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Veggie patch for complete beginner......

(24 Posts)
RusselBrussel Fri 08-Aug-08 18:25:23

I have a strip of garden, 9 metres long by 1.25metres wide. It faces west. I would like to use it to start a simple veggie patch.

But am a complete beginner. Would like to grow raspberries, lettuces, potatoes, perhaps runner beans....

My first question is - what did you do to prepare the soil for vegetables/fruit?

And secondly, did you edge your bed in, or raise it somehow? Would you recomment it was slightly raised?

What is the best time of year to begin this adventure? Ie when should I prepare the soil, does it need to 'rest', when do I sow the seeds, do I need to start the seeds off in a head is spinning with it all...

Thanks for your help, am sure there will be many more questions once I attempt to get going...

RusselBrussel Fri 08-Aug-08 19:35:53

recomment? recommend!

littlerach Fri 08-Aug-08 19:42:37

WE made raised beds using decking wood.

About 2 boards high.

We then bought some top soil to fill it and dug it in lots.

Then planted seeds!

It was that simple.

We had grown some tomatoes and courgettes indoors first but everyhting else went straight in.

Don't know if it is too late for lots now, but I'm sure therre are some late plants you could put in.

It is fab to pick it all too.
(Picked 18 courgettes on wednesday shock)

TooTicky Fri 08-Aug-08 19:50:57

Do raised beds use more water? I borrowed a very informative book from the library - it had organic vegetable gardening in the title, by somebody Flowerdew.

I just dug out bindweed and other oddities, raked and planted. Do grow peas, they are divine straight from the pod.

snorkle Fri 08-Aug-08 20:14:10


You should try and rotate your crops so divide plot into 4, and plan to have rasberries on one part and rotate spuds, lettuce and beans on the other three. I don't think raised beds and potatoes work that well, so I'd probably start with a normal 'flower bed' type lawn edge, but treat it as if it was a raised bed and never tread on the earth.

Potatoes are an ideal crop to break up the soil, so dig it over next spring and plant in March. Buy the seed potatoes (earlies) in Jan and let them sprout a bit first - instructions here. 2.25m x 1.25m isn't a huge area - you might get about 3x1.25m rows of 4 spuds in each row. You need space around the rows so you can 'earth them up' or dig earth from between the rows and put it on top of the spuds as they grow.

The lettuces will want the soil to be dug over twice (for the first year, once the spuds have broken the soil up the next time will be much easier to prepare the soil, especially if you are careful to never tread on it), some compost dug in and all raked to a 'fine tilth' (all the big lumps broken up). You can grow summer or winter lettuce, but the summer ones are easiest and fastest to mature. Around now you plant winter ones - I grow 'arctic king' which you plant August-Oct and harvest in Oct (for the earliest ones planted) or Apr-May (for the later ones - they pretty much stop growing in the cold). If you can protect them with a cloche you can prolong the growing season. The cos types can be planted Mar-Jul to crop from May-Oct. I generally plant about 4 per square foot and plant 4 - 10 plants a week to get a continuous supply.

Runner beans like a trench dug with newspaper & compost in the bottom and filled up again. In a 2.25m x 1.25m space, I'd grow 2x2.25m rows each of 6 or 7 plants up a tent shaped structure of canes (ie the canes from each row meet at the top). The plants need to be started indoors in late April and planted out one per cane after the frost risk is over - usually late May.

I've never grown rasberries, but would have thought digging some compost in first would be a good idea. I believe they tolerate shade, so might do better the shadiest end of your bed (if it has such a thing).

RusselBrussel Fri 08-Aug-08 20:20:04

Fantastic, thanks guys smile
There is obviously lots to this, so in addition to your brill tips I will get a book I think.
And will start getting soil ready too.
Can't wait to get started smile

MissisBoot Fri 08-Aug-08 20:35:05

Can I recommend this book?

Don't be put off that its aimed towards allotment holders - It gives a monthly breakdown on what you should be doing when an excellent advice on planning a plot (no matter what the size is) as well as lovely diagrams! Also handing hints on preparing soil, double digging and all sorts!

It also has sections on every type of fruit/veg/herb and recommends varieties and how to take care of them!


RusselBrussel Fri 08-Aug-08 20:49:39

peas sound yum, will include them...
worried I wil run out of space!

why don't potatoes work in a raised bed? How do they know they are in a raised bed?

