Since 2004, we have been gardening on an organic allotment that is about 5 km away from our house. Between 2004 and 2015, we’d had several different plots. Our current kitchen garden (the area where we grow annual vegetables) is part of our larger plot and consists of 12 large raised beds (120 x 280 cm) and 4 small ones. The beds are edged with Douglas fir boards and most of these are treated with organic linseed oil based paint. The beds were initially filled with compost (6-7 barrow-loads per bed) and are undug and mulched heavily with organic materials (such as compost, mushroom compost, straw or grass clippings) in order to protect soil structure, reduce evaporation and prevent weed growth.
The raised beds have several advantages: they are easy to maintain and make the plot tidy and pleasing to the eye. Because we never walk on them, the soil is not compacted and digging is not necessary. The raised beds also warm up early in the spring and drain well. Fertilizers and mulch are only applied where they are needed. My preferred material for the paths is wood chips which we can get locally.
On the left side of the kitchen garden is a strip with three pear trees on a dwarfing rootstock, underplanted with herbs and flowering plants that attract pollinators and other beneficial insects to the garden. On the right is my ‘permaculture cottage garden’ – a mixed planting of fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers. In 2017 we added a greenhouse that we use for heat-loving crops in summer and for hardy salads in winter.
I try to plan the harvest so that there is something to pick every week of the year, even though the pickings are much smaller during the colder months.
If you’d like to read more about our gardens here are a few posts:
March in rearview mirror
Garden jobs in March
Winter salads from the garden
Seeds old and new
Edible garden in November
Edible garden in October
Edible garden in September
Edible garden in August
Edible flowers, how to grow them and how to eat them
Edible garden in July
Edible garden in June
Edible garden in May
Edible garden in April
Kale salad and community gardening
Deciding what to grow
Edible garden in January