 3 tonne pebbles.

When most people think of vegetable gardening and also one of the biggest put offs is large backyard plots which we shall discuss in part 4, but they tend to think of endless digging, toiling over the soils, manuring and dressing the ground, continuous raking, digging up and over trenches, struggling with roots and of course clearing off large wild areas not forgetting the constant battle with pest control and shooing off curious birds and squirrels or bigger game and scavengers!

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Whilst this can still be the case in some of the larger plots, today’s gardener doesn’t have to put up with that kind of workload and let’s be brutally honest …. stress. The mere thought after getting home from work and having to spend anywhere between 2-3 hours tending the vegetable patch would be enough to even put me off and l am somewhat a keen gardener, but no .. that type of gardening most assuredly doesn’t appeal.

I have already paid mention to the likes of windowsill and container gardening, but if you wanted something slightly bigger without it costing you the entire weekend and or spare time … then the next best bet is the likes of raised beds or even vertical gardening methods.

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Vertical gardening is an option for space shortage, if you can’t go long, try going up! We used this system in 2017 for growing Tiny Tim Tomato and trailing wild strawberry.

Growing in Small Spaces

The videos below are ideal to act as potential enticers to considering gardening in small space … a lot of different upcycling and recycling methods here …

Growing in Raised Beds …

... the not so right way.

If you watched the last video in the four, you would have heard mentioned ‘Square Foot Gardening’. I tried this in 2017 using the two much larger beds l had for that season … l didn’t continue with the system, only because after one season, l found it personally too fiddly, but it did produce some decent yields. I transferred to ‘string length gardening’.

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2017 10 x 4 double height raised bed.

I think where l went wrong, and it was my fault – was l didn’t have regular sizes for my raised beds instead of constructing 4×4 or 8×4’s l had a 10×4 and a 9×4 , l was already in conflict with the very principals! So instead of having ‘foot squares’ l had 8″ x 6″ squares and whilst it looked great when the beds were empty, it failed when plants started growing.

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Upon discovery of the difficulties of having the squares too small for effective seed planting, l quickly rethought and opted for the stringed method of planting. The beauty of learning gardening is that without mistakes you can’t find the way forwards – but the secret is to NOT give up, but just look for alternative methods that fit your space or in this case  your overly large raised beds!

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2017 – The 9×4.

The other mistake l made and l feel the shrewdest amongst you will instantly see it … but for those who don’t … is that the space between the fence and the back of each bed was less than a foot itself, which made efficiency come to an abrupt standstill!  Additionally, l had made mine too high and was in fact sitting with an incredible 18″ of height  which whilst this height is good for some vegetables, nothing l was growing required that height.

In essence l could have had four beds of 9″ a good height, but didn’t have the space for that so doubled. It also meant that had l seriously thought about it, l would not have needed to purchase five tonnes of soil and mushroom compost …. as said trial by error and live and learn. Although a higher raised bed with a good pathway would be ideal for those who may be wheelchair bound or have reduced bending capability, so way easier on the back.

In 2017, which did prove successful vegetable yield wise, l made many mistakes as my first full time large gardening adventure, but since then l have learned a lot always by trial and error.

Growing in Raised Beds …

... the more efficient way.

I sold the overly long beds off in 2018 and opted for a more efficient set up for that season which were the three 48 x 24’s  you see below, and for the 2020 season l have added a further four 30×30’s.

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There is more efficiency with the smaller beds and whilst there isn’t a great walkway between the smaller beds, they are small enough to attend to front and back rather than sidewards. This year, l will be sowing in rows without the string definitions in all the beds.

The beauty of raised beds is that you can either buy them like the small four above relatively inexpensively or build your own. Raised beds are best in either rectangular or square shapes and ideally the best height is between 6 – 9″.

Next you need to have a suitable pathway between each bed, this is of course reflective upon the overall size of the bed. The larger and broader the bed, the bigger the pathway required between them, whereas the smaller and more manageable they are to manoeuvre around, the pathways can be located at the front and or the back.

The other beauty to having raised beds in comparison to say a backyard plot is that you are not having to trapse over muddy soils to tend to your vegetations. They are raised off the grounds to avoid this and keep everything nicely compact. With raised beds these also aid in the reduction of weeds due to the closeness of the plants themselves, so this in turn reduces raking and hoeing.

Raised beds also make watering a lot easier with everything being in one location with no unnecessary watering over empty ground like for backyard plots. Equally with the right drainage and the right soil preparations [discussed at another time]  they will act as host to a number of different vegetables ranging from broad bean and other bean types to turnips and swedes,  and are also suitable for fruit, flowers and herb plants too and with the right rotation and the need for seasonal overdigging eliminated you can easily plant season after season in the same soils. [Obviously if you had a blight or a major pest problem you would have to approach that situation differently].

There are die hards that do not like the raised beds, but potential yields can award the gardener a very nice return, making this system very appealing for those short of space and time. They are also wonderful for encouraging those new to vegetable gardening for the first time.

In 2017, l had herbs and flowers as companions growing alongside vegetables which served to also reduce the amount of pests  l had attack my crops.

Check out the videos below for further ideas and encouragement to perhaps look at this concept as ideal for you.

So amongst my gardening readers, anyone else using raised beds? What do you like about them over say ‘the backyard garden plot?’

Let me know below.

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Catch you later, thanks for reading and see you in part 4.

Rory

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***

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In Case You Missed These Last Year! …

Have you just weed in the garden?? Part 1

Have you just weed in the garden?? Part 2

Have you just weed in the garden?? Part 3

…. you might like to revisit for this year!

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10 thoughts on “366 Days of Gardening! E16 – W10 [3]

  1. We have a big shipping crate that’s raised in the back yard. It was here when we moved in. We planted tomatoes in it the first year. Then some carrots and potatoes the year we had a ground garden with corn, pumpkins and peppers.

    Our big garden at the old house was in the ground. We had a chicken wire fence around it and planted herbs & marigolds & lavender for pest control. The ex worked as a landscaper, he was/is very good at growing things!!

    1. Excellent – well hopefully come somewhere in the future – you might be able to grow again 🙂

      BTW, you’re on tomorrow morn with part 1# of The Story Tellers 🙂

  2. I use raised beds, I have timber and metal. I have had failures and successes in both. I have not had a brilliant year this year with a lot of my vegetables. As Autumn is biting here I feel in part the weather was part of the issue, I also know it seems to be that my soils need work. Which is what I will be undertaking this Autumn and Winter. My beans have done really well. I did them in a three sisters bed with corn squash and beans. The other two have produced I have four cobs of corn. I have one butternut pumpkin on the squash. I also have only had one decent zucchini which is unheard off! So the soil was definitely the problem.

    You can check it out on my blog if anyone is interested. Your garden is great. I have tried square foot gardening. I loved it. I still do use it in a way. I have learnt to plant things a bit closer together, and it gives me still good returns.

    1. Hey Tazzie, good morning to your evening 🙂

      I think the weather’s around the world have affected most crop productions, here we have had significant climate changes and farmers are concerned about the problems associated with it.

      I will be popping over to your blog later today so can catch up 🙂

  3. I built a cheap raised bed a couple years back. It’s about 6 inches high. Use it to grow peas and tomato’s. I struggle with tomato’s. They always split. Tried various water strategies but makes no difference. Most vexing.

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