RusselBrussel Fri 08-Aug-08 20:50:43

Thanks for hte book recommendation! It is my birthday in Sept, so will put it on the list, along with other 'new-to-growing-my-own-vegetables' essentials smile

snorkle Fri 08-Aug-08 21:14:15

well when I tried potatoes in a similar sized raised bed to yours it was difficult to do the 'earthing up' without all the earth falling out over the sides and I didn't get a very good yield at all. This may be more a problem of growing potatoes in a small area rather than raised beds though. I guess if the sides of the bed were high enough it would work, especially if you had earth elsewhere in the garden that you could gradually fill the whole bed up with as the spuds grew (effectively treating the whole bed like one of those spud bucket things). Or you could use 2 or 3 dustbins to grow the spuds in and just stand them in the 'potato area' each year and fill them gradually with soil from that patch. It's important not to grow spuds in the same soil consecutive years (you should have at least 2 years growing something else, before doing spuds again) or they will tend to get diseased.

RusselBrussel Fri 08-Aug-08 21:16:17

Ah, thanks snorkle smile

In a little plot my size, am I being too ambitious with the amount I wish to grow?

And what staples would you recomment I start with? What is easy for a novice?

snorkle Fri 08-Aug-08 21:16:40

If you do go for raised beds then either use untreated timber (which will rot quite quickly) or concrete paving slabs or plastic to create the sides. You don't want timber preservatives leaching into your veggies.

RusselBrussel Fri 08-Aug-08 21:18:41

Good point about the preservatives... I think I may not go raised, and instead set about starting to dig out the soil in my patch. It is heavy clay though, and I was hoping to avoid having to dig it out....
But needs must, and it will be good exercise smile

TooTicky Fri 08-Aug-08 21:19:16

Carrots are easy.

TooTicky Fri 08-Aug-08 21:19:50

We have clay - it is workable with smile

RusselBrussel Fri 08-Aug-08 21:20:11

Carrots are good, and we all love them, so I don't actually know how I left them off my little list hmm

VeniVidiVickiQV Fri 08-Aug-08 21:20:46

check out my blog smile

RusselBrussel Fri 08-Aug-08 21:21:08

Really? re the clay I mean...
I presume you have to dig nutrient rich soil (listen to me, as if I know what I am talking about) through it?

RusselBrussel Fri 08-Aug-08 21:21:37

Oooh, thanks vvqv, will go and have a nose now smile

snorkle Fri 08-Aug-08 21:29:34

Well I think about 4 crops is a good idea - then you can rotate them (nearly everything is like spuds and should be rotated).

I had a thread just recently about what was best to actually save money growing & I think rasberries and lettuce and runner beans came out well. The problem with potatoes is that you do really need a big area to produce a lot. I find onions very easy (I grow 9 per square foot (which is quite intensive, they would probably grow a bit bigger with more space)- plant sets out in March & harvest in August) - you should be able to grow enough to last from September - December quite easily (storage after December could be an issue, so think how many you use a week, work out how many to grow and grow a third more). And carrots work quite well too - you could grow them in among the onions.

I am going to try growing broad beans through the winter - plant in November and harvest April-May to get a winter crop as well.

snorkle Fri 08-Aug-08 21:36:04

Compost and manure is the stuff to dig into the soil to help improve it - adds nutrients and makes it less heavy. BUT...
1) be careful with manure at the moment - there's some nasty toxic stuff in a lot of it. Better to use your own compost I think.
2) carrots don't like the soil just after it's had compost/manure dug into it. It makes them fork, so dig it in before everything else but not the carrots. (Carrots also like a stone free soil - just remove stones as you dig and after a few years it will all be quite stone free - until then, I would plants carrots anyway - the worst that happens is you get some odd shaped ones).

Habbibu Fri 08-Aug-08 21:40:11

Just marking my place - was going to ask for a thread like this. My courgette flowers appear to be almost all male, which is a pita.

RusselBrussel Fri 08-Aug-08 21:57:53

Brilliant, thanks snorkle smile
Compost we have, so that is what we will use.

So, potatoes, onions, carrots, and peas/beans, on a rotational basis.
And will find another spot for hte raspberries. Dh and ds would never forgive me if I did not make space for rasps!

whistlejacket Fri 08-Aug-08 22:33:26

I think raised beds would help if you have v thick clay soil. It means you wouldn't have to dig as deep into the clay (knackering!) and could top up the raised beds with some nice topsoil and compost / well rotted manure instead. Our soil is thick clay and some of the seedlings have struggled to get started in it, so the finer you can get the soil the better (alternatively start the seedlings in pots and plant out when more established). On spuds - we don't have a big plot and managed to squeeze in 10 potato plants in a v small spot - ignored all the advice on spacing! We got 5kg of lovely spuds back which lasted us about 3 weeks.

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