Cre­at­ing a raised vege gar­den bed

Southern Real Estate Guide - - SOUTHERN HOMES -

A raised, no-dig vege bed has many ad­van­tages. It does away with the need to bend, ob­vi­ously there’s lit­tle or no dig­ging, and the grow­ing medium can be topped up on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

So if you want to give it a try, here are some tips.

Start by se­lect­ing a site in a sunny po­si­tion. Build a frame with boards, bricks or what­ever you have avail­able. This can vary from about 30 – 50cm deep. The higher the sides, the less bend­ing will be re­quired to main­tain the bed but make sure you can reach all parts of the gar­den from the sides.

Pre-formed, above-ground beds make start­ing off even eas­ier. Fill the bed with good qual­ity soil from a land­scape sup­plier or use the method that was first pi­o­neered by Aus­tralian Es­ther Deans in her 1970s book Grow­ing With­out Dig­ging.

Place a 50-mm thick layer of news­pa­per (not card­board or glossy mag­a­zine pa­per) in the bot­tom of the bed. Over­lap the pa­per so there are no gaps.

Cover with pads of lucerne hay as they come off the bale. Sprin­kle on a dust­ing of or­ganic fer­tiliser. Cover with 20 cm of loose straw. Scat­ter some more fer­tiliser onto this layer. Con­tinue lay­er­ing in this or­der un­til the gar­den bed is as high as you would like.

Tip a cir­cle of rich com­post 10 cm deep and about 45 cm in di­am­e­ter in places where seeds or seedlings are to be planted. Then plant into this cir­cle.

At this time of year you can sow seeds of dwarf or climb­ing beans, beetroot, car­rot, corn, melon, pump­kin, radish, baby squash and zuc­chini.

Sow seeds or plant seedlings of cab­bage, cap­sicum, cel­ery, cu­cum­ber, egg­plant, let­tuce, sil­ver­beet and toma­toes.

Feed the plants reg­u­larly with a liq­uid fer­tiliser such as Yates Nitrosol and make sure they don’t dry out.

Wa­ter as re­quired, ide­ally in the early morn­ing when evap­o­ra­tion is low. Morn­ing wa­ter­ing also al­lows the leaves to dry quickly, which re­duces the risk of fun­gal in­fec­tions tak­ing hold.

A layer of or­ganic mulch around the plants will help re­tain mois­ture.

Con­trol sap-suck­ing pests (aphids etc) with Yates Na­ture’s Way In­sect & Mite Spray. Con­trol cater­pil­lars with Na­ture’s Way Cater­pil­lar Killer or Suc­cess.

Yates Tomato & Veg­etable Dust is another pop­u­lar, easy to ap­ply op­tion for tak­ing care of some of the most com­mon in­sect pests and fun­gal dis­eases.

Yates Na­ture’s Way Fun­gus Spray is a good choice for con­trol­ling the pow­dery mildew that can be trou­ble­some for some ve­g­ies, es­pe­cially peas and cu­cum­ber rel­a­tives.

Al­ways check the la­bel to make sure that the prod­uct can be used on that crop, and fol­low in­struc­tions care­fully.

When you’re grow­ing any sort of ve­g­ies, it’s a good idea to ro­tate your crops. This means, for ex­am­ple, a leafy crop is fol­lowed by a fruit­ing crop such as toma­toes, or a legume crop. Typ­i­cal legumes are beans in sum­mer and broad beans or peas in win­ter. Th­ese can be fol­lowed by a root crop (car­rots, parsnips, beetroot etc).

Be­fore plant­ing each new crop, add more soil or lay­ers of com­post, ma­nure and lucerne where nec­es­sary or dig some aged or­ganic mat­ter – ma­nure, mush­room com­post etc. – into the soil.

